Canada Pension Chief Talks Profitable Alibaba Investment


The chief executive of the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB) talked with the Financial Post this week about the Board’s investment in Alibaba in 2011.

At the time, Alibaba was an unknown tech company in China. A few years later, the company’s initial public offering was the largest in history.

But CPPIB CEO Mark Wiseman says the investment was no “quick win”.

He told the Financial Post:

The US$314.5-million investment, while very profitable, happened because of a decision more than five years earlier to put “feet on the ground in Asia” by opening an office in Hong Kong in 2008, he said Monday.

“Our team in Hong Kong was able to educate our investment committee and others back here in Toronto, so that when the [initial] investment opportunity finally came to fruition in 2011, we were in a position to understand the business,” Mr. Wiseman said in an interview.

“They understood the Chinese market and the Chinese consumer. They had real experience in the region and understood both the similarities and, importantly, the differences between the way that retailing and trade are done in China [and how it’s done in North America].”

CPPIB subsequently increased its stake in Alibaba in 2012 and again through the IPO, and the combined stake is now worth “substantially more” than the cost base.

The CPPIB has a total of $314.5 million invested in Alibaba.


Photo by  Charles Chan via Flickr CC License