The manager of Norway’s sovereign wealth fund is seeking to take the lead in a class action lawsuit against Silicon Valley Bank (SVB), whose high-profile collapse in March cost the NOK15trn (€1.25trn) investor billions of kroner.

Carine Smith Ihenacho, chief governance and compliance officer of Norges Bank Investment Management (NBIM) – which manages the Government Pension Fund Global (GPFG) – told a conference in Copenhagen this morning that the central bank subsidiary had found legal action against companies it invests in so lucrative that it now wanted to be lead litigator against SVB.

Speaking via video link at at the Pension Fund Governance and Stewardship Conference held at Copenhagen Business School, she said: “We actually do take part in quite a few litigations – usually mostly class actions – but we sometimes also pick out cases where we go directly on our own.

“What we really found is that cost has definitely been outweighed by the gains we got from those litigations,” Smith Ihenacho said.

“Actually so much so that last week I was in New York to recruit a new securities litigation lawyer, and for the first time we have filed a petition where we actually asked to be the lead litigator in a class action against SVB, Silicon Valley Bank. So watch that space,” she said.

The GPFG owned 1% of SVB Financial Group, the owner of SVB, at the end of 2022, with a shareholding worth NOK1.36bn (€114m) – as well as owning NOK1.01bn of the collapsed lender’s corporate bonds, according to data on NBIM’s website. The two exposures amounted to around nearly €200m.

Back in March, NBIM said it had equity and bond investments worth a total of NOK3.2bn (€281m) in SVB as well as Signature Bank and Silvergate – which also went bust in the banking crisis that erupted at that point.

An NBIM spokeswoman told IPE today that the Norwegian investor had no further comments on the level of losses it had incurred on failed US banks.

Smith Ihenacho also revealed at the conference that her department is currently working on guidance for companies it invests in on responsible use of artificial intelligence.

“We are actually working now to develop our 10th and probably last expectation document […] so we are going to publish one around consumer interest, and we will also say something about our expectations about responsible use of AI, artificial intelligence,” she said.

Previous expectation documents issued by NBIM have covered topics such as human capital management, biodiversity and ecosystems, and tax transparency.

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