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Canada fund AIMCo picks Singapore over Hong Kong for Asia beachhead

Alberta’s $129 billion investment manager is looking at Singapore rather than Hong Kong for its first office in Asia as it plots an international expansion of its private equity group.

Alberta Investment Management Corp., known as AIMCo, plans to increase its allocation to Asia-based investments and will need staff on the ground to do that, said Peter Teti, head of private equity and international. Singapore has clear advantages, he said.

AIMCo “will have a pan-Asian strategy as opposed to just, for example, a Chinese strategy,” Mr. Teti said in an interview. “Singapore seems to be a potentially logical place to have a base through which you can invest across Asia and that will include Australia, New Zealand as well.”

Singapore is gaining capital and finance jobs thanks in part to tensions over China’s regulatory crackdown and its handling of Hong Kong. BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager, is in talks to double its floorspace at an office block in Singapore, people familiar with the matter said last month.

AIMCo hopes to learn from Canadian peers that have established offices in the city-state, Mr. Teti said. Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan opened a Singapore office in 2020. The Caisse de Depot et Placement du Quebec is also established there as is OMERS, an Ontario pension fund.

“Singapore is increasingly attractive relative to other places like Hong Kong that are close to China and that have experienced some geopolitical issues,” Mr. Teti said.

Just 2% of AIMCo’s C$8.2 billion ($6.3 billion) in private equity assets were in Asia last year, according to the firm’s 2021 annual report. The group invests in private deals directly and through funds, including those managed by Baring Private Equity Asia and FountainVest Partners Co.

Alberta, with a population of 4.5 million people, is the province that produces the vast majority of Canada’s oil. AIMCo handles money for a number of pension plans and other government funds from its base in Edmonton.

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