The Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec has released its annual report, highlighting the results previously announced on Feb. 20, including a return of 10.4 per cent for 2019 and a growth in net assets of $30.6 billion for the year.

“2019 was a good year for investors – markets experienced one of their strongest performance in decades, stimulated by central banks’ quick resumption of highly accommodative monetary policies,” said a statement by Charles Emond, president and chief executive officer of the Caisse, in the report. “But following the events that have shaken the world in recent months, last year already seems a long time ago.”

The report rounded up the Caisse’s impact in Quebec for 2019. Highlights included that total assets in private companies in the province reached $47.6 billion, up more than 155 per cent in 10 years. It also partnered with 750 companies, including more than 650 small and medium enterprises.

As well, the Caisse noted it reached several achievements in its Quebec strategy, including: impactful projects — continued construction on several branches of the Greater Montreal area’s light-rail transit system, including two kilometres of rails on the South Shore and the launch of construction on 10 stations; growth and globalization — investment and support for the growth and globalization of Quebec companies, including Le Germain Hotels, La Coop Fédérée, Golf Avenue and Top Aces Inc.; and innovation and the next generation — the creation of a $250-million fund for companies specializing in artificial intelligence and launch of a $50-million envelope for seed funds for innovative companies.

The Caisse also increased its exposure to global markets, reaching 66.2 per cent at the end of 2019. Highlights included: increased investments in the U.S., including a partnership with Hilco Global and another with Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan and Constellation Insurance Holding to launch a global insurance platform; and key transactions in growth markets with partners, such as LOGOS Group in India, Prologis Inc, in Brazil and Australis Partners and the International Finance Corp. in Colombia.

In terms of private equity, the Caisse invested $10.5 billion in various companies in Quebec and around the world, including transactions in security services in the U.S., health care in Australia and the pharmaceutical industry in Mexico. It reached almost $5 million in infrastructure investments, including stakes in an energy leader in Brazil and a U.S. communications towers company.

And for real estate, 2019 saw more than $11 billion in acquisitions, capital investments and sales, including increases in assets in industrial sectors in Asia Pacific, Brazil and India, as well as in logistics in the U.K.

In the 2019 report, Emond acknowledged that challenges times lie ahead. “As an institution that manages the pension and insurance plan investments of millions of Quebecers, we have the obligation to look beyond the turbulence,” he said .”We must continue to focus on the long-term and be at the ready. We are well positioned as we enter this crisis, with a strong financial foundation and the flexibility required to seize the opportunities that will arise in the coming years.”