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Sovereign Wealth Funds: a British and a Norwegian Perspective

The Norwegian Embassy and HM Treasury organised a seminar on Sovereign Wealth Funds on Tuesday 6 May. Over 100 guests from the financial industries, public authorities, embassies and media were present at the seminar, kindly hosted by Bloomberg.

Kitty Ussher, Economic Minister to HM Treasury, confirmed Britain’s open arms towards Sovereign Wealth Funds: Britain is “open and keen to do business”.

Martin Skancke, Director General for Asset Management at the Norwegian Ministry of Finance, said that the main objectives of sovereign wealth funds are legitimate purpose: to save part of the national wealth for the future and improve risk/return ratio on these savings. The Norwegian Pension Fund is a transparent wealth fund with pure financial objectives and a clear division of responsibilities between the government’s role as owner and the NBIM’s (Norges Bank Investment Management’s) role as independent asset manager.

Kitty Ussher said that the transparency and independence of the Norwegian Fund acts to reassure countries it invests in. Indeed, as she pointed out, “a high degree of transparency doesn’t necessarily stop you from getting high returns”.

Both speakers agreed that sovereign wealth funds are important to allow capital exporters to save for future generations while permitting capital importers to decouple investments and domestic savings and improve productivity through productive investments. They both pointed to events in recent months to demonstrate that sovereign wealth funds can contribute to increased stability in financial markets.

Britain is the second largest recipient of investments from the Norwegian Fund and London is the main hub of NBIM’s equity investments.

 

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Martin Skancke, Director General for Asset Management at the Norwegian Ministry of Finance.

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