Oil fund boss reveals own holdings

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Yngve Slyngstad, the head of Norway’s huge sovereign wealth fund that’s fueled by the state’s oil revenues, has revealed under pressure that he personally holds stakes in 14 companies that the fund invests in as well. Slyngstad disclosed his personal holdings after Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) had reported that he had a bloc of stock in Norwegian Air.

Yngve Slyngstad is charged with investing Norway's oil wealth, and has been investing himself as well. PHOTO: Norges Bank

Yngve Slyngstad is charged with investing Norway’s oil wealth, and has been investing himself as well. PHOTO: Norges Bank

Slyngstad, age 51, confirmed that he owns stock in Norwegian along with Statoil, Telenor, Norsk Hydro, Yara, Cermaq, Orkla, Schibsted, Aker, Norske Skog, Wilh Wilhelmsen, Golar LNG, Royal Caribbean Cruises and Opera Software.

NRK reported that his stake in large Norwegian telecoms firm Telenor was valued at NOK 1.4 million (USD 228,000), while his stake in state oil company Statoil was valued at NOK 884,500.

Several economists have criticized the active personal investing by employees of the oil fund, which invests heavily in stock markets all over the world. The fund was set up in the 1990s to preserve the country’s oil wealth for the benefit of future generations, and is officially referred to as a pension fund.

Slyngstad’s holdings represent no violation of current regulations for oil fund employees, but the extent of them “makes it difficult to think there won’t be any conflicts of interest between the oil fund’s portfolio and his own,” Nils-Henrik M von der Fehr, a professor of economics at the University of Oslo, told NRK. He thinks Norway’s central bank, which administers the oil fund on behalf of the Finance Ministry, should review its rules regarding employee holdings.

One of Norway’s leading anti-corruption experts, Tine Søreide of the University of Bergen, called for more openness around Slyngstad’s holdings, noting that the current size of all his investments should also be revealed.

Hilde Singsaas, communications director for the central bank (Norges Bank), claimed existing regulations were sufficient. “We have comprehensive rules to hinder conflicts of interest,” Singsaas told NRK. “We have clear rules for what employees of the oil fund can invest in. Those who buy and sell shares must report on (the transactions) and their purchases can be stopped if the control division wishes to do so.”

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund