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Pension Giant Caisse Taps Bell Canada for Top Lawyer

Oct. 27, 2020, 9:46 AM

Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, Canada’s second-largest pension fund and a major institutional investor, announced Monday its addition of a new legal chief.

Michel Lalande will become executive vice president of legal affairs and secretariat at Quebec City-based Caisse in January. The move comes nearly a year after he was promoted to his current role as chief legal officer and corporate secretary at BCE Inc.

Lalande didn’t respond to request for comment about his decision to leave BCE, the Montreal-based parent of telecommunications giant Bell Canada.

“I am very proud and pleased to join such a talented team at CDPQ, an organization serving Quebecers that is present around the world,” Lalande said in a statement. “I look forward to taking on this important challenge and to contributing to CDPQ’s success alongside the legal affairs team.”

CDPQ, also known as Caisse, teamed up with DP World PLC in September to invest an additional $4.5 billion in port terminals around the world and moved forward on a deal that will see it receive $2.2 billion from the sale of Bombardier Inc.’s rail unit.

Caisse, which recently lost $75 million through an ill-fated bet on bankrupt Cirque du Soleil Entertainment Group, has watched its overall investment portfolio suffer this year due to its exposure to shopping malls and other assets hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic. Caisse recently got a boost from its investment in Nuvei Corp., a Montreal-based payments technology company that went public in September, marking the largest Canadian technology stock market debut this year.

Lalande will succeed former legal chief Kim Thomassin, who was promoted in April to head of Quebec investments and stewardship investing. Thomassin, a former partner at leading Canadian law firm McCarthy Tétrault, joined Caisse in 2017 to replace Marie Giguère as its top in-house lawyer.

Giguère and Thomassin were preceded as Caisse’s legal chief by Claude Bergeron, who now serves as the pension fund’s chief risk officer and head of depositor relationships. In July, Caisse hired Marc-André Blanchard, a former chairman and CEO of McCarthy Tétrault who once served as Canada’s ambassador to the United Nations, to oversee the investment giant’s international arm.

Lalande comes to Caisse after almost 19 years at BCE. The latter hired the former corporate associate at Canada’s Fasken as an assistant general counsel in 2000. During the next two decades Lalande held a variety of in-house roles at the company, including general counsel.

BCE promoted Lalande to chief legal officer in February, a month after elevating former chief legal and regulatory officer Mirko Bibic to president and CEO.

A BCE spokesman said the company has yet to name a replacement for Lalande as legal chief.

To contact the reporter on this story: Brian Baxter in New York at bbaxter@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Chris Opfer at copfer@bloomberglaw.com

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