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The pension firm finished the first half of the year with net assets of $204.7 billion, down from $207.4 billion at the end of 2019. (The Logic)

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Talking point: Ontario Teachers’ entered 2020 with 46 per cent, or $93 billion, of its investments in fixed income. It sold off about half of much of that to offset losses from private assets like retail real estate, airports and the energy sector. Fixed income is now down to 23 per cent, or $48 billion. In October 2019, chief investment officer Ziad Hindo told The Logic his firm was getting ready for a potential recession. Teachers’ also shifted its money market exposure significantly, going from negative $79 billion in investments to negative $24 billion. The pension added a new line to its financial statement, innovation, which currently includes a $2.3 billion portfolio that contains five firms including SpaceX and Sidewalk Infrastructure Partners. That makes up one per cent of Teachers’ current assets but the fund said it could grow to as much as seven per cent.

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Students at Queen’s University and York University have created Instagram accounts to object to what they describe as racism from peers and lack of faculty training. Both universities said they’re looking to do more to promote diversity. (The Canadian Press)

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Talking point: Both accounts have attracted significant followings. The Queen’s University account, Stolenbysmith, was created by a 20-year old student less than two months ago. It now has over 12,000 followers and has shared 323 stories. Silenced at Schulich has about 900 followers and has shared 52 posts. Ontario business schools are responding by working on initiatives to tackle barriers for Black and Indigenous students. The accounts are part of a broader trend of students using Instagram accounts to post anonymous descriptions of racism at schools ranging from Harvard University to high schools.

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The round values the Cary, N.C.-based firm at US$17.3 billion. Other investors included Sony, funds managed by BlackRock, Fidelity Management & Research, Lightspeed Venture Partners, KKR and Smash Ventures. (The Logic)

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Talking point: Technology investments are a major part of Teachers’ chief investment officer Ziad Hindo’s strategy for the pension plan. Gaming has also featured in its portfolio. In March 2015, it led an investment in Singapore-based Garena, an Asian entertainment platform, and three years later it bought 3.4 per cent of French giant Ubisoft for nearly $400 million. Teachers’ wants to “generate returns” from its tech investments and “participate in the new trends that define the new economy,” Hindo told The Logic in October 2019. Epic’s bets on offering its own store and game engine, as well as Fortnite’s continued popularity and use of shared virtual experiences, all fit that bill.

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The platform, called Fyld, automatically converts audio and video evidence into analytics dashboards and risk assessments for managers. (The Logic)

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Talking point: U.K.-based natural-gas firm SGN helped launch the platform, and will use it to improve workforce productivity by up to 20 per cent. “The benefits of FYLD have been proven by unparalleled levels of adoption and use when we have rolled it out to our employees,” said SGN CEO John Morea. “It also provides us with an unexpected solution to the issues presented by COVID-19 restrictions.” In September 2019, The Logic broke the news that Teachers’ and Boston Consulting Group were launching Koru in a bid to help portfolio firms transform and scale. Fyld is one of the incubator’s handful of announced projects at this point, which also includes a personal shopping service.

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The tech firm is giving the funds to the Ontario Tech University’s Centre on Hate, Bias and Extremism, which will use it to create one staff position and research online extremism and ways to prevent it. (The Logic)

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Talking point: The funding comes as the tech firm is under pressure from governments worldwide, civil rights groups and corporations over hate being spread on its platform. Earlier this month, a number of leading civil rights groups including the Anti-Defamation League and Color of Change accused Facebook of failing to stop the spread of hate on its platform. And Canada’s big five banks joined some of the world’s largest firms in boycotting the platform. The company is making certain changes in response. At a press conference Tuesday, Facebook said it will prevent the posting of discriminatory ads for housing, jobs and credit in Canada. The firm has unsuccessfully attempted to do so several times in recent years. The centre will look into incel groups and far-right violent extremists, among others. Professor Barbara Perry, who leads the centre, said Facebook has put no restrictions on the research. “We have been critical of their response [to the spread of extremism], and will continue to be where warranted. But we are also concerned with pushing them forward. Our work has already informed their concrete actions in deplatforming particular groups, and that part of our partnership will continue to bear fruit,” Perry told The Logic.

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The UPP was established on January 1 as a jointly sponsored pension plan meant to “enhance the long-term sustainability of Ontario university pension plans.” It will replace five pension plans worth approximately $10 billion in assets in place at Queen’s University, the University of Guelph and the University of Toronto, with plans to serve other Ontario universities. (The Logic)

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Talking point: Before taking the job, Zvan was the chief risk officer at the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, a position she left in February after almost 25 years with the fund. She was one of four members of a federal expert panel on sustainable finance that was created in 2018. The panel—chaired by Tiff Macklem, now Bank of Canada governor—delivered a final report last summer, urging Canadian businesses to enforce standards for tracking and reporting on how climate change could impact businesses and make routine climate disclosures to investors. According to a UPP spokesperson, there are approximately $25 billion in assets across 32 pension plans up for grabs in the Ontario university sector. UPP still needs to be approved by the Financial Services Regulatory Authority of Ontario and the Canada Revenue Agency. It expects the fund to be operational by July 1, 2021.