Quebec is still betting on a fund created by a close friend of the Desmarais

Quebec is still betting on a fund created by a close friend of the Desmarais

UPGRADE DAY

The Quebec government's investment arm is investing $35 million in a fund just launched by a former Power Corporation executive, Le Journal has learned .

“It's 100% independent,” assured Pierre Larochelle when Le Journal asked him if his new $250 million, Idealist Capital, was tied to Power Corporation.

Idealist Capital was founded earlier this year by Pierre Larochelle (pictured), who served as senior management at two Power Corporation subsidiaries, and Steve Robitaille, former vice-president of Bombardier and WSP.

“I did not meet [the Minister of the Economy] Pierre Fitzgibbon for this. I saw it socially once,” explained Pierre Larochelle. 

As a senior executive of Power Energy and Power Sustainable, two subsidiaries of Power Corporation, Mr. Larochelle says he has worked on projects related to climate change, renewable energy and transport electrification. 

Today, Mr. Larochelle, who chairs the boards of Lion Electric and LMPG (Lumenpulse), leads this new fund with Steeve Robitaille, a former partner at the law firm Stikeman Elliott and former vice-president of Bombardier and WSP.

No question of using the money to finance Lion or LMPG, assured Mr. Larochelle. Rather, the goal is to encourage other firms to grow.

Rain of Millions

In Journal, the latter did not want to say how much Investissement Québec (IQ) put into Idealist, but IQ confirmed after having injected $35 million from its own funds.

It is not the first time that IQ has invested in a fund close to the Desmarais family, controlling shareholders of Power Corporation. 

In recent years, IQ and the Caisse de depot et placement du Quebec have invested more than $128 million in funds managed by Power. Last fall, IQ notably bet $35 million on a fund from the firm Sagard, a subsidiary of the Montreal conglomerate.

Yesterday, The Journal asked Power Corporation if it was an investor in the new fund, but our request went unheeded.

Members of the same boards

Note that the big boss of IQ, Guy LeBlanc, has already sat on the board of Lion Electric. For his part, Mr. Fitzgibbon has already been a member of that of Lumenpulse. Finally, the Minister's former agent, Michel Ringuet, currently sits on the boards of both companies.

IQ owns 0.8% of the shares of Lion Electric. In addition, the Ministry of the Economy granted a “forgivable loan” of $50 million to the company in 2021.

Also last year, Le Journal wrote that Investissement Québec was ready to write a check for $90 million to Power Corporation to buy back part of its stake in LMPG. The transaction was however abandoned with the company's decision to cancel its plan to return to the stock market.

Power is the majority shareholder of LMPG. 

Idealist Capital

  • Foundation: 2022
  • First closing: $250 million
  • Founding partners: Pierre Larochelle and Steeve Robitaille
  • Investors: Desjardins Group, Investissement Québec, Fondaction, TD Bank Group and National Bank of Canada
  • Advisory Board: Marc Bédard (Lion Electric), Kim Tokarsky (Taiga Motors), Karim Zaghib (former Hydro-Québec and Investissement Québec)
  • Anticipated return over 10 years: 20% per year

Source: Idealist Capital and Pierre Larochelle

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