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IPE special report May 2018

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​Norway mulls unlisted infrastructure mandate for oil fund

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  • Office buildings in Oslo, Norway

The Norwegian government may allow the Government Pension Fund Global to invest in unlisted real assets, with a move into infrastructure under consideration.

The country’s Ministry of Finance has asked the fund’s NOK6trn (€699bn) Strategy Council, chaired by the London Business School’s Elroy Dimson, to assess whether it should adjust the current 5% cap on real estate.

Minister of finance Siv Jensen said: “Developing the fund’s investment strategy through better diversification will help to ensure continued robust, long-term management of the fund.”

Even if the Strategy Council decides to recommend that Norges Bank Investment Management (NBIM) be allowed to invest in infrastructure, it is unlikely to commit to any projects in the immediate future.

In a statement, the ministry said its final decision would be presented to Parliament by the spring of 2016.

However, it said that, if exposure to unlisted infrastructure was permitted, it would also allow the fund to grow its exposure to the unlisted renewable energy sector and infrastructure projects in emerging markets.

So far, the fund’s renewable energy mandate has focused on technology facilitating energy saving, rather than solar or wind power, according to NBIM chief executive Yngve Slyngstad.

The ministry added in a statement: “As with all other investments by the fund, such investments will have to be evaluated on the basis of expected returns and risk.”

NBIM is currently restricted to investing in listed renewable energy options and is barred from any unlisted investments.

In a strategy document covering 2014-16, NBIM said earlier this year that it was hoping to establish an infrastructure portfolio.

The Government Pension Fund Global’s asset allocation allows for 60% exposure to equities and 35% exposure to bonds, with the remainder in property.

According to its most recent quarterly report, the fund had 61.4% of assets in equities, 37.3% in fixed income and just 1.3% in property.

To date, the fund struggled to deploy capital into the property mandate but has pledged that, for the three years to 2017, it will invest 1% of the fund’s assets in real estate.

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