* CEO says keeping 'close eye' on Trump infrastructure plan
* CEO welcomes Leech appointment by Canadian government
* Performance impacted by decline in fixed income markets
(New throughout, adds CEO comments on infrastructure
By Matt Scuffham
TORONTO, Feb 10 The Canada Pension Plan
Investment Board, one of the world's biggest infrastructure
investors, is awaiting details of U.S. President Donald Trump's
planned $1 trillion infrastructure program, its CEO said.
Canada's national pension fund, which already invests
billions of dollars around the world in assets such as roads,
bridges, and airports, would be an obvious candidate to invest
in the program, infrastructure experts say.
The CPPIB, which invests on behalf of 19 million Canadians,
has said it sees potential opportunities emerging from policies
pursued by the new U.S. administration, particularly in
Chief Executive Mark Machin said on Friday the fund was
monitoring developments but it was too early to say what
opportunities may materialize while the new administration works
through its priorities.
"They're going to get to infrastructure, I think it's going
to take a little more time but we're hopeful and we're long-term
(investors). We'll keep a close eye on that," Machin said in an
interview after the fund reported third-quarter results.
Machin also said he hoped that Canada's new Infrastructure
Bank, set up by the Liberal government to help attract private
funding for Canadian infrastructure projects, would facilitate
opportunities in the domestic market.
"We're hopeful that the Canada Infrastructure Bank moves
along and we see a good pipeline here as well," Machin said,
welcoming the appointment on Friday of Jim Leech, former chief
executive of the Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan, as a special
advisor to the Canadian government.
"He (Leech) is a very, very experienced and credible guy so
that's a really good announcement which should be really
beneficial to them. He has great insights in private investing,"
Canada's biggest public pension plan said its portfolio
delivered a gross investment return of 0.64 percent for the
quarter, or 0.56 percent, net of all cost. It ended the quarter
to Dec. 31 with net assets of C$298 billion ($227 billion),
compared with C$301 billion at the end of the previous quarter.
"The fund's modest return this quarter reflects the largest
quarterly decline in North American fixed income markets since
CPPIB's inception," Machin said.
Although the fund has diversified, the majority of its
investments remain in public equity and fixed income markets.
($1 = 1.3134 Canadian dollars)
(Reporting by Matt Scuffham; Editing by Phil Berlowitz and