NORWAY/UK - Norges Bank Investment Management (NBIM) has increased the office space of its London branch to cope with an increase in new employees and to act as a base for the organisation's real estate investment team.

NBIM is responsible for the investment management of the NOK2.120trn (€222.8bn) Norwegian Government Pension Fund - Global, which has a target asset allocation of 60% equities and 40% fixed income.

Following a tender notice posted by Norges Bank, the parent of NBIM, last year for contractors to work on additional office space leased by the London branch, NBIM confirmed it is expanding its London team.

It is unclear how many will be added to the existing 25 permanent employees based in London, out of a total of 217 at the end of 2008, as a spokesman for the organisation pointed out that "we are hiring new people in all investment areas".

He claimed that "this is the main reason why we need more space" - NBIM has extended its lease to both the east and west wing of its floor in a building in Burlington Square - but the spokesman also confirmed "in London we are also setting up the new real estate team".

Although the pension fund currently only invests in equities and fixed income, the Norwegian government confirmed in April 2008 that it intended to allocate 5% of its assets for investment in real estate. (See earlier IPE article: Norway pension fund allocates 5% to real estate)

The government is still finalising the guidelines to allow the pension fund to invest in this asset class, however it started pulling together its real estate team in May 2007 when it appointed Paul Golding, the former head of Merrill Lunch's real estate investment banking business in Europe and the Middle East, as its manager. (See earlier IPE article: NBIM appoints real estate manager)

NBIM stated on its website: "At present, NBIM does not have a mandate to invest in private real estate; however, we have established a team that will be responsible for its future investments in the sector."

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