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ANDREW WILLIS

Thursday, March 01, 2018

Canadian National Railway Co. landed a new chief executive for its $18-billion pension plan, hiring veteran money manager Marlene Puffer away from fund manager Alignvest Management Corp.

Ms. Puffer is expected to join CN on March 1 as president and CEO at the CN Investment Division, taking the reins at one of the country's largest corporate pension plans from Russell Hiscock, who is retiring at the end of March after more than three decades with the Montrealbased railway.

On Mr. Hiscock's watch, and that of his predecessor Tullio Cedraschi, CN executives have been leaders in the pension community, working with other fund managers, politicians and civil servants to ensure these funds will be able to keep their promise to employees. Ms. Puffer takes over a CN fund that pays out more than $1-billion annually to retirees, and had a $465-million surplus at the end of 2016, when the railway last reported financial results for the pension plan.

Ms. Puffer was a partner for the past four years at Toronto-based Alignvest, which runs private equity funds and hedge funds. Prior to that, her résumé includes stints as the chief investment officer at the $3-billion Nav Canada pension plan. She held executive roles at Pimco Canada Corp. and Legg Mason Investor Services LLC, and the investment banking arms of Royal Bank of Canada and Bank of Montreal. She is also a trustee at the $70-billion Healthcare of Ontario Pension Plan, better known as HOOPP.

Ms. Puffer holds a PhD in finance and started her career as a professor at the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto.

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