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Lescure Leaves Caisse de dépôt CIO Post for Politics

Roland Lescure decided to enter politics on the eve of the French elections.

Roland Lescure, chief investment officer for Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, is leaving the Montreal-based investor to enter politics.

His departure from the Canadian pension fund takes effect today, according to a statement Thursday from Caisse de dépôt, which oversees C$271 billion (about $202 billion) in assets. The fund manager has begun an international search for his replacement, with Michael Sabia, president and chief executive officer, taking on his responsibilities in the interim.

“On the eve of the French elections, I have decided to enter public and political life because I want to play a quite active role at a crucial time for France and Europe,” Lescure said in the statement. “Since la Caisse is apolitical and non-partisan, I will have more to say about the political commitment I am making tomorrow.”

Lescure joined the pension fund in 2009, when then-Québec premier Jean Charest asked for an investment strategy that could withstand the market volatility that ensued from the global financial crisis. Sabia put in place an ambitious plan that included firing employees and external asset managers, simplifying an overly complex portfolio and changing the organization’s culture and mind-set.

Lescure has helped shape many of Caisse de dépôt’s strategies while building "highly talented investment teams," Sabia said in the statement.

Earlier this year, Caisse de dépôt said it would invest C$3.3 billion in a 42-mile light-rail system in Montreal that it will build, own and operate. The C$5.5 billion project was planned in partnership with the Canadian federal government and Quebec. The fund manager has also simplified its investments, including reducing the number of hedge funds. 

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