Canada should look overseas for growth amid falling oil prices: CPPIB CEO

TORONTO - The head of the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board says oil's sharp decline has highlighted the need for investing internationally.

Still, CPPIB CEO Mark Wiseman says the board, which invests on behalf of the Canada Pension plan, is not looking to reduce its exposure to Canada's oilpatch.

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Wiseman said in an interview that as a long-term investor, CPPIB may even find some good acquisition opportunities in Canada's energy sector amid falling energy prices.

The price of oil has fallen to less than half of its highs of last year and is currently trading near US$45 barrel.

Meanwhile, Wiseman said in a speech prepared for Monday's annual dinner of the Toronto Region Board of Trade that Canadian organizations should be looking overseas for growth.

He noted that the CPPIB already invests 70 per cent of its capital outside of Canada, with a particular focus on China, India and Brazil.

"Most of you are familiar with Wayne Gretzky's style of playing hockey — he staked to where the puck was going to be, not to where it was," Wiseman said in his speech to the business audience.

"To put it bluntly, Canada needs to follow Gretzky's practice."

Wiseman says Canada should leverage its strong reputation overseas and its large population of immigrants, who possess a wealth of global experience that can help Canadian companies expand abroad.

"Having international skills and knowledge is a key asset — and it's one that won't rise and fall in value along with global commodity prices," Wiseman said.

CPPIB invests money not currently needed by the Canada Pension Plan to pay benefits. It currently manages more than $235 billion of assets on behalf the CPP, which has some 18 million Canadian contributors and beneficiaries.

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