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Members of the Climate Finance Partnership, a group led by BlackRock that includes France, Germany and the Hewlett and Grantham charitable foundations, will provide the first US$100 million, which will be used as a safety net for possible losses incurred by other institutional investors for the remaining US$400 million. The fund will focus on projects in Africa, Southeast Asia and Latin America. (The Logic)

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Talking point: This is the latest in a string of climate-related commitments from the world’s biggest asset manager. In his annual letter to chief executives last week, BlackRock CEO Larry Fink stressed the need to address climate change in business and investment decisions; he committed to doubling the number of ESG exchange-traded funds and dropping portfolio firms with more than a quarter of their revenues from thermal coal. Days earlier, BlackRock signed onto Climate Action 100+, a global initiative in which institutional investors pressure the biggest carbon-emitting companies to curb their environmental impact. BlackRock’s investment decisions tend to have a ripple effect in the finance community, with its stance on gun control and corporate responsibility, for example, driving industry-wide change. The concept of considering climate change in financial decisions already had momentum before BlackRock went all in on the file, but its new commitments could sway some holdouts or encourage bolder strategies.

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Macky Tall, who has been with Quebec’s public-pension manager since 2004, wears many hats. As president of the Caisse’s infrastructure wing, he helped spearhead Montreal’s 67-kilometre light rail project, slated for completion by the end of next year. He is also head of liquid markets and sits on the Caisse’s executive and investment-risk committees. (La Presse)

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Talking point: Though apparently the favourite of the Caisse’s selection committee, Tall reportedly has competition. Quebec economic minister Pierre Fitzgibbon wants André Bourbonnais, a managing director at New York-based BlackRock, while Charles Émond is a rising star whom Sabia brought into the Caisse’s fold last year. Sabia will depart next month, having accepted the position of director at the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy. His successor will oversee the Caisse’s more than $325 billion in managed funds.

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Pending shareholder and regulatory approval, the two companies have agreed to a US$2.6-billion deal, including debt, that will see Cincinnati Bell shareholders receive US$10.50 per share. (The Logic)

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Talking point: This latest purchase expands Brookfield’s presence in the global telecoms market. In July, its parent company, Brookfield Asset Management, was part of a consortium that spent US$2.3 billion to buy Vodafone’s telecoms in New Zealand. In October, it acquired a minority stake in Brazilian telecom Oi. And last week, Brookfield Infrastructure bought a 93 per cent stake in the U.K.-based Wireless Infrastructure Group for US$506 million, and purchased a telecom tower company in India from Reliance Jio for US$3.7 billion. It touted many of those deals in its third-quarter conference call with investors, which noted that it made $36 million in its data infrastructure funds from operations, almost double the amount earned in the year previous.

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The Canadian insurance giant’s alternative asset management division, SLC, is acquiring 80 per cent of the London-headquarted firm for $515 million, as well as a promise to co-invest $530 million in new projects. InfraRed has a US$12-billion portfolio, including roads, rail lines, solar energy installations and office buildings. (The Logic)

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Talking point: The acquisition doesn’t significantly expand SLC’s holdings, as the company already has $227 billion in assets under management. But most of that capital is invested in bonds, with just over a quarter in real estate. The addition of InfraRed gives it infrastructure expertise, including in fast-growing Asian and South American markets; the new subsidiary has offices in Hong Kong, Seoul and Mexico City. It’s also completed US$3.7 billion in Asian real estate transactions. While Sun Life has a $7.2-billion portfolio of investment properties, they’re all located in North America and Europe.

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Canada’s largest pension plan is committing US$150 million to the Indian government’s National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF). It also secured rights to invest up to US$450 million alongside the fund. (The Logic)

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Talking point: This is part of a broader push CPPIB is making into Asia’s third-largest economy. On Thursday, CPPIB CEO Mark Machin said the pension intends to enter the private debt market in the country: “Private debt can be a good opportunity as we see some interesting situations in the country.” CPPIB currently has about $10.5 billion invested in India, but is looking to increase its exposure to emerging markets—China, India and Brazil chief among them—to one-third of its total $409.5-billion portfolio. It’s not the only Canadian pension pushing into India. The Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan is also an investor in NIIF; its chief investment officer, Ziad Hindo, told The Logic in October it wants to expand in India.

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The expansion in Contrecoeur, Que. is projected to cost between $750 million and $950 million. Work was originally scheduled to begin in 2021, with the terminal opening in 2023 or 2024. But securing environmental assessments for the site and private funding for the remaining budget could push back the construction timeline. (La Presse, The Canadian Press)

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Talking point: The Montreal Port Authority was previously considering issuing more debt to fund the project. While it still needs to raise more money, the Infrastructure Bank’s cash is meant to help start construction and tide the port over until the new terminal becomes profitable. It’s the arm’s-length agency’s seventh announced project; so far, it’s committed $3.65 billion of its original $35 billion 10-year budget. It’s also the Infrastructure Bank’s second major investment in the Greater Montreal region, following a $1.28-billion loan for an electric rail line, announced in August 2018.

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CPPIB is acquiring 23.7 per cent, while Teachers’ will take 16.3 per cent of the Mexico City-based firm, which owns 18 large infrastructure projects, including 13 toll roads. The deal is subject to approval by regulators. (The Logic)

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Talking point: The Canadian pension funds invested in one toll road in partnership with IDEAL in 2016, and a second in 2018. This deal will give them stakes in four additional toll roads. CPPIB has been increasing its exposure to toll roads, which provide a steady source of recurring revenue. In August, the pension received court approval to buy an additional 10.01 per cent in Ontario’s Highway 407 for up to $3.25 billion. The two pension funds have worked together on major investments earlier this year. In March, they were part of a consortium buying a British satellite company for US$3.4 billion.

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SIP has announced its first deal, participating in a US$16-million round in AMP Robotics, a Denver, Colo.-based startup that makes robots that claim to sort your recycling twice as fast as humans, and with much greater accuracy. (The Logic)

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Talking point: SIP was created just over two months ago by Alphabet company Sidewalk Labs (one of the largest seed investors in AMP Robotics) and the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan. The spinout company promised to look for innovative ways to deal with mobility, energy, water and waste, among other areas. SIP has said it will invest in technology “to enable sustainable, distributed and intelligent urban infrastructure, creating jobs, improving mobility, and providing more environmentally friendly infrastructure solutions.” Last month, AMP installed 14 AI-guided robots at Single Stream Recyclers in Florida, the largest global deployment in the recycling industry.

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François-Philippe Champagne overruled a decision by an independent panel tasked with determining how much Pierre Lavallée should be paid. The effect of the minister’s intervention isn’t known—the government claims it is a cabinet confidence—but Lavallée’s maximum compensation was set at $1.5 million in year one, rising to $2.8 million in year five. The news came a few hours after Conservative leader Andrew Scheer called the bank a “boondoggle in waiting,” as part of a speech about cutting federal spending. (Globe and Mail, CBC)

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Talking point: The bank was given $35 billion and a mandate to build massive infrastructure projects across Canada, but it’s spent much of the past year talking about executive compensation and approving very few projects. It has so far announced just seven, totalling less than $4 billion in commitments. That falls far short of the initial grand ambitions for the bank. In August 2018, The Logic reported that a high-level government panel planned for it to bring in up to US$2.5 trillion in private-sector investments focused on projects with national scale, like doubling the flow of goods in Western Canada and slashing congestion in Canada’s biggest cities. Meanwhile, its 40 employees have an average annual salary of $392,000; at Investment Ontario, a similar organization at the provincial level, only four employees make more than $300,000 a year.