OTPP elevates natural resources exec to director

Christopher Metrakos has held an energy-focused position within the C$193bn pension’s natural resources unit since 2014.

The Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan has elevated a director within its natural resources division to lead the unit, which oversees the C$193.9 billion ($146.9 billion; €129.1 billion) pension’s investments in energy, mining, timberland and agriculture.

OTPP announced Tuesday that Christopher Metrakos will be elevated to managing director of natural resources, but declined an interview request.

Metrakos joined OTPP in 2014 as a director in its infrastructure and natural resources division – a position described as focused on energy investments. Prior to joining OTPP, Metrakos spent 10 years in mergers and acquisitions-focused positions at Direct Energy, a natural gas and electricity provider headquartered in Houston, after previously holding positions at Credit Suisse First Boston and Salomon Brothers International.

In August 2017, portfolio manager Stephen McLennan told Agri Investor that OTPP viewed agriculture as an area of growth and a “core building block” of its natural resources strategy.

When asked, McLennan said OTPP would consider investments in funds as part of its agricultural strategy, but he also stressed that its traditional direct investing approach gives his team the ability to manage key risks.

“We are seeing a sweet spot for size, for what you would refer to as a platform, in that $100 million to $400 million range,” McLennan added. “You can start constructing a story that’s sufficient in size and scale to really drive our results from a natural resource portfolio perspective.”

OTPP’s subsequent agricultural investments have included its foray into aquaculture through the purchase of Canadian mussels producer Atlantic Aqua Farms in November of that year; the acquisition of Australian avocado producer Jasper Farms in December 2017; and most recently, the acquisition of vertically-integrated Washington State apple producer Broetje Orchards earlier this year.

“A key aspect of our agriculture strategy includes investing in permanent crops that deliver strong cashflows, strong risk-adjusted returns and inflation protection for members of our pension plan,” OTPP senior managing director for infrastructure and natural resources Dale Burgess told Agri Investor via email last month.