CPPIB’s private equity head joins Northleaf to spearhead secondaries

Shane Feeney, who has been responsible for overseeing the pension giant's roughly $101bn private equity portfolio, will join as global head of secondaries.

The head of private equity at Canada Pension Plan Investment Board is leaving the pension to join the secondaries buyside, Secondaries Investor has learned.

Shane Feeney, who became head of the asset class in 2018, is set to join Northleaf Capital Partners, according to three sources familiar with the matter.

His role at Northleaf will be global head of secondaries, Michael Flood, Northleaf managing director, told affiliate title Private Equity International, confirming the appointment.

As part of the appointment, New York-based managing director Matthew Shafer becomes global head of direct private equity, Flood added.

“As the secondary market continues to evolve and grow, GP-led transactions, especially single-asset and more concentrated deals, really require differentiated investment skills,” said Flood. “Shane obviously brings that skill coming from the direct side of the business, and it’s additive to our team.”

Feeney was responsible for overseeing CPPIB’s C$125.1 billion ($101 billion; €85 billion) PE portfolio, which includes secondaries, direct private equity, funds, co-investments and private equity Asia groups.

He also spearheaded the move to integrate the fund’s secondaries with its direct investments, fund investments and Asia investments onto one platform.

It is understood that Feeney will stay on at CPPIB to ensure an orderly transition, and that a succession process is underway.

The combined funds and secondaries portfolio grew to C$49.4 billion ($40.1 billion; €33.6 billion) in the first quarter of this year, from C$41.3 billion the fiscal year prior, buoyed largely by valuation gains, according to the pension’s latest annual report.

The news of Feeney’s departure comes a week after the CPPIB president and chief executive Mark Machin’s last day at the pension. Machin, who resigned in February, has since joined Singapore VC firm Serendipity Capital’s board as a non-executive director, the firm said on Sunday.

CPPIB generated strong performance in its PE portfolio in fiscal 2021, with net returns of 36.3 percent and net income of C$34 billion, according to its latest annual report. That compares with a 5.8 percent net return and C$5.2 billion in net income in fiscal 2020. PE assets also grew from C$94.6 billion to C$125.1 billion over the course of 12 months.

The fund has been a net seller of private fund stakes for the second straight year, following two years of heavy commitment to the strategy, as reported by Secondaries Investor. The pension made C$0.46 billion in commitments across five secondaries transactions in the 12 months to March, representing a 35 percent decline from fiscal 2020 and a nearly 90 percent drop from fiscal 2019.

Northleaf has $16 billion in commitments under management and is active in private equity, private credit and infrastructure. Last year, it sold a 49.9 percent non-controlling position to IGM Financial’s Mackenzie Investments and Great-West Lifeco for C$245 million. Northleaf’s leadership retained a 50.1 percent stake and continue to run the firm independently.

The Toronto-headquartered firm held an $800 million final close on Northleaf Secondary Partners II in 2018 and raised $500 million for separately-managed accounts. It focuses on transaction sizes of less than $100 million and companies with between $10 million and $100 million in EBITDA.

A spokesman for CPPIB declined to comment.

Carmela Mendoza contributed to this report