Why Canada’s Pension Fund Is Interested in European River Cruises

October 15, 2018, 11:01 PM UTC

Canada’s $366 billion pension fund has invested in a European river cruise line.

Mark Machin, CEO of Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, the investment arm of Canada’s social insurance program for the country’s citizens, said that his fund put money in Viking Cruises because of a trend it noticed involving aging U.S. Baby Boomers.

“They want to do sightseeing in Europe,” Machin said on Monday at the Fortune Global Forum in Toronto. “Almost all of these people in these boats are aging baby boomers in the U.S.”

Machin didn’t say whether the Viking Cruises investment has paid off, but he implied that it was an example one of the Canadian pension fund’s winners that “may not be immediately intuitive” at first glance.

One thing that the pension fund studies before making investments is “demographics” like U.S. Baby Boomers and the aging population in places like China. By understanding the lifestyle habits or needs of these age groups, the fund can make smart investments in companies or organizations that cater to the needs of elderly.

As for the pension’s other investments, Machin said that emerging markets will be a big part of the fund’s future, with China, India, and Brazil being the “three big markets we will focus on.”

He said that the fund doesn’t currently invest in Africa because it doesn’t “have unlimited resources” and that it needs “to keep our cost base sensible.”

When asked which countries considered to be “emerging markets” cause her the most worry, Afsaneh Beschloss, CEO of investment firm RockCreek, cited countries with a large amount of “dollar debt,” and cited the Philippines, Indonesia, and Turkey.

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However, Wei Sun Christianson, CEO of China for Morgan Stanleyand co-CEO of the bank’s Asia Pacific region, said that India and Indonesia are two countries “that will do relatively better” than other emerging markets. These countries are “dealing with the trade tension we are talking about,” she said.