CANADA/UK - Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System (OMERS), one of Canada's largest pension funds with net investments of CA$52bn (€32.4bn), is expanding its global presence with the opening of an office in London.

OMERS has CA$5bn of capital interests already invested in real estate and infrastructure assets in the United Kingdom which boast an enterprise value of over $10bn (€6.24bn), including Associated British Ports, Scotia Gas Networks and the Watermark Place office complex being built in London.

The London office will open under the OMERS Worldwide brand and will act as its European headquarters for accelerating its expansion into private market investments in the real estate, infrastructure, private equity and capital sectors.

"Our long-term goal is to invest 42.5% of our net investment assets in private markets on a global basis," said Michael Nobrega, president and chief executive of OMERS.

"We want access to large-scale opportunities and co-investment capital around the world. Locating in London expedites the process and enables us to dip into the local talent pool for professionals with global vision," he added.

OMERS, which at December 2007 had 30% of its net investment assets in real estate, private equity and infrastructure, plans to further establish its global footprint by opening other global offices once relationships with co-investors are formed and new investment opportunities are uncovered.

"Our real estate and infrastructure professionals are in touch with several billion of dollars of new investments that we cannot prudently afford on our own," said Nobrega.

"We need agreements with co-investors who want what we want- -large-scale assets that generate hundreds of millions of dollars of reliable cash flow annually for many years to come," he continued.

OMERS follows in the footsteps on the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board and the Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan who have already opened offices in London.

OMERS Worldwide currently has four investment arms under its banner:

Oxford Properties Group, which oversees and manages $16bn (€9.98bn) of real estate for OMERS and its co-owners and investors.

Borealis Infrastructure, a pioneer that has developed a portfolio of infrastructure assets valued at over $25bn with other investors.

OMERS Private Equity, managers of $3.6bn (€2.24bn) worth of assets in global funds; and

OMERS Capital Markets, which has exposure of $37bn (€23.1bn) to fixed income and equity investments in financial markets worldwide.

OMERS provides retirement benefits to 38,000 members for over 900 different employers in the Ontario province.