The Oracle of Ontario
Institutional investors from around the globe are coming to Canada to learn how to replicate Ontario Teachers’ direct model of investing. Wall Street better pay attention to these potential new power brokers.
By Julie Segal
JIM LEECH, THE 65-YEAR-OLD CEO OF THE C$117 BILLION ($118.2 billion) Ontario Teachers Pension Plan, is hard to rattle. He comes from a family of generals, attended the Royal Military College of Canada and became a captain in the Canadian Army before going into business. True to a childhood steeped in military discipline, Leech is a hard-core believer that emotion should have nothing to do with investing. But the sale last month of Toronto-based Ontario Teachers majority stake in Maple Leaf Sports + Entertainment, which owns the Toronto Maple Leafs hockey team as well as the arena where they play, might have stung. After all, the Leafs are to Toronto what baseballs Yankees are to New York.
Except the Yankees have won 27 World Series championships; the Leafs havent captured hockeys Stanley Cup since 1967 and havent made the playoffs since 2004.
Leech might have felt the Leafs were experiencing one more painful loss when the pension fund sold its stake. But the Ontario Teachers CEO, and his predecessors who made the investment 18 years ago, have long recognized that the pension plan could make a good profit from the Leafs whether the team won or lost. The Leafs sell out every home game, and their die-hard fans spend a lot of money following them. Ontario Teachers pocketed about C$1 billion in profit from its investment to help pay the 300,000 teachers who are covered by the fund. ....