GLOBAL - The NOK2trn (€250bn) Norwegian government pension fund is ranked second in research looking specifically at the structure, governance, transparency, accountability and behaviour of 32 sovereign wealth funds (SWF).
In research conducted by US think-tank Peterson Institute for International Economics, entitled A scoreboard for sovereign wealth funds, the Norwegian fund, with 23 points ,was only topped by the NZD13.5bn (€7bn) New Zealand Superannuation fund which achieved 24 out of 25 possible points.
"Norway's SWF does not provide the currency breakdown of its investments, and is not subject to a fully independent audit," Edwin Truman, senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, explained in the report.
Russia's fund for oil revenues, the Stabilization Fund for the Russian Federation, made it to rank 16. No other European fund was included.
The New Zealand and Norwegian funds were the only two state-run funds to get full marks in the category of governance. This included questions on whether the role of the government and of the manager for the fund's investment strategy was clearly established and whether there were guidelines for corporate responsibility as well as ethical guidelines.
Truman added Norway's fund "provides the general public with extensive information on its investment strategy and investment results on a quarterly basis, including month-by-month returns, and annually provides information on its holdings of the bonds and equities of individual countries and corporations".
In an associated research paper entitled Sovereign Wealth Funds: The Need for Greater Transparency and Accountability he notes a "quantum increase in transparency and accountability with respect to the management of sovereign wealth funds and other official holdings of cross-border assets" was needed.
"As the revised US legislation governing the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, which focuses on the role of investments by governments, and the discussion of similar legislation in Germany and elsewhere in Europe illustrate, many governments and their citizens are uncomfortable and suspicious of the role of foreign governments in their large-scale international investments."
Only last week, José Manuel Barroso, president of the European Commission, noted Europe needs to protect itself from investments by entities - including sovereign wealth funds - which do not follow EU standards.