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Pokémon Go Fuels Norway’s “Oil Fund”

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A key Norwegian pension fund that helps power investment into the national oil sector has allegedly earned at least US$148 million (NOK1 billion) from the global Pokémon Go craze.

The sovereign wealth fund officially known as the Government Pension Fund Global (GPFG), but often referred to as the Oil Fund, has a 0.73 percent stake in Nintendo as of December 31, 2015, according to The Local. Assuming the GPFG has maintained that same level ownership in Nintendo, the fund has boosted its coffers this year by nearly US$200 million (NOK1.35 billion) mostly due to the new mobile game sensation.

Dagens Næringsliv believes the GPFG shares in Nintendo are now worth around US$394 million (NOK 2.66 billion).

Established in 1990 and formerly known as the Petroleum Fund of Norway,
the GPFG has the equivalent of US$873.4 billion in its coffers as of the time of this writing. The GPFG is the world’s third-largest institutional investor and receives its financial backing via oil profits as well as taxes on producers.

“The accumulation of capital in the GPFG originates by and large from the conversion of oil and gas resources in the North Sea and Norwegian Sea to financial assets abroad,” according to the Norwegian government. Related: Lunar Drilling: The Resource Race For The Moon Is On

“Petroleum revenues differ from regular government revenues, in that they do not represent income in its traditional sense, but stem from depletion of a non-renewable natural resource”.

The GPFG has enjoyed returns of 2.7 percent and 7.6 percent in 2015 and 2014, respectively. Though the GPFG has expanded its international scope, the fund’s manager, Norges Bank Investment Management, last April divested investment in 52 coal firms worldwide based on new guidleines easing exclusion of companies from that fossil fuel sector.

Furthermore, the Panama Papers leak has led to calls for greater scrutiny of the GPFG, including calls for the fund to drop investments in tax havens and examine the way the fund structures its unlisted real estate investments.

At least twenty million users have downloaded Pokémon Go in the week after it was launched on 6 July. Augmented reality games date back to the 1990s, yet Pokémon Go has become a mainstream success that has led to a high global demand despite not yet launching in Japan, the country were Nintendo is based.

By Erwin Cifuentes for Oilprice.com

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