The Canada Pension Plan Investment Board was weighing a bid for Talisman Energy Inc. – the Board decided against it, at the company ended up being bought Tuesday morning by Repsol SA.
But the interest the Board displayed in troubled Talisman Energy is emblematic of a larger trend: Canada’s pension funds are looking for opportunity in the midst of a serious energy slump.
The 22 percent slump in Canadian energy stocks since late November is just the kind of event that can create opportunity for investors such as pension funds, said Ron Mock, head of the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan.
“Sometimes that happens when everybody is heading out the door and we actually use our long-term advantage to go in,” Mock, chief executive officer of Ontario Teachers, the country’s third-biggest pension fund, said during an interview at Bloomberg’s office in Toronto last week. The energy market doesn’t appear to have quite bottomed for Teachers yet, he said.
Lower energy prices will reduce companies’ cash flows and eventually put pressure on them to weigh their capital plans for next year, Mock said. That will have some producers looking for investors, or outright takeovers, he said.
Ontario Teachers isn’t consciously counter-cyclical in its investment strategy, Mock said. The focus is on value-oriented, long-term investments, a strategy that tends to provide it with opportunities during both the ups and downs of the market, he said.
Mark Wiseman, CEO of Canada Pension, said on Nov. 13 that the plunge in oil prices might offer investment opportunities in Canada’s energy sector.
“We are seeing a period now where there may be increasing opportunity in the Western Canadian basin and Canadian energy companies as the market sort of reprices,” Wiseman said.
One of Ontario Teachers key concerns about investing in Canada’s oil patch is the potential for regulatory changes, Mock said. This doesn’t dissuade the pension fund from investing in the oil and gas sector, he said, but it does raise concerns that certain assets might become too expensive to develop, he said.
The pension fund also will consider investments based on environmental factors.
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