Canada Pension Fund CEO Mark Machin Resigns After Vaccination Trip to UAE


The Canada Pension Plan Investment Board accepted the resignation of CEO Mark Machin, a day after The Wall Street Journal reported that he had traveled to the United Arab Emirates and received a Covid-19 vaccine there.

The CPPIB, Canada’s largest pension fund and one of the world’s largest institutional investors, said John Graham would replace Machin as CEO, effective immediately. Mr. Graham, Senior Chief Executive Officer, has been with the fund for a decade and previously was Global Head of Credit Investments.

Machin, an investment banker at Goldman Sachs Group Inc. for two decades, made the trip despite advice from the Canadian government not to travel during the pandemic and in the midst of one of the slowest vaccine launches in the West.

CPPIB is a crown corporation, which means that it is governed independently of the federal government, but it is the administrator of the pension obligations that are imposed by the government. Board members are selected by the ministry of finance. Katherine Cuplinskas, a spokeswoman for Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland, said the minister spoke to the CPPIB board Thursday night about Machin’s trip to make it “clear that Canadians place their trust in CPPIB and hope keep it at a higher level. ” . ”

“We are very disappointed by this worrying situation and we support the swift action taken by the Board of Directors,” Cuplinskas said.

Machin had no comment when the Journal contacted him by phone on Friday. A CPPIB spokesperson did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Machin’s trip came as a surprise to many within the pension fund and his resignation added to a feeling of shock, according to a person familiar with the matter. The global nature of the fund’s workforce led to a ripple effect of calls and emails. The pension fund had more than 1,800 employees in nine offices, from Toronto to New York, London and Mumbai, as of mid-2020. Many of those employees still work from home.

On Thursday, the Journal reported that the 54-year-old Machin received the Covid-19 vaccine in the United Arab Emirates, ahead of millions of Canadians waiting for one at home.

There is no evidence that Machin, a British citizen, violated any laws to secure his dose. The Canadian government has urged residents to avoid travel abroad, but has not banned it. The UAE, meanwhile, has said it is distributing vaccines to residents, a designation foreigners can obtain through activities such as investing, buying property, or starting a local business. There is no evidence that Mr. Machin is a resident.

The UAE has made exceptions to its residency requirements. In January, the UAE-sponsored cycling team that won the 2020 Tour de France, a group of around 60 riders and mostly non-resident staff, received doses of a Chinese-made vaccine in Abu Dhabi.

The UAE, a federation of seven emirates that includes the Dubai Mall, has overtaken almost every country in the world with an ambitious vaccination campaign.

As director of the CPPIB, Mr. Machin was responsible for overseeing the money set aside for the retirement of approximately 20 million Canadians who contribute to the country’s public pension plan.

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The Canadian fund as of March 2020 had interests in several UAE companies, including Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank PJSC and Emirates Telecommunications Group Co. PJSC, according to the fund’s annual disclosures of foreign equity. Last year, the fund invested in Kuaishou Technology’s $ 5.4 billion equity debut,

a Chinese video streaming startup, along with the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, a large UAE sovereign wealth fund.

Mr. Machin’s vaccination comes amid furor in other parts of the world over cases where wealthy or well-connected people have been able to jump the line for a vaccine. Most of the world is carefully dosing to prioritize the most vulnerable, or those on the front lines fighting the pandemic.

In Peru, dozens of government consultants, lobbyists, cabinet ministers and people related to them, and the former president and his family, secretly received vaccines last year, sparking a scandal that is now known as the Puerta de las Vacunas. Last month, Florida restricted vaccinations to those who could show proof of residency. Officials offered the vaccine to anyone over 65 but worried the state was becoming a draw for vaccine tourism. Many Canadians, in particular, have been looking to charter planes for quick trips to and from Florida to get vaccinations.

Vaccines are particularly rare in Canada. About 4% of the Canadian population have received at least one dose, compared to 20% in the US, according to a tracker from the University of Oxford.

Machin has been the chief executive of the Toronto-based pension fund since June 2016. He previously oversaw its international operations. Before his career in finance, he graduated as a doctor in the UK after studying at the universities of Oxford and Cambridge.

As highly communicable coronavirus variants spread across the world, scientists are racing to understand why these new versions of the virus are spreading faster and what this could mean for vaccination efforts. New research says the key may be spike protein, which gives the coronavirus its unmistakable shape. Illustration: Nick Collingwood / WSJ

Write to Jenny Strasburg at [email protected] and Jacquie McNish at [email protected]

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