Former head of Canada’s largest pension fund joins Singapore-based venture capital firm

The former head of the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board joins a Singapore-based venture capital group in his first role since leaving the fund after his decision to fly to the Middle East to receive a Covid-19 vaccine has caused a nationwide reaction.

Mark Machin, who resigned as managing director of the $ 356 billion fund in February, will join Serendipity Capital’s board of directors on August 1.

Serendipity, a venture capital group founded in 2020, invests in financial services, technology and climate-focused businesses and has filed in the United States to raise up to $ 250 million from a Spac focused on Asia.

“All travel must come to an end,” he wrote in an email to CPPIB staff seen by the Financial Times. “We have said that it is better to travel than to arrive. And we traveled well. Machin’s tenure at the fund officially ended last Tuesday.

Machin personally traveled to the United Arab Emirates for a Covid-19 vaccine in February, a period of strict travel controls in Canada. The trip sparked outrage, including a reprimand from Chrystia Freeland, Canada’s Minister of Finance. “Canadians trust the CPPIB and expect it to meet higher standards,” she said at the time.

Canada’s largest pension fund has generated average annual returns of 11% since Machin took over five years ago, increasing total assets from $ 280 billion to nearly $ 500 billion.

The financier’s move to Asia follows almost a decade’s stint in various positions at CPPIB and marks a return to the region where he has spent much of his career.

Machin trained as a doctor before joining Goldman Sachs, working most of his two decades with the bank in Asia, where he became head of investment banking and vice president for Asia excluding Japan.

He left Goldman in 2012 for the CPPIB, which manages investments in the Canada Pension Plan, a mainstay of the country’s pension system with more than 20 million contributors.

Machin will serve as the non-executive director of Serendipity and “help lead the strategy and governance of the company,” said Robert Jesudason, Managing Director.

Serendipity has invested in companies such as UK-based Cambridge Quantum Computing, which will soon form a joint venture with the quantum computing firm of Honeywell, the US conglomerate, as well as the investment and advisory firm. on Climate Change Pollination.

“Clearly [Machin] brings tremendous investment management experience, and understands industry trends, ”said Jesudason, adding that Machin“ also brings deep relationships and perspective to Asia-Pacific ”.

Singapore has invested heavily to position itself as the technology and start-up hub of Southeast Asia, attracting a growing number of investors. The city-state is home to more than “200 venture capitalists,” according to the government, and accounts for the bulk of venture capital investment in Southeast Asia.

Investors invested S $ 5.5 billion ($ 4.1 billion) in Singapore-based start-ups in 2020, nearly three times the amount invested five years ago.

Additional reporting by Stefania Palma in Singapore

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