OTPP’s natural resources chief departs

During Andrew Claerhout's tenure, the pension has come to define ag and timber as 'a core building block' of its natural resources strategy.

Andrew Claerhout, head of infrastructure and natural resources at the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, has left the $143 billion Canadian pension. It is not yet known where he will go next.

Dale Burgess, managing director for Latin America, is now interim head of the pension’s infrastructure and natural resources business. He started at OTPP in 1996 as an assistant portfolio manager in the real estate investment group, before joining the infrastructure team in 2003.

The news was first reported by our sister publication Infrastructure Investor.

Natural resources represented 10.5 billion, or 6.1 percent of OTPP’s total assets, at the end of 2016, according to the pension’s latest annual report. Agriculture and timber together accounted for 27 percent of that, with forestry the biggest chunk.

Claerhout had a long tenure at the Canadian pension, which he joined in 2005. He became senior vice-president for infrastructure and natural resources in 2013, after serving as vice-president for private capital, where he ran OTPP’s consumer, retail and industrial sectors. He also led the pension’s London office from its 2007 opening until 2009, when he returned to Toronto.

‘An area of growth’

OTPP’s agriculture portfolio includes large-scale Australian almond grower Aroona Farms, US row cropland specialist Goldcrest Farm and Woodspur Farms, America’s largest organic date grower and processor. In addition, the pension last December acquired Jasper Farms, an Australian avocado producer, for $141 billion.

In January, it hired David Goodfellow as chief executive of Auston, its new Australian agriculture subsidiary. Goodfellow, a former chief executive of the Macquarie Pastoral Fund, joined from Rifa Salutary, a subsidiary of Chinese machinery maker Zhejiang Rifa Holding Group that he had led since 2014.

“Today we are seeing a sweet spot for size, for what we would refer to as a platform”
Stephen McLennan, OTPP

OTPP’s timber portfolio includes OTPPNZ, which operates 35,000 hectares of timberland properties in the Central North Island region of New Zealand. The company produces pine logs for the domestic and export markets.

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

“Today we are seeing a sweet spot for size, for what we would refer to as a platform, in that $100 million to $400 million range,” he added.


A spokesperson for OTPP confirmed Claerhout’s departure, but did not wish to comment further.