Ministry delays decision on Oil Fund investing

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Finance Minister Siv Jensen doesn’t want Norway’s huge sovereign Oil Fund to invest in unlisted shares, but her ministry is still evaluating whether it could invest in so-called “unlisted infrastructure” such as solar energy parks or windmills projects, bridges, airports and hydroelectric plants.

The ruling Conservative Party, with which Jensen’s Progress Party shares government power, opened up for the latter at its annual national meeting last weekend. Newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN) reported on Wednesday that Jensen will now evaluate whether such investments can be made as part of the Oil Fund’s environmental mandate, meaning she’ll probably rule out infracture that doesn’t have a “green” profile. She opposes investment in shares that aren’t listed on any stock exchange, claiming that “would challenge” central elements of the fund’s management model that includes low costs, index-related management and a high degree of openness.

While many promote investment in unlisted infrastructure, others like Espen Henriksen, an assistant professor at the Norwegian Business School BI and the University of California Santa Barbara claims it would reduce wealth creation and make the fund less transparent. “Capital isn’t the problem within environmentally friendly infrastructure, the problem is a lack of profitable projects,” Henriksen told DN. “The Oil Fund should be managed to maximize financial wealth creation.”

The financial policy spokesman for Jensen’s party agreed: “The Oil Fund shouldn’t be used as a foreign policy tool,” said Helge André Njåstad. “The goal is to secure the highest possible returns to secure welfare for today’s and future generations.” A decision is due next year.

newsinenglish.no staff