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Norway wealth fund grows to record 10t crowns
[OSLO] The value of Norway's sovereign wealth fund, the world's largest, grew to a record 10 trillion Norwegian crowns (S$1.48 trillion) on Friday, boosted by rising global stocks and the strength of the euro and dollar.
The fund reached the milestone as its government regulators grapple with strategy changes, including how to handle climate risk and a proposed large-scale shift of investments into the United States.
Built since 1996 to save petroleum revenues for future generations, the size of the fund has grown to almost three times that of Norway's annual gross domestic product, far exceeding original projections.
"When the fund was set up, nobody thought it would pass 10,000 billion crowns. We were lucky to discover oil," the fund's chief executive, Yngve Slyngstad, said in a statement confirming the record.
"The return on the investments in global financial markets has been so high that it can be compared to having discovered oil again," he said.
An update on the fund's website showed the Government Pension Fund Global's value reaching 10 trillion Norwegian crowns for the first time at 0857 GMT - more than US$200,000 for every man, woman and child in Norway.
Commonly known as the oil fund and managed by a unit of the central bank, it invests close to 70 per cent of funds in global equities and some 28 per cent in a portfolio of fixed-income assets. Unlisted real estate holdings make up the rest.
On Aug 27, the central bank proposed a shift that could ultimately move more than US$100 billion out of European stock markets and into the United States, although such a move, if approved, could take years to complete.
The US$750 billion equities portfolio has historically been heavily weighted towards Europe, aligning its fortunes with countries from which Norway draws most of its imports.
A move away from Europe would not be a verdict on the continent's prospects, the fund insists, but would reflect a desire to apply neutral weights to global stock markets and thus make returns less dependent on a particular region.