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Ontario Teachers' CIO Resigns

Bjarne Graven Larsen is stepping down after two years at the helm of the $149 billion Canadian pension fund.

  • By Alicia McElhaney

Bjarne Graven Larsen has resigned as chief investment officer of the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan after just two years in the role.

The C$189.5 billion ($148.1 billion USD) retirement fund announced its CIO’s departure on Tuesday along with news of Ontario Teachers’ calendar-year 2017 returns.

The pension fund said Larsen plans to return to Denmark, his home country, to live with his family. Larsen had joined Ontario Teachers’ in February 2016 after a brief stint as the chief financial officer at Novo A/S in Copenhagen. He had previously served more than a decade as the CIO at ATP, the largest pension plan in Denmark.

Ontario Teachers’ chief executive Ron Mock will act as interim CIO until a replacement is found. Mock, who first joined the Canadian pension fund in 2001, was promoted to chief executive officer in 2014, according to Ontario Teachers’ website

Under Larsen’s two-year tenure, Ontario Teachers’ said it adjusted its investment strategy to “combine a proven bottom-up approach to asset selection with a robust, top-down approach to risk management and asset allocation.”

[II Deep Dive: U.S. Pensions Aim to Be More Like Canadian Funds]

For the year ending December 31, 2017, the pension fund reported a total fund net return of 9.7 percent, exceeding its benchmark of 8.2 percent.

As of January 1, Ontario Teachers’ was 105 percent funded, marking five consecutive years of being fully funded. The pension fund said it plans to put its surplus of roughly $10.3 billion into a contingency reserve in case of a severe market event.

“That we were able to achieve this funding surplus while using a prudent discount rate of 4.8 percent, one of the lowest in the pension industry, testifies to the financial health and sustainability of the plan,  said Mock in a statement. “Being in a surplus position in the plan is the true measure of success.”

Ontario Teachers’ five-year total fund net return was 9.6 percent, while its ten-year net return was 7.6 percent, according to the announcement.

When reached by phone, Ontario Teachers’ declined further comment on Larsen’s resignation. Larsen did not immediately respond to a message via LinkedIn. 

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