CDPQ makes executive changes following Celsius investment write-off

Crypto winter chill touches more Canadian funds, startups.

The Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ) has seen a shake-up in its C-suite following its $150 million USD write-off in the bankruptcy of crypto lender Celsius Network.

Alexandre Synnett, executive vice-president and CTO at CDPQ, and the executive involved in the CDPQ investment in Celsius left the firm, as reported by The Logic. As per the firm’s recent earnings call, CDPQ CEO Charles Emond noted that Synnett voluntarily resigned.

After Celsius filed for bankruptcy, the CDPQ said that it would explore legal options and will no longer invest in crypto firms.

The resignation and news of two executive changes came ahead of a news release from the fund that the CDPQ, faced with the worst market in 50 years, still managed to cut its losses. Nonetheless, it wasn’t enough to ward off C-suite changes.

Maxime Aucoin moved into a position as executive vice-president, depositors and total portfolio, while it was announced that David Latour will succeed Claude Bergeron as executive vice-president risk management.

CDPQ originally announced its Celsius investment with growth equity firm WestCap of a joint $400 million USD in October 2021. At the time Celsius said the investment gave it a valuation of more than $3 billion USD, and said that it intended to use the money to continue expanding its offerings and products.

Synnett said in the release at the time that blockchain technology has the potential to disrupt several sectors of the traditional economy. “As digital assets grow in adoption, we intend to capture the right opportunities, while working with our partners towards a regulated industry,” Synnett said.

After Celsius filed for bankruptcy in July, the CDPQ said in the summer that it would explore legal options and will no longer invest in crypto firms, according to Reuters.

RELATED: Canadian securities regulators tighten rules for crypto platforms following Voyager, Celsius, FTX collapse

Discussing its 2022 performance, the CDPQ noted the year’s annual performance influenced its five-year annualized return, doing less well than expected.. The pension fund blamed the difference in part “to the portfolio’s low exposure to certain technology giants in the first half of the five-year period, when their stocks soared.”

The CDPQ isn’t the only fund to get caught up in the crypto craze. A number of Canadian companies and the Ontario Teachers Pension Plan (Ontario Teachers) were affected when FTX filed for bankruptcy last November.

Ontario Teachers disclosed its investments in FTX in November, noting it contributed a total of $95 million USD to FTX International and FTX US across two financing rounds in October 2021 and January of this year.

Beyond that, FTX had plans to purchase Calgary-based crypto exchange Bitvo, investments in a number of Canadian companies, as well as ties to others, like WonderFi.

An active investor with a venture capital arm, FTX had also invested in Canadian companies like LayerZero Labs and Delphia, and led a $13.1 million CAD Series A round of Burnaby startup Vybe Network in June.

Feature image courtesy

Charles Mandel

Charles Mandel

Charles Mandel's reporting and writing on technology has appeared in, Canadian Business, Report on Business Magazine, Canada's National Observer, The Globe and Mail, and the National Post, among many others. He lives off-grid in Nova Scotia.

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