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In a tough year for markets, the Investment Management Corporation of Ontario (IMCO) didn’t avoid negative returns but it did beat its benchmark, the public-sector investment manager said in a release on Thursday.

The weighted-average net return of its clients’ portfolios was –8.1% in 2022, compared to a consolidated benchmark return of –8.4%, the release said. In 2021, those figures were 9.6% and 8.5%, respectively.

Clients’ returns in 2022 ranged from –9.1% to 1.6%, the release said.

IMCO noted that pension funds with higher allocations to private assets typically posted higher returns last year.

“We continue to help many of our clients increase their allocations to private assets and to leverage their longer investment time horizon, as well as our strategic relationships and direct investment capabilities,” Bert Clark, IMCO president and CEO, said in the release.

The asset manager closed 12 private equity direct and co-investments in the year totalling more than $500 million, and committed more than $2 billion to strategic partners.

IMCO also increased allocation to private credit and non-investment-grade debt, among other transactions.

The investment manager’s three-year annualized return was 2%, compared to a consolidated benchmark return of 1.6%.

At the end of 2022, assets under management were $73.3 billion, the release said, down from $79 billion a year earlier.