Caisse’s Emond Has No Regrets About Exiting Oil Stocks Early

(Bloomberg) — The head of Caisse de Depot et Placement du Quebec says he has had no second thoughts about its decision to divest from oil producers, arguing the fund is already profiting from a long-term shift toward renewable energy and cleaner fuels.

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The C$392 billion ($304 billion) pension manager decided to sell its remaining shares in oil producers and increase investments in renewable power and technologies that help industrial polluters reduce their carbon footprint. Chief Executive Officer Charles Emond announced the move last September.

The Caisse has followed through. Regulatory filings show the pension manager sold its entire stake in oil-sands majors Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. and Suncor Energy Inc. in the first half of this year. Caisse officials said they’ve now nearly completed the process of selling all oil-company stocks.

Oil producers have been huge winners this year, outperforming the broader stock market indexes as crude prices rose because of robust demand and the disruption of Russia’s war in Ukraine. The S&P 500 Oil and Gas Exploration and Production index has gone up 37% this year.

During a press conference, Emond said the decision to reduce oil exposure was made in 2018 and the money was redeployed elsewhere to “do the right thing for the planet.”

The Montreal-based fund has earned close to C$6 billion in returns from renewable energy and C$2 billion from natural gas investments over a three-year period, Emond said. Chicago-based Invenergy LLC, which offers wind and solar energy, natural gas and storage facilities, and Brazilian natural gas transporter Transportadora Associada de Gas SA are among the successful investments.

Read more: Quebec’s Caisse Writes Off Celsius, Saying Bet Was ‘Too Soon’

“I wouldn’t like to give the impression to the population that we have experienced losses” from selling out of oil stocks, he said. He estimated that has cost the fund about C$1 billion since the Caisse began to cut its crude holdings. “The return is eight times that in renewable energy,” he said. “For me, our depositors are not losers. They are winners.”

Caisse remains a large owner of Canadian pipeline companies Enbridge Inc. and TC Energy Corp., holding $380 million in shares of the two companies, according to regulatory filings compiled by Bloomberg.

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