Top marks for Norway’s ‘Oil Fund’

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Norway’s enormous pension fund that’s fueled by oil revenues, the so-called “Oil Fund,” tops a list of international funds ranked in terms of openness, responsibility, transparency and a host of other criteria.

Yngve Slyngstad, who heads Norway's "Oil Fund," had reason to smile when the rankings were announced late last week. PHOTO: Norges Bank Investment Management

The US-based Peterson Institute for International Economics, a prestigious think tank in Washington DC, awarded Statens pensjonsfond utland (the official name of the Oil Fund) 97 out of 100 points when measuring its structure, ownership, responsibility and management.

That put Norway at the top of the list, followed by California’s state pension fund (Calpers), with 95 points, and New Zealand’s Superannuation Fund with 94 points. Next came Canada’s Pension Plan, The Alaska Permanent Fund and the Wyoming Permanent Mineral Trust Fund.

At the bottom of the list was the United Arab Emirates’ Abu Dhabi Investment Authority and the Qatar Investment Authority. In terms of sheer size, Norway’s fund ranks second behind only Abu Dhabi’s fund.

“We’re satisfied that we score so highly, and higher than the last time,” Martin Skancke of the Norwegian Finance Ministry told newspaper Dagens Næringsliv. The finance ministry technically “owns” the fund on behalf of Norwegian citizens, while it’s run by a unit of the central bank (Norges Bank Investment Management), headed by Yngve Slyngstad.

All of Norway’s oil and gas revenues are placed in the fund, with only around 4 percent of it pumped into the state budget. The fund was set up with the goal of stashing away much of Norway’s oil and gas revenue for future generations.

Most the fund’s assets, 60 percent, are invested in the shares of companies traded on international stock exchanges, and the fund is known for pulling out of companies that it deems ethically or socially irresponsible. The fund also invests in real estate, various state bonds and commercial paper.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund
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