Record first-half return for Norway's sovereign fund
Norway’s giant sovereign wealth fund made its largest ever half-year return in the first six months of 2017, according to its latest financial results.
The Government Pension Fund Global (GPFG) made NOK499bn (€53.6bn) in the first half of the year in absolute terms, a figure that its manager Norges Bank Investment Management (NBIM) put down to the fact the fund has grown so large.
Reporting results for the second quarter, NBIM said the fund returned 2.6% or NOK202bn in the second quarter, bringing the return for the first half of the year to 6.5%.
The manager described as the best half-year return in Norwegian kroner terms in the history of the fund.
NBIM said the fund’s market value reached NOK8.02trn at the end of June, up from NOK7.51trn at the end of 2016.
Since the end of the reporting period, however, the fund’s value has decreased to NOK7.71trn, according to the rolling figure on NBIM’s website.
Trond Grande, deputy chief executive at NBIM, said: “The record-high return is primarily due to the fact that the fund has become so large.”
But he warned: “We cannot expect such returns in the future.”
Grande said the stock markets had performed particularly well so far this year.
In the second quarter alone, equity investments returned 3.4%, fixed-income investments returned 1.1% and real estate returned 2.1%.
The results meant NBIM beat its benchmark, generating a total return on investments that was 0.3 percentage points higher than the return on its reference index.
In the second quarter, NOK16bn was withdrawn from the fund by the government, it said.
Over the quarter, Norway’s currency unit appreciated against the main currencies, which had decreased the value of the fund by NOK32bn, the manager said.
At the end of June, the GPFG had 65.1% of assets invested in equities, 32.4% in fixed income and 2.5% in unlisted real estate.
Compared to the end of the first quarter, this means the proportion of equities rose slightly, the fixed-income allocation contracted and the real estate allocation was unchanged.