Norway’s Government Pension Fund Global (GPFG) made a 6.3% return in the first quarter with tech stocks boosting equity gains, but the sovereign wealth fund nevertheless underperformed its benchmark because of losses on real estate.

When the fund’s manager, Norges Bank Investment Management (NBIM), announced results for January to March this morning, Trond Grande, deputy chief executive officer, said: “Our equity investments had a very strong return in the first quarter, particularly driven by the tech sector.”

The 6.3% overall return for the quarter was equivalent to NOK1.21trn (€103bn), and Nicolai Tangen, NBIM’s CEO, commented on LinkedIn that in absolute terms this had been the “biggest jump in a single quarter ever!”

The GPFG’s value increased to NOK17.72trn at the end of March, according to the interim results announcement. That figure has fallen back somewhat to stand at NOK17.28bn today on NBIM’s homepage.

Norges bank building

NBIM, the fund’s manager, announced a 6.3% overall return for the quarter, equivalent to NOK1.21trn (€103bn)

While equities returned 9.1% in the first quarter, returns on the SWF’s three other asset classes were all negative, according to the results statement, with losses of 0.4% for fixed income; 0.5% for unlisted real estate and 11.4% for the fund’s still relatively small unlisted renewable energy infrastructure investments.

Having made its first investment in unlisted energy infrastructure in April 2021 after being granted permission by the government to add the fourth asset class to its potential investments, the GFPG held NOK16bn of renewable energy infrastructure assets at the end of the first quarter – making up just 0.1% of the fund.

The first quarter loss on these investments comes after a positive return of 13.6% in the last quarter of 2023.

NBIM said the fund’s overall return had been 0.1 percentage point lower than the return on the benchmark index.

“The relative return was good for equity and fixed income investments, but this was offset by weak results from real estate, leading to a negative result overall,” it said.

A weakening of the Norwegian krone during the quarter contributed to an increase in the fund’s value of NOK647bn, NBIM reported, and said the SWF has also received and inflow of NOK96bn in the period.

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