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Progress on Canada Infrastructure Bank: Directors named

Americas / 21-11-17 / by
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The soon-to-be-operational Canada Infrastructure Bank now has a board of directors to ensure that the bank successfully delivers on its mandate, the exact specifics of which have not yet been revealed.

The board members are:

  • Kimberly Baird, former chief of the Tsawwassen First Nation in British Columbia
  • Jane Bird, Vancouver lawyer and senior business advisor at Bennett Jones
  • Dave Bronconnier, former Calgary mayor and former federal Liberal candidate
  • James Cherry, former president and CEO of Aéroports de Montréal
  • Michèle Colpron, international finance executive and former CFO of Merrill Lynch Bank (Suisse) and Standard Chartered Bank (Switzerland)
  • Bruno Guilmette, senior infrastructure executive and former senior vice-president of PSP Investments
  • Christopher Hickman, chairman and CEO of Marco Group of Companies
  • Poonam Puri, professor at Osgoode Hall Law School
  • Stephen Smith, CEO of First National Financial and former board member of Metrolinx Inc.
  • Patricia Youzwa, board member of the Canada West Foundation and former president and CEO of SaskPower

The board is led by former CFO of Royal Bank of Canada, Janice Fukakusa, who was appointed chairperson of the new bank back in July.

The Canadian government has come under fire from some local groups for passing control of the bank to a board that is so greatly linked to the world of private finance. The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), for one, says that it has warned the government about “the dangers of handing bank oversight to a board stacked with banking and finance representatives – the very sectors that will profit from the Canada Infrastructure Bank”.

“Yet… the bank will play a key role in large public infrastructure projects. It’s a fundamental imbalance,” CUPE writes on its website.

The Canadian government is planning to spend C$180bn on infrastructure over the next 12 years and the Canada Infrastructure Bank has committed to C$35bn-worth of investment.

According to the new bank’s website, its mandate is to invest in projects that “will contribute to [the country’s] long-term economic growth and support the creation of good, well-paying jobs for the middle class”.

 

Sparse details

Despite plans to be operational by the end of 2017, details on the bank’s structure and the type of investment it will offer remain thin on the ground.

“The bank will develop its own organisational structure once operational and, as per its legislation, will be able to use a wide breadth of financial instruments such as debt and equity investments, loan guarantees and other innovative tools. The specific financial instruments used will depend on what makes most sense for any given project,” a government spokesperson says.

The Canadians that GTR spoke to for a recent feature didn’t seem to know much more about the future plans.

“The Canada Infrastructure Bank is a little bit of an enigma to us too,” Benjamin Gross, partner at Lavery’s business law group and co-chair of Lavery’s infrastructure law group, told GTR earlier in the year.

At the time he mooted that the new bank would involve the participation of infrastructure experts: “The government has understood that sending ministers who may not be that aware of how infrastructure works into the market to try to get funds from foreigners or investors is not the best way to do things. So they’ve actually gone out and got themselves some high-level infrastructure experts. I don’t believe this is necessarily going to be a bank in the way we understand it generally. I think this is going to be a conglomeration of excessively knowledgeable individuals who will create a way to invest in infrastructure that will bring back revenue,” he told GTR.

Nevertheless, the country’s minister of infrastructure and communities, Amarjeet Sohi, believes the bank is on the right track: “The appointment of the board of directors is another important milestone towards the Canada Infrastructure Bank becoming operational. The range of expertise and experience that these directors bring is invaluable to the success of the bank and to the investments that it will make in Canadian communities, which will create good jobs across the country,” he says.

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