The Caisse's New Real Estate Chief

The Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ) just announced that Daniel Fournier will soon retire as the CEO of Ivanhoé Cambridge, the Caisse's massive real estate subsidiary, and will be replaced by Nathalie Palladitchef who is currently the President of the organization:
After more than ten years of service at Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ), including over nine as the CEO of Ivanhoé Cambridge, Daniel Fournier has announced that he will retire in fall 2019. To ensure an orderly transition, Mr. Fournier will continue to serve in his role until October 15, 2019.

“Daniel has done an outstanding job turning Ivanhoé Cambridge into one of the world’s largest real estate investors. Thanks to him and his team, Ivanhoé Cambridge has built world-class expertise in acquiring, developing and managing real estate assets. His legacy – a unified and truly global real estate company with a clear strategy and solid execution capability – is one that CDPQ will be able to build upon for generations,” said Michael Sabia, President and Chief Executive Officer of CDPQ.

In 2011, Mr. Fournier led the consolidation of CDPQ’s real estate subsidiaries – SITQ and Ivanhoé Cambridge – under a single banner to give the group a stronger edge in the face of global competition and to gain access to transactions on a larger scale. Under Mr. Fournier’s leadership, Ivanhoé Cambridge has become a global presence that employs a selective approach focused on quality partners, projects and assets. During his time as CEO, Ivanhoé Cambridge’s transaction volume, including acquisitions and sales, totalled nearly $100 billion. The company was named Best Global Investor of the Year in 2017 and 2018, a prestigious industry recognition as part of the IPE Real Estate Global Awards.

Under Mr. Fournier’s leadership, Ivanhoé Cambridge has built global portfolios of assets in the residential, office and logistics sectors. The company also launched several large-scale development projects in cities around the world, including the Projet Nouveau Centre in downtown Montréal, and significantly increased its presence in growth markets, especially in Asia Pacific and Latin America. During Mr. Fournier’s time leading the company, Ivanhoé Cambridge’s real estate assets grew from $31 billion to $65 billion, generating net investment income of close to $24 billion, with an average annual return of 11.8%.

“In addition to all his real estate work, Daniel has been a fundamental pillar in CDPQ’s transformation, where he has been recognized for his sharp business acumen, great leadership and unwavering commitment to building this great institution. On behalf of all the people of both Ivanhoé Cambridge and CDPQ, I would like to thank him for his tremendous contribution over the last ten years. It goes without saying that he will be missed,” added Mr. Sabia.

Robert Tessier, Chairman of CDPQ’s Board of Directors, said, “At CDPQ, we often talk about the importance of building strong Québec companies that can compete successfully in international markets. I think Ivanhoé Cambridge is a shining example of this. After skillfully leading the consolidation of CDPQ’s real estate subsidiaries, Daniel and his team truly transformed Ivanhoé Cambridge into a global player. His vision and great sense of responsibility should also be highlighted, as they have led him to create a strong management team and a solid succession to write the company’s next chapter.”

“As I look back at the last ten years, I realize just how much we have accomplished at Ivanhoé Cambridge. We elevated this Québec company into the ranks of the world’s largest real estate investors. It has been an honour to work for a company that is so important to CDPQ and to Québec,” said Mr. Fournier.

The succession team

Nathalie Palladitcheff is appointed President and Chief Executive Officer of Ivanhoé Cambridge.

After joining Ivanhoé Cambridge in 2015, Ms. Palladitcheff was appointed President in 2018. Her responsibilities in this role included developing and executing Ivanhoé Cambridge’s global strategy and ensuring the alignment of its investment and corporate activities. She led the strategic planning process, supervised the company’s overall financial activities and was responsible for human resources, legal affairs and information technology. Before joining Ivanhoé Cambridge’s management team, Ms. Palladitcheff held various management positions in real estate investment, development and services at private and public companies.

In her new role, Ms. Palladitcheff will work closely with Sylvain Fortier, Chief Investment and Innovation Officer, whose functions were expanded and include responsibility for the company’s overall investment activities.

With over 30 years of real estate experience, Mr. Fortier joined CDPQ in 2004. In 2011, he was appointed to lead the residential business unit of the newly formed Ivanhoé Cambridge and was also responsible for real estate funds and hotels. As Chief Investment and Innovation Officer, Mr. Fortier supervises the development and implementation of new strategies to reinforce Ivanhoé Cambridge’s leadership in the industry and promote corporate social responsibility.

“We have been working with the Ivanhoé Cambridge Board of Directors on the succession plan for several years. Today, I am very proud to pass the torch to Nathalie and Sylvain, two exceptional leaders whom I admire and who are devoted, passionate and embody the leadership that will guide Ivanhoé Cambridge for the future,” noted Mr. Fournier.

“It’s a real honour for me to take the reins of this company, which has a solid foundation and a future filled with possibilities. I’d like to thank Daniel for his trust and commitment to preparing his succession. Supported by the strong team in place, Sylvain and I will carry on the work he started and push the boundaries of this industry in transformation,” said Ms. Palladitcheff.

Earlier this year, it was announced that Ivanhoé Cambridge’s President and Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Board roles would now be separate. In the coming months, a new Chairman of the Board will be appointed by the Ivanhoé Cambridge Board of Directors, upon recommendation from the CDPQ Board of Directors.

The announced changes will be effective October 15, 2019.

Complete biographical notes for Mr. Fournier, Ms. Palladitcheff and Mr. Fortier are included with this news release.


Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ) is a long-term institutional investor that manages funds primarily for public and parapublic pension and insurance plans. As at June 30, 2019, it held CAD 326.7 billion in net assets. As one of Canada’s leading institutional fund managers, CDPQ invests globally in major financial markets, private equity, infrastructure, real estate and private debt. For more information, visit, follow us on Twitter @LaCDPQ or consult our Facebookor LinkedIn pages.


Ivanhoé Cambridge develops and invests in high-quality real estate properties, projects and companies that are shaping the urban fabric in dynamic cities around the world. It does so responsibly, with a view to generate long-term performance. Ivanhoé Cambridge is committed to creating living spaces that foster the well-being of people and communities, while reducing its environmental footprint.

Vertically integrated in Canada, Ivanhoé Cambridge invests internationally alongside strategic partners and major real estate funds that are leaders in their markets. Through subsidiaries and partnerships, the Company holds interests in more than 1,000 buildings, primarily in the industrial and logistics, office, residential and retail sectors. Ivanhoé Cambridge held close to C$65 billion in real estate assets as at December 31, 2018 and is a real estate subsidiary of the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (, one of Canada’s leading institutional fund managers. For more information:
The complete biographical notes for Mr. Fournier, Ms. Palladitcheff and Mr. Fortier are included below:
With this announcement, the Caisse's two real estate subsidiaries, Ivanhoé Cambridge and Otéra Capital, are now run by women, a very big deal in a male-dominated sector.

Rana Ghorayeb is the President and CEO of Otéra Capital (see the entire executive committee here). She was appointed to this position in late May replacing Alfonso Graceffa who was asked to leave after an internal investigation found serious ethical lapses.

Graceffa is suing the Caisse and other units for $7.35 million, claiming his firing was unjustified, but the Caisse is sticking by its decision.

Anyway, enough with that whole sordid story which started with alleged mafia ties. If it's one thing you know about Michael Sabia, he has zero tolerance for anything remotely shady and he and Otéra's board made the best decision placing Rana Ghorayeb at the top job there.

I don't know her personally but a friend of mine who worked with her told me she is very impressive, smart, and extremely ethical. She has a very interesting background, emigrated to Canada from Lebanon with her family after the war, and worked in for TIAA-CREF in New York and JP Morgan Asset Management in London  overseeing real estate investments prior to joining the Caisse's infrastructure team.

Nathalie Palladitcheff is equally impressive. I've never met her but saw an interview with her in French and was extremely impressed (and I'm not just saying this because she is a woman). She comes across as a very classy, knowledgeable, and solid leader who really knows her stuff and she communicates very clearly:

Real estate has always been one of the most important asset classes at the Caisse. It's a long duration asset which has performed extremely well over the very long run, delivering great risk-adjusted returns.

In fact, along with infrastructure, another very long duration asset class which has come of age at the Caisse under Michael Sabia's watch, it represents Real Assets which are extremely important assets going forward.

Daniel Fournier, the outgoing CEO of Ivanhoé Cambridge, did a fantastic job running this organization during last ten years. Real estate comprises roughly 12% of the Caisse's total assets and over the last 5 years has delivered an average annual return of 9.8%.  

I would invite you to read pages 42-43 of the Caisse's 2018 Annual Report which covers their real estate holdings and activities in detail:

Canadian and US real estate make up the bulk of Ivanhoé Cambridge's assets but over the last five years, Canadian exposure has been significantly reduced while US has been significantly increased (good move, mostly in multifamily and especially logistics to capture the growth of e-commerce).

Going forward, there will be a big push into Growth Markets headed by Rita-Rose Gagné, another very impressive young lady.

In fact, the entire leadership team and board of directors at Ivanhoé Cambridge is impressive so Ms. Palladitcheff is surrounded by very competent people.

She will need very talented people to help her navigate an increasingly complex and uncertain world.

We live in a world where negative interest rates abound, and while lower rates are typically good for real estate, if negative rates hit the US because of a prolonged deflationary cycle, real estate and a lot of other private and public assets are in big trouble.

This weekend, I posted an article on LinkedIn by Peter Osborne warning us to prepare for the coming economic hurricane. I'll let you read his article it but he rightly notes from Germany to Italy to China, there are growing worries that something big is going to crack and he ends on this ominous note:
Of course, cyclical downturns of this kind, however unpleasant, are routine occurrences. What makes me truly nervous about this one is mounting global debt, which now stands at a far higher level than it did ahead of the 2008 recession.

This is deeply worrying because back in 2008, governments around the world were able to solve — or, at least, ameliorate — the problem by investing huge sums, bailing out banks and re‑floating the economy via quantitative easing (in which central banks injected new money into the system).

Yes, it worked then, but if another financial crash of that size happens, we lack the means to do it again. National balance sheets have not recovered.

And it’s not just national debt. Average UK household debt is now more than £15,000 — that’s £2,000 more than the alarming level reached in 2008. 

Consider this terrifying statistic: unsecured debt stood at a £286 billion in 2008. That was unsustainable then, but today it stands at £428 billion.

The same trends are seen internationally. Last week, U.S. mortgage debt reached a record level — $9.406 trillion, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York — which, for the first time, surpasses the high of $9.294 trillion from 2008.

On Wednesday something sinister occurred. For the first time in 12 years, yields on long-term bonds fell below those on short-term bonds.

For the last half century, this so-called inversion of the yield curve has been an infallible sign that recession is on its way.

The terrifying truth is that world growth has been financed on a borrowing splurge for the past decade.
Before you jump off a cliff, however, the good news is this afternoon, I spoke with Simon Lamy, who for over 20 years was the best fixed-income portfolio manager at the Caisse.

Simon is now running his own hedge fund and in my opinion, the Caisse should seed him with $1 billion to start a global macro fund in Montreal (I'm dead serious, not that he needs it). Not only is he brilliant, he's humble, very honest and a great trader and macro thinker.

There are two people the Caisse's Fixed Income group should have held on to no matter what, Simon Lamy and Brian Romanchuk, but alas, organizational politics and bonehead HR moves got the best of them.

Anyway, Simon told me the most significant move in bonds have happened since Mario Draghi's June press conference when the ECB stated it will do "whatever it takes to fight deflation" and other central banks including the Fed followed suit.

He agreed with me that the recent move in global bond yields was mostly CTAs who according to him "piled in front of mortgage funds hedging their book (buying US Treasurys) as rates plunged to new lows."

But Simon thinks too much is being made of the inversion of the US yield curve which is more technical in nature and not based on economic fundamentals.

He told me "negative yields can come to the US" but for that to happen you need to see deflation rearing its ugly head and "central banks have told you they will do whatever it takes to fight it."

Still, he did add this: "A lot of the problems around the world are structural in nature (demographics, etc.) so central banks will not solve everything by cutting rates and engaging in more QE. Moreover, negative rates will distort real estate and public markets even more and cause a bigger crisis down the road."

Right now his three highest conviction trades are:
  1. Long Canadian preferred shares (reset based on 5-year Canadian bond yield)
  2. Long US 5-year bond/ short Canada 10-year bond
  3. Positioning for a steepening of the US yield curve (duration-weighted, buy 2-years, sell 10-years)
Of course, he agreed with me that if deflation eventually comes to the US, we're in big trouble and will go the way of Japan or far worse.

Anyway, I need to cover the bond market in more detail later this week and thank Simon Lamy for another great conversation (merci beaucoup!!). There are a few gentlemen still left in the finance industry, he's definitely one of them.

As for Daniel Fournier, I wish him a nice retirement and wish Nathalie Palladitchef, Rana Ghorayeb, and Sylvain Fortier a lot of success in their new respective roles.

I'm convinced under their watch, the Caisse's real estate subsidiaries will thrive.

Below, buildings are so much more than the walls that define an enclosed space. They’re about how people feel in that time… and at that place. Find out How Ivanhoé Cambridge creates living spaces and watch their 2018 activity report.

I also embedded a couple of market clips I saw this morning worth sharing. David Rosenberg, Gluskin Sheff chief strategist and economist, Quincy Krosby, Prudential Financial's chief market strategist, join "Squawk on the Street" to discuss the stocks and bonds markets as recession fears loom.

And Liz Ann Sonders, Charles Schwab chief investment strategist, joins "Squawk Alley" to discuss the markets and fears of a recession. Smart lady, I like her market views.