The world’s largest sovereign wealth fund overcame sluggish markets at the start of last year to deliver a return of 6.9 per cent in 2016.
Norway’s $905bn oil fund was boosted by strong stock markets in the second half of the year with equity investments returning 8.7 per cent. Fixed income returned 4.3 per cent in 2016.
Yngve Slyngstad, chief executive of Norges Bank Investment Management, the manager of the fund, said:
“The return in 2016 was characterised by falling international interest rates in the first half of the year and strong equity markets in the second half. The year began with a downturn in the markets, and uncertainty regarding developments in China.”
The fund had 62.5 per cent of assets invested in equities at the end of the year but is expected this spring to be given permission to increase that to 70 per cent. Fixed income assets accounted for 34.3 per cent and real estate 3.2 per cent.
Norway’s government has proposed making the biggest changes to the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund in decades, increasing its risk by investing about $90bn more in stock markets and cutting the amount of oil money it can use in the budget.
The $900bn oil fund should be able to invest 70 per cent of its assets in equities, up from the current 60 per cent, as the centre-right government backed proposals by both the fund itself and an expert group.
The shift, which needs parliamentary approval, would be significant for global markets as the oil fund on average already owns 1.3 per cent of every listed company. The increase in equities would come at the expense of bonds, as the oil fund, which has an investment horizon of a century or more, tries to increase its returns.
At the same time, the Norwegian government is aiming to reduce the amount of money from the fund Oslo is allowed to use in budgets. Under the so-called spending rule introduced in 2001, the government is allowed to take up to 4 per cent of the fund each year – which is meant to be equivalent to the real return from investments. This would be reduced to a maximum of 3 per cent in the future under the new proposal, as the outlook for returns has fallen.
Less than two weeks after stepping down as U.N. Secretary-General, a move many interpreted as an indication of his intention to run for the Presidency of South Korea, two of Ban Ki-Moon’s relatives have been indicted in the U.S. on charges of bribery. According to the Daily Mail, Ban Ki-Moon’s brother, Ban Ki-sang, and nephew, Joo Hyun “Dennis” Bahn who is a New York real estate broker, have been indicted for an alleged scheme to bribe a Middle Eastern official to use his country’s sovereign wealth fund to purchase a struggling $800 million real estate complex in Vietnam. Joo Hyun Bahn has been arrested in New York City and is expected to appear in court later today according to the office of U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara.
Two relatives of former U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon have been indicted on U.S. charges that they engaged in a scheme to bribe a Middle Eastern official in connection with the attempted $800 million sale of a building complex in Vietnam.
Joo Hyun “Dennis” Bahn, a New York real estate broker who is Ban Ki-Moon’s nephew, and his father Ban Ki-sang, Ban Ki-moon’s brother who was a senior executive at South Korean construction firm Keangnam Enterprises Co Ltd, were charged in an indictment unsealed on Tuesday in Manhattan federal court.
Bahn is in custody and expected to appear in court later on Tuesday, a spokeswoman for Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said. Defense lawyers could not immediately be identified.
One month ago, when we last looked at the Fed’s update of Treasuries held in custody, we noted something troubling: the number dropped sharply, declining by over $17 billion, bringing the total to $2.871 trillion, the lowest amount of Treasuries held by foreigners at the Fed since 2012. One month later, we refresh this chart and find that in the latest weekly update, foreign central banks accelerated their liquidation of US paper held in the Fed’s custody account, which tumbled by $27.5 billion in the past week, the biggest weekly drop since January 2015, pushing the total amount of custodial paper to $2.83 trillion, the lowest since 2012.
Private equity (PE) entities invested $3,602 million across 129 deals during the quarter ended June, as against $4,278 million across 169 transactions in the same period last year, about 16 per cent less.
According to Venture Intelligence, the investment was seven per cent lower than the immediate previous quarter ($3,890 million across 169 transactions). The latest figures take the PE investments in the first six months of 2016 to $7,492 million across 298 transactions — comparable to the first six months of 2015, which had $7,340 million across 370 deals. These figures include venture capital (VC) investments, but exclude PE investments in real estate.
Only six PE investments worth $100 million or more were reported during the second quarter of 2016, compared to 11 such in the same period last year and 12 during the immediate previous quarter.
The largest PE investment announced during the second quarter was Blackstone’s $1.1-billion buyout of the majority stake held by US-based Hewlett Packard Enterprise in information technology services and business process outsourcing entity Mphasis, which triggered an open offer to public shareholders of the target company.
Volkswagen is set to be pushed deeper into crisis after it emerged that the carmaker is facing a record-breaking €40bn (£30bn) legal attack spearheaded by one of the world’s top law firms.
Quinn Emanuel, which has won almost $50bn (£32bn) for clients and represented Google, Sony and Fifa, has been retained by claim funding group Bentham to prepare a case for VW shareholders over the diesel emissions scandal, The Sunday Telegraph can reveal. Bentham has recently backed an action by Tesco shareholders over the retailer’s overstating of profits.
The pair are attempting to assemble a huge class action following what they call “fundamental dishonesty” at the German auto giant, which plunged the carmaker into crisis after it admitted using “defeat devices” to cheat pollution tests.
The admission has been hugely costly for shareholders after it wiped more than €25bn off VW’s stock market value. Recalls and fines worth tens of billions of euros more are also expected.
Now Quinn Emanuel and Bentham are contacting VW’s biggest investors – which include sovereign wealth funds of Qatar and Norway – to ask them to join the claim.
VW has admitted that it fitted “defeat devices” to 11m cars that allowed them to fraudulently pass pollution controls, though the company’s senior management has insisted it was unaware of the practices.