Erna Solberg, the leader of Norway’s Conservative Party and current leader in the polls ahead of next month’s general elections, has said that the country’s $740 billion sovereign wealth fund must be reviewed and rearranged in a more competitive model that will boost returns.
Solberg explained to Bloomberg that the current fund structure “might be too big to be handled by just one fund. You could split it either on getting different handlers to compete better, or have different objectives for your investments in different funds. We’re going to explore it, develop and see if it’s a good idea.”
Erna Solberg. (tv2)
The Government Pension Fund Global, the official name for the oil fund, has grown by more than 400% since 2005, and is expected to grow by another 50% by 2020. A slow shift in strategy is taking place that sees the fund focus more on global growth, moving asset allocation from Europe to emerging markets in Asia and South America.
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Norway, Western Europe’s largest oil and gas producer, grows its sovereign wealth fund, the largest in the world, with taxes from oil and gas, ownership of petroleum fields, and dividends from its 67% stake in Statoil. However Solberg states that the structure of the fund has not been revised since its creation in 1996. “We are a party that believes in competition. If you have different bodies running it, you will have a little bit more competition to see who gets the best results.”
No matter what form the new restructuring of the oil fund takes, economists have warned that an over reliance on the fund in the future could lead to trouble as the $450 billion economy begins to show signs of overheating. Norway’s central bank estimates that the GDP, excluding income from offshore industries, will grow by 3% in 2013; far more than the 0.4% that the rest of the EU is expected to contract this year.
Last month Solberg recorded her best poll result, winning 41% of the votes in comparison to the 29.2% won by the current ruling Labour leader Jens Stoltenberg.
By. James Burgess of Oilprice.com