Friday, August 1, 2008

Leo de Bever Starts Heading Up AIMCo


A buddy of mine told me that Leo de Bever was coming back to Canada to head up the $75 billion Alberta Investment Management Corporation (AIMCo). According to this press release, he starts his new job in this month.

Mr. de Bever joins AIMCo after spending the last year and a half in Australia heading up the Victorian Funds Management Corporation (VFMC), a $41 billion superannuation fund. Before joining VFMC, he spent two years as executive vice-president of global investment management with Manulife Financial, a leading Canadian-based insurer. Before this, he spent 10 years at the Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan (OTPP) where he was responsible for long term investment strategy, risk management and real return assets, including inflation indexed bonds, infrastructure, timberland and commodities. Prior to that, he spent five years at the Bank of Canada. Mr. de Bever holds a PhD in Economics from the University of Wisconsin.

There are only a handful of people I ever met in the investment world that made a strong impression on me and he ranks right up there.

I met him a couple of years ago before he left for Australia and I got to chat with him for about an hour one on one prior to his meeting.

The first thing that struck me is his intellectual depth. He is a prolific reader and it shows. At the time he was reading a book on shipping freight rates and he was explaining in intricate detail the fundamentals that drive these rates. It was quite fascinating and I sensed his passion for the subject. In fact, I got the sense I was speaking with a thinker who is constantly thinking ahead to see where the world is heading.

The second thing that struck me was his humility. The investment management world is full of insecure, incompetent, unscrupulous and arrogant jerks who give new meaning to the old Peter Principle. This does not apply to Mr. de Bever. He is someone who got to where he is based purely on hard work, brains and merit and he is open to discussing different points of view.

You can listen to a recent BNN interview with Leo de Bever by clicking here. Importantly, pay attention to where he thinks the opportunities lie in the next ten years (hint: it isn't in traditional private equity, infrastructure and real estate).

As you watch this interview, you will get a little sense of why I believe that AIMCo is very lucky to have him as their new CEO.

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