The British Columbia Investment Management Corp. returned 16.5 per cent for its combined pension plan clients and increased its assets under management from $171.3 billion to 199.6 billion in the year ended March 31, 2021.

In its annual report, the investment manager said the $28.3 billion increase of assets under management reflected investment gains of $27.4 billion and $900 million of client net contributions.

Over the past 10 years, the BCI has seen annualized returns of about nine per cent. In the previous annual report, which covered the same period in 2019/20, the BCI saw investment gains of three per cent.

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“Our investment performance reflects the strength and resiliency of the portfolios across the asset classes and our focus on owning quality companies for the long term,” said Gordon J. Fyfe, chief executive officer and chief investment officer of the BCI, in a press release. “All of this came to fruition during the pandemic where the entire team successfully pivoted and adapted to a largely remote working environment while maintaining our focus on putting our clients first.”

Over the course of the year covered in the annual report, the BCI’s asset mix shifted slightly, with investments in fixed income growing from $57.1 billion to $71.2 billion, while its investments in public equities increasing from $55.7 billion to $66.6 billion and its investments in sustainable bonds was up about $1 billion, from about $400 million the previous year. The BCI also announced plans to invest another $3.5 billion in sustainable bonds by 2025.

The BCI’s private equity assets under management, which cover 10.4 per cent of its portfolio, increased from $17.9 million to $20.7 billion during the period. With a sector-focused strategy, the program committed $2.6 billion total during the calendar year 2020, according to the report, which noted it invested $900 million in six direct investments diversified by sector and geography during fiscal 2021.

Read: BCI investing in Indian telecommunications, CPPIB in Brazilian real estate

During the same period, the BCI’s infrastructure and renewable resources program, which represents 10 per cent of assets under management, grew from $18.3 billion to $20 billion. The report noted that notable new investments included the acquisition of an ownership stake, alongside other institutional partners, in a high-quality portfolio of about 136,000 communication towers in India. The BCI also increased its investment in Teays River Investments, a U.S.-based platform company with interests in multiple food and agricultural-focused businesses.