Norges Bank Investment Management (NBIM) has begun a drive to increase its stewardship team in the New York City office – which is one of the four main reasons Carine Smith Ihenacho has upped sticks for a year to live in the Big Apple.

Smith Ihenacho, chief governance and compliance officer at the manager of Norway’s NOK15.8trn (€1.4trn) Government Pension Fund Global (GFPG), announced her temporary move on LinkedIn, posting a photo of herself at a desk in front of a skyscraper-filled view of downtown NYC.

She wrote: “Starting 2024 with a bang and moving to New York for a year. Look forward to working with all my great colleagues in our New York office and being more active in the US market.”

When IPE asked her why she had made the move, Smith Ihenacho said it was mainly four reasons.

Carine Smith Ihenacho at NBIM in New York

Carine Smith Ihenacho at NBIM in New York

“We are building up our stewardship team in NYC, to provide fuller support to PMs based here, and more in-market expertise and presence, to engage with our US portfolio companies,” she said, adding: “With this new initiative, it is good to be close to the team.”

Another reason for moving was “to be more engaged in the stewardship debate in the US – from core governance issues like executive compensation, to our wider sustainability agenda,” she said.

In addition, said Smith Ihenacho, there were colleagues in NYC from other departments for whom she was responsible, such as operational risk and compliance people, and she could follow-up more closely by being physically present.

“Finally, I will represent the fund’s leader group in the New York office.

“With the size of our investments in the US, and the growing NYC office, it is good to have a representative from the fund’s management group on the ground here,” she added.

Asked whether, with almost half of the oil fund’s investments in North America – 48.6% of equities are from the region – she felt it was important to gain more first-hand experience there, she replied: “Absolutely.”

NBIM recently announced it was leading a class action for the first time – joining Sweden’s AP7 as co-lead plaintiff in a US lawsuit aiming to recoup investment losses on the failed Silicon Valley Bank.

Did this and other important US lawsuits also mean Smith Ihenacho was keen to be present?, IPE asked.

“One of the benefits of being in NYC is that I can be closer to our legal team here,” she said.

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