Canada Pension Plan looks to raise its bet on China

Where Canada Pension Plan sees real value

China's gradual market liberalization may be good news for Canadian pensioners.

Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB), the country's largest pension fund, currently has 4 percent of its portfolio in the mainland — a figure that president and CEO Mark Machin said is too low for a globally diversified portfolio such as his.

But he plans to increase that share as the world's second-largest economy opens itself up.

"We want to significantly increase our investment here over the long term," he said, explaining that his fund is "substantially" underweight relative to GDP, but not necessarily relative to available market cap.

Last month, the People's Bank of China allowed foreign investors to hedge bond positions in the foreign exchange derivatives market — a move that many strategists deemed significant to overall market reform.

"China is now by many measures the third-biggest bond market in the world at around $7 trillion, so allowing that to be more accessible to capital is yet another aspect of making this a more investable place," Machin told CNBC at the China Development Forum in Beijing.

"We're value investors and we're super long term. We like to say a quarter for us is 25 years, not three months," Machin said. "We don't necessarily need our money back for immediate use, so I think we're seen as relatively friendly capital, and therefore our access is reasonably good here."

Mark Machin, president and chief executive officer of the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB), in Toronto on Nov. 16, 2016.
Cole Burston / Bloomberg / Getty Images

CPPIB is particularly big on Chinese e-commerce and despite the dominance of giants such as Alibaba and Tencent, Machin said he believes the sector remains exciting.

Below those large behemoths is an ecosystem of start-ups, Machin explained: "The ecosystem around these large companies is part of the secret source of innovation in this country...China's been very thoughtful about creating the ingredients of innovation, which is creating more opportunities for all types of companies, whether it's e-commerce or others, to bloom."

As a long-term investor in a fast-changing market, it's key for CPPIB to speedily identify early-stage trends, he continued.

"It now takes very little money to develop a company given the amount of cloud computing can get a company some market for very little money, very very quickly and have a very disruptive impact."

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