AIMCo Names Siddall as Chief Executive After 2020 Trade Loss

Alberta Investment Management Corp. appointed Evan Siddall as its new chief executive officer after the pension management company made a wrong-way bet on volatility last year.

Siddall is the former CEO of Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp., the national housing agency. He will succeed Kevin Uebelein, who held the post for more than six years, on July 1, according to a statement issued Thursday.

AIMCo Names Siddall as Chief Executive After 2020 Trade Loss

The leadership change came as AIMCo reported a total fund return of 2.5% last year, equal to C$3 billion ($2.4 billion) in net investment income. The tepid results, down from annualized total fund returns of 7.7% over 10 years, came after the company’s bet against market volatility early last year resulted in a loss of about C$2.1 billion at the time.

“We have had some challenges,” Mark Wiseman, AIMCo’s chairman, said in a BNN Bloomberg TV interview. “Bringing in a new leader is going to help us continue to navigate what is very choppy waters.”

The company, which manages funds on behalf of more than 30 institutions in the province, wants Siddall to look for more investment opportunities at home, particularly those related to a transition toward cleaner energy such as hydrogen and carbon capture, Wiseman said.

“We think AIMCo can play a really special role as being part of helping to finance that transition in the economy,” he said.

Siddall comes to AIMCo after leading CMHC for seven years, during a time of massive appreciation in Canadian housing values in cities including Vancouver and Toronto. His prediction, at the start of the Covid-19 outbreak, that the pandemic would reverse the growth, resulting in a 9% to 18% plunge in home values, proved wrong. Instead, the market recorded a record year for sales and prices. Siddall explained the error in March, saying he was sharing the predictions of colleagues.

“I am looking forward to working with AIMCo’s talented team of professionals in delivering consistently superior investment performance on behalf of our clients,” Siddall said in the release.

AIMCo’s loss early last year caused one Alberta pension, the Local Authorities Pension Plan, to report a first-quarter loss of C$5.1 billion, with “nearly all” asset classes underperforming. The loss was followed by the appointment of Wiseman as a director at AIMCo and chair of the board of directors in June, replacing Richard Bird.

The Financial Post reported in November that Uebelein would be stepping down, most likely by July 2021. Wiseman said Uebelein wasn’t asked to leave, according to the report.

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