Norwegian sovereign fund's returns outweigh oil revenue for first time

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Norway’s giant sovereign wealth fund, the Government Pension Fund Global (GPFG), has now made more money from investment returns than from oil revenue.

On a cumulative basis, from 1996 when the fund was established to the end of March 2017, the GPFG’s total investment returns amounted to NOK3.43trn (€374bn) compared to a total inflow of NOK3.37trln, the fund’s manager Norges Bank Investment Management (NBIM) reported.

The inflow figures take account of money the Norwegian government has started withdrawing from the fund since the beginning of last year.

Yngve Slyngstad, NBIM’s chief executive, said: “Measured in Norwegian kroner, this was the third-best quarter in the history of the fund, driven by strong returns on the equity investments.”

The oil fund made a 3.8% return on investments in the first quarter of this year, with equity generating 5.5%, fixed-income investments returning 0.8% and unlisted real estate producing 0.5%.

The fund’s allocation to equities grew by two percentage points between the beginning of January and the end of March, to 64.6% from 62.5%, while the allocation to bonds fell to 32.9% from 34.3%. Real estate fell to 2.5% from 3.2%.

Both the drop in the real estate allocation, and part of the increase in the equities proportion, reflect the decision by NBIM to stop including listed real estate as part of its property reporting from the beginning of 2017, and count these assets as equities instead. Listed real estate amounted to 0.7% of the GPFG’s total assets at the end of 2016.

The krone depreciated against the main currencies during the quarter, and the manager said this increased the value of the fund by NOK82bn, NBIM said.

By the end March, the GPFG’s market value increased to NOK7.87trn from NOK7.51trn at the end of December.


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