News release Return

CDPQ posts a 10.4% annualized return in 2019 and 8.1% over five years

Finance Montréal,

CDPQ’s portfolio produced $106 billion over five years and depositors’ net assets reached $340 billion

Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ) today released its financial results for the year ended December 31, 2019. The weighted average return on its depositors funds was 10.4% in 2019, which represents $31.1 billion in investment results. The annualized return over five and ten years was 8.1% and 9.2%, respectively.

The returns of CDPQ’s eight main depositors ranged from 9.5% to 10.8% for 2019, and from 7.2% to 8.9% over five years. Over ten years, the returns ranged from 8.6% to 10.0%. Across all periods, the returns generated by CDPQ exceeded its depositors’ needs.

CDPQ’s net assets totalled $340.1 billion as at December 31, increasing $114.2 billion over five years, with investment results of $106.0 billion and $8.2 billion in net deposits. Over ten years, investment results were $191.0 billion and net deposits were $17.5 billion.

Change in Net Assets Over Five Years chart.

“We expect the next decade to be more challenging than the past one, during which all investors benefited from the longest bull market in history. In the context of a growing gap between real economic performance and market performance, and multiple indicators prompting us to be cautious, it will be important for our strategy to continue evolving while we manage responsibly and with agility,” said Charles Emond, President and Chief Executive Officer of CDPQ.

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“Overall, CDPQ’s portfolio is built to be more stable over the long term and less vulnerable to sharp market movements, so it is well positioned to take on the headwinds that await us. To date, it has delivered the expected long-term returns, with a level of risk that reflects the needs of our depositors,” he added.

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Over five years, CDPQ has generated $11 billion in value added compared to its benchmark portfolio. Over ten years, it has produced over $18 billion in value added for its depositors.

For the one-year period ending December 31, 2019, CDPQ’s return is 1.6% below that of its benchmark, which largely stems from the Real Estate and Infrastructure portfolios whose assets are by definition oriented toward the long term. An analysis of the return generated by these portfolios is provided in the Real Assets section.


Returns by asset class

Returns by asset class table.

Detailed information on the returns of each asset class is provided in a table at the end of this news release and in the backgrounders included with this news release.

In 2019, CDPQ stayed the course on its investment strategy, which focuses on absolute-return management, the globalization of its activities, strategic partnerships and strengthening its impact in Québec. Within each of the main asset classes – Fixed Income, Real Assets and Equity – CDPQ’s teams have worked to advance these priorities, as shown by various achievements throughout the year.

Fixed Income: Accelerating deployment in private credit, a major performance driver

Over the last three years, CDPQ has made a strategic shift in its fixed income activities to increase exposure to corporate credit, real estate debt, specialty finance and sovereign credit. More specifically, it seeks business opportunities in private credit to generate superior returns and increase its impact on companies. In this asset class, which was, until recently, still concentrated in Canada, CDPQ also significantly raised its exposure to global markets.

Over five years, the Fixed Income asset class generated a 4.3% return and added nearly $4 billion in value compared to its benchmark index. This performance was almost entirely the result of corporate credit and sovereign credit activities. In 2019, credit activities also produced results that greatly exceeded expectations, with a 10.9% return, which significantly contributed to the asset class’s 8.9% overall return.

Real Assets: Accelerating the real estate portfolio’s transition toward the future, pursuing growth in infrastructure

CDPQ’s Real Estate portfolio posted a 7.2% annualized return over five years, which is in line with depositors’ long-term expectations, but below the benchmark index’s 8.8% return. Compared to its benchmark index, the portfolio is notably affected by the weak performance of Canadian shopping centres, in which Ivanhoé Cambridge, CDPQ’s real estate subsidiary, has historically been more present. The valuations of more traditional shopping centres are declining as a result of new consumer habits, and particularly the prevalence of e-commerce. Given these trends, the sector will likely continue to be challenged in the coming years.

In 2019, the real estate portfolio posted a -2.7% return. Even though current returns were steady and investments in funds, equities and the industrial sector offered good performance, the overall return was affected by falling valuations in the Canadian shopping centre sector and, to a lesser extent, residential real estate in New York, in light of new regulations to control rent increases. Long-term debt revaluation related to lower interest rates in the United States also reduced net asset values.

With the market continuing to undergo fundamental changes, Ivanhoé Cambridge will accelerate the transition under way, which aims to lower the weight of more traditional assets and prioritize opportunities in tomorrow’s sectors. Major structural trends such as urbanization, sociodemographic changes and new technologies will guide future investments and foster the development and revitalization of neighbourhoods, as well as the development of connected environments, incorporating cutting-edge industrial solutions. 

Illustrating this transition, over $11 billion of acquisitions, capital investments and sales were completed in 2019. The acquisitions include investments in the industrial sector in the LOGOS platform in Asia Pacific and Prologis in Brazil, as well as the expansion of the platform with PLP in the United Kingdom. Investments were also made in several major development projects, such as Projet Nouveau Centre in Montréal, CIBC Square, a new-generation office campus in Toronto, and the Greenford Quay residential neighbourhood in London.

The Infrastructure portfolio, whose assets have almost tripled over the last five years, posted a five-year annualized return of 9.2%, which largely stems from the good performance and quality of the portfolio companies. The current return, an attractive aspect of this asset class, also made a significant contribution during the period. 

In 2019, the portfolio produced a return of 7.1%, aligned with long-term expectations but below its benchmark index’s return of 17.7%. The benchmark index, which includes over 200 securities of publicly-traded companies, benefited greatly from surging stock markets. CDPQ’s Infrastructure portfolio, comprised of around forty private assets, targets a lower level of risk and more stable long-term performance. Because of their distinct profile, it is more meaningful to compare the returns of the portfolio and its benchmark index over the long term. The portfolio generated a value add of $153 million over the five-year period. 

This year’s infrastructure transactions include the acquisition of a 30% stake in Vertical Bridge, the largest private owner and operator of communications infrastructure in the United States, the acquisition of a 31.5% stake in Brazilian company TAG, alongside ENGIE, as well as investments in various ports, including two in Chile, alongside DP World.

Equities: Active management for optimal risk-return 

Absolute-return management, an investment approach that focuses on selecting assets based on their fundamental value, is today used in the vast majority of CDPQ’s portfolios. As a result of this management style, CDPQ’s Equity Markets portfolio considerably outperformed its benchmark index, adding more than $5 billion in value over five years. The Global Quality mandate, a pillar of the absolute-return management strategy, produced an annualized return of 11.7% and close to $3.7 billion in value added. Integration of active management within the Growth Markets mandate, which was entirely managed using an index-based approach six years ago, is also profitable over the period, generating an annualized return of 9.2% and $1.5 billion in value added. 

In 2019, the Equity Markets portfolio posted a 17.2% return, which represents $17.7 billion in investment results. The difference with the benchmark index, which posted a return of 18.0%, reflects CDPQ’s strategy of prioritizing stocks with quality fundamentals, which are less sensitive to strong market swings, as well as value stocks, which are stocks that appear to be undervalued compared to their intrinsic value but will fulfill their potential over the long term.

In the Equities asset class, the Private Equity portfolio, whose assets today amount to $50 billion, continues to deliver strong annualized returns of 12.5% over five years. This portfolio outperformed its benchmark index, producing $4.8 billion in value added. Private Equity is central to CDPQ’s strategy that aims to build long-term partnerships with companies in Québec and around the world, as well as to support growth and operational excellence. In 2019 alone, CDPQ invested nearly $11 billion in various growing companies, including Hilco Global, a financial services company, Allied Universal, a leader in security services, Healthscope, a leading Australian health care provider and Constellation, a global insurance platform. In 2019, the portfolio posted a 10.5% return, resulting from the strong performance of direct investments, especially publicly-traded companies of which CDPQ is a major partner. The portfolio’s underperformance compared to its benchmark index is primarily due to the benchmark index’s strong weighting of public equities which benefited from the market’s exuberance in 2019.

Impact in Québec: Support growth, finance innovation and develop the next generation

In Québec, CDPQ continued to deploy its three-part strategy: supporting the growth and globalization of Québec companies, supporting innovation and the next generation of entrepreneurs, and implementing impactful projects. At the end of 2019, it had total assets in Québec of $66.7 billion, including $47.6 billion in the private sector. During the year, CDPQ made $3.3 billion in new investments and commitments. It remains a partner of over 650 Québec SMEs.

Growth and globalization 
In 2019, CDPQ continued to actively support Québec companies’ growth in Canada and around the world. For example, CDPQ provided financing for Nuvei’s acquisition in the United Kingdom in the online payment sector, the growth of Alt Hotels, an acquisition by Cirque du Soleil in the United States, the expansion of Golf Avenue in Europe and the United States, as well as an acquisition in Western Canada by eStruxture, a Québec data centre operator.

Innovation and the next generation
Again this year, CDPQ invested in companies focused on the new economy, notably through the launch of a new $250 million fund for companies specialized in artificial intelligence. Of this amount, around $170 million has already been deployed in Element AI, Dialogue and Neuvoo (now known as CDPQ also invested in AlayaCare, a cloud platform in the health care sector, and in Amplitude, in the life sciences sector. It also served as a lead investor for Lightspeed, the first Québec unicorn that went public in 2019.

Over the last year, in addition to all the entrepreneurial activities it supports, CDPQ also put special focus on the development and growth of companies owned by women. This was reflected in commitments to various initiatives, including Technovation, Cheffes de file, Femmessor, Women Initiative Foundation and Réseau des femmes d’affaires du Québec.

Impactful projects
CDPQ Infra, a CDPQ subsidiary, continued to build the Réseau express métropolitain (REM), with multiple segments of the network under construction, including nine stations and several kilometres of tracks on the South Shore. The project is on track and the first rail tests should begin by the end of 2020.

Ivanhoé Cambridge continues to implement its Projet Nouveau Centre, which includes investments of $1 billion to revitalize downtown Montréal. The project involves two major transformations that are under way at the Eaton Centre and Place Ville Marie, which will enhance the quality of the commercial, gastronomical and public space offering.

Stewardship investing: Concrete actions for a low-carbon economy

CDPQ continues to take concrete actions to address climate change. Its objective is to reduce its carbon footprint by 25% per dollar invested by 2025 and add $14 billion in low-carbon assets by the end of 2020, compared to its 2017 levels. Today, CDPQ is one of the only investors in the world to adopt reduction targets and establish incentives for its teams on this front.

In 2019, CDPQ took part in the launch of the Net-Zero Alliance, an unprecedented initiative involving some of the world’s largest investors committed to constructing carbon-neutral portfolios by 2050. In pursuing its climate strategy, it also increased its investments in public transportation – the Barcelona and Sydney metros – and announced its participation in an investment fund for green real estate.

Details on CDPQ’s progress on its climate change strategy will be presented in its Stewardship Investing Report, which will be released in the spring of 2020.



CDPQ’s operating expenses, including external management fees, totalled $757 million in 2019. The expense ratio was 23 cents per $100 of average net assets, a level that compares very favourably to that of its industry.
The credit rating agencies reaffirmed CDPQ’s investment-grade ratings with a stable outlook, namely AAA (DBRS), AAA (S&P), Aaa (Moody’s) and AAA (Fitch Ratings).


Returns table.


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 December 31, 2019, it held CAD 340.1 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 Facebook or LinkedIn pages.

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