The Government Pension Fund of Norway

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The Government Pension Fund of Norway comprises two entirely separate sovereign wealth funds owned by the Government of Norway:

  • The Government Pension Fund – Global (formerly The Government Petroleum Fund)
  • The Government Pension Fund – Norway (formerly The National Insurance Scheme Fund)

The Government Pension Fund – Global[edit]

The Government Pension Fund – Global (Norwegian: Statens pensjonsfond – Utland, SPU) is a fund into which the surplus wealth produced by Norwegian petroleum income is deposited. The fund changed name in January 2006 from its previous name, The Petroleum Fund of Norway. The fund is commonly referred to as The Oil Fund (Norwegian: Oljefondet). As of the valuation in June 2011, it was the largest pension fund in the world, although it is not actually a pension fund as it derives its financial backing from oil profits and not pension contributions. As of December 31st 2013 its total value is NOK 5.038 trillion[1] ($828.9 billion), holding one percent of global equity markets.[2] With 1.78 percent of European stocks,[2] it is said to be the largest stock owner in Europe.[3]

The purpose of the petroleum fund is to invest parts of the large surplus generated by the Norwegian petroleum sector, generated mainly from taxes of companies, but also payment for license to explore as well as the State's Direct Financial Interest and dividends from partly state-owned Statoil. Current revenue from the petroleum sector is estimated to be at its peak period and to decline over the next decades. The Petroleum Fund was established in 1990 after a decision by the country's legislature to counter the effects of the forthcoming decline in income and to smooth out the disruptive effects of highly fluctuating oil prices.

Management and size[edit]

The fund is managed by Norges Bank Investment Management (NBIM), a part of the Norwegian Central Bank on behalf of the Ministry of Finance. It is currently the largest pension fund in Europe and is larger than the California public-employees pension fund (CalPERS), one of the largest public pension funds in the United States. The Norwegian Ministry of Finance forecasts that the fund will reach NOK 4.3 trillion ($717 billion) by the end of 2014 and NOK 6 trillion ($1 trillion) by the end of 2019.[4] In a parliamentary white paper in April 2011 the Norwegian Ministry of Finance forecast that the 2030 value of the fund would be NOK 7.4 trillion ($1.3 trillion). A worst-case scenario for the fund value in 2030 was forecast at NOK 2.7 trillion ($455 billion) and a best case scenario at NOK 19.6 trillion ($3.3 trillion).[5]

Since 1998 the fund has been allowed to invest up to 40 percent of its portfolio in the international stock market. In June 2009, the ministry decided to raise the stock portion to 60 percent. The Norwegian Government planned that up to 5 percent of the fund should be invested in real estate, beginning in 2010.[6] A specific policy for the real estate investments was suggested in a report the Swiss Partners Group wrote for the Norwegian Ministry of Finance.[7]

Norway's sovereign wealth fund is taking steps to become more active in proxy voting.  In the second quarter of 2013, the sovereign fund voted in 6,078 general meetings as well as 239 shareholder proposals on environmental and social issues. Norway’s Government Pension Fund Global (GPFG) has the potential to greatly influence the corporate governance market in Europe – possibly China as well.[8]

Debate[edit]

Due to the large size of the fund relative to the low number of people living in Norway (4.9 million people in 2010[9]), the Petroleum Fund has become a hot political issue, dominated by three main issues:

  • Whether the country should use more of the petroleum revenues for the state budget instead of saving the funds for the future. The main matter of debate is to what degree increased government spending would increase inflation.
  • Whether the high level of exposure (around 60 percent in 2008) to the highly volatile stock market is financially safe. Others claim that the high diversification and extreme long term of the investments will dilute the risk and that the state is losing considerable amounts of money due to the low investment percentage in the stock market.
  • Whether the investment policy of the Petroleum Fund is ethical.

The Ethical Council[edit]

Part of the investment policy debate is related to the discovery of several cases of investment by The Petroleum Fund in highly controversial companies, involved in businesses such as arms production and tobacco. The Petroleum Fund’s Advisory Council on Ethics was established 19 November 2004 by royal decree. Accordingly, the Ministry of Finance issued a new regulation on the management of the Government Petroleum Fund which also includes ethical guidelines.

According to its ethical guidelines, the Norwegian pension fund cannot invest money in companies that directly or indirectly contribute to killing, torture, deprivation of freedom, or other violations of human rights in conflict situations or wars. Contrary to popular belief, the fund is allowed to invest in a number of arms-producing companies, as only some kind of weapons such as nuclear arms, are banned by the ethical guidelines as investment objects.

An investigation by the Norwegian business newspaper Dagens Næringsliv in February 2012 showed that Norway has invested more than $2 billion in 15 technology companies producing technology that can and has been used for either filtering, wiretapping, or surveillance of communication in various countries, among them Iran, Syria, and Burma. Although surveillance tech is not the primary activity of all these 15 companies, they have all had, or still have some kind of connection to such technology. The Ministry of Finance in Norway stated that it would not withdraw investing in these companies, nor would it discuss an eventual exclusion of surveillance industry companies from its investments.

The Ethical Council is headed by Ola Mestad, a Norwegian lawyer who works for the European Centre of Law, who previously worked for the law firm Bahr, where he was specialized in oil-sector issues. The other members are Gro Nystuen, Bente Rathe, Ylva Lindberg, and Dag Olav Hessen.

On 19 January 2010 the Ministry of Finance announced that 17 tobacco companies had been excluded from the fund.[10] The total divestment from these companies was $2 billion (NOK 14.2 billion), making it the largest divestment caused by ethical recommendations in the history of the fund.[11]

Norway's minister of finance Siv Jensen has recommended that the Ethical council should be dismantled. The decision to close down the council is in line with the recommendation from the Strategy Council, appointed by the Ministry of Finance.

Excluded companies[edit]

The following companies have been excluded from the Government Pension Fund of Norway due to activities in breach of the ethical guidelines:[12]

Company HQ Date of exclusion Reason Divestment (USD)
Africa Israel Investments  Israel 24 August 2010 Violation of the Geneva Convention in occupied Palestinian territory by being involved in developing settlements[13] 1.2m
Alliance One International Inc.  USA 19 Jan 2010 Production of tobacco.[10] 0.9m
Alliant Techsystems Inc  USA 30 Jun 2005 Production of components for cluster munitions.[14] N/A [nb 1]
Altria Group Inc.  USA 19 Jan 2010 Production of tobacco.[10] 131m
Barrick Gold Corporation  Canada 30 Jan 2009 Extensive environmental degradation related to the Porgera Gold Mine in Papua New Guinea[15] 245m
BAE Systems Plc.  United Kingdom 11 Oct 2005 Production of nuclear missiles for the French Air Force through the company MBDA.[16] N/A [nb 2]
Boeing Company  USA 11 Oct 2005 Maintenance of ICBMs for the U.S. Air Force.[16] N/A [nb 2]
British American Tobacco BHD  Malaysia 19 Jan 2010 Production of tobacco.[10] 9.4m
British American Tobacco Plc.  United Kingdom 19 Jan 2010 Production of tobacco.[10] 683m
Danya Cebus  Israel 24 August 2010 Violation of the Geneva Convention in occupied Palestinian territory by being involved in developing settlements[13] N/A
European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company EADS N.V.  France
 Germany
 Netherlands
 Spain
30 Jun 2005 Production of nuclear missiles for the French Air Force through the company MBDA[17][nb 3] N/A [nb 1]
Elbit Systems  Israel 3 Sep 2009 Supply of surveillance systems for the Israeli West Bank barrier[18][19][20] 5.0m
Finmeccanica S.p.A.  Italy 11 Oct 2005 Production of nuclear missiles for the French Air Force through the company MBDA.[16] N/A [nb 2]
FMC Corporation  USA 30 Sep 2011 Production of phosphate in the occupied territories of Western Sahara.[21] 52m
Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc.  USA 28 Mar 2006 Serious environmental damage.[22] 17.2m
GenCorp Inc  USA 15 Nov 2007 Production of nuclear weapons.[23] N/A
General Dynamics Corporation  USA 30 Jun 2005 Production of components for cluster munitions.[14] N/A [nb 1]
Grupo Carso SAB de CV  Mexico 15 Feb 2011 Production of tobacco.[24] N/A
Gudang Garam tbk pt  Indonesia 19 Jan 2010 Production of tobacco.[10] 0
Hanwha Corporation  South Korea 15 May 2007 Production of cluster munitions.[23] 1.2m[25]
Honeywell International Inc.  USA 11 Oct 2005 Simulations of nuclear explosions.[16] N/A [nb 2]
Imperial Tobacco Group Plc  United Kingdom 19 Jan 2010 Production of tobacco.[10] 347m
ITC Ltd.  India 19 Jan 2010 Production of tobacco.[10] 48m
Japan Tobacco Inc.  Japan 19 Jan 2010 Production of tobacco.[10] 210m
KT&G Corp.  South Korea 19 Jan 2010 Production of tobacco.[10] 16m
L3 Communications Holdings Inc  USA 30 Jun 2005 Production of components for cluster munitions.[14] N/A [nb 1]
Lockheed Martin Corp  USA 30 Jun 2005 Production of components for cluster munitions.[14] N/A [nb 1]
Lorillard Inc.  USA 19 Jan 2010 Production of tobacco.[10] 42m
Northrop Grumman Corp.  USA 11 Oct 2005 Maintenance of ICBMs for the U.S. Air Force.[16] N/A [nb 2]
Philip Morris Int. Inc.  USA 19 Jan 2010 Production of tobacco.[10] 476m
Philip Morris Cr AS  Czech Republic 19 Jan 2010 Production of tobacco.[10] 2.7m
Poongsan Corporation  South Korea 30 Sep 2006 Production of cluster munition.[26] 1.2m
Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan  Canada 30 Sep 2011 Production of phosphate in the occupied territories of Western Sahara.[21] 274m
Raytheon Company  USA 30 Jun 2005 Production of components for cluster munitions.[14] N/A [nb 1]
Reynolds American Inc.  USA 19 Jan 2010 Production of tobacco.[10] 36m
Rio Tinto Group  United Kingdom 28 Apr 2008 Severe environmental damage[27] 882m
Samling Global Ltd.  Malaysia 23 Aug 2010 "Illegal logging and severe environmental damage"[13] 1.4m
SAFRAN SA  France 11 Oct 2005 Production of nuclear missiles for the French Navy.[16] N/A [nb 2]
Serco Group Plc  United Kingdom 15 Nov 2007 Maintenance of British nuclear weapons through the Atomic Weapons Establishment.[23] N/A
Shikun UVinui  Israel 17 June 2012 Violation of the Geneva Convention in occupied Palestinian territory by being involved in developing settlements[28] 1.4m
Souza Cruz SA  Brazil 19 Jan 2010 Production of tobacco.[10] 7.4m
Singapore Technologies Engineering  Singapore 22 Mar 2002 Production of anti-personnel landmines.[29] N/A
Swedish Match AB  Sweden 19 Jan 2010 Production of tobacco.[10] 75m
Textron Inc  USA 30 Jan 2009 Production of components for cluster munitions.[30] 36m
United Technologies Corp.  USA 11 Oct 2005 Production of engines for ICBMs in the U.S. Air Force.[16] N/A [nb 2]
Universal Corp VA  USA 19 Jan 2010 Production of tobacco.[10] 3m
Vector Group Ltd.  USA 19 Jan 2010 Production of tobacco.[10] 2.1m
Vedanta Resources Plc  UK 28 Aug 2007 Environmental and human rights abuses.[31] 12m
Wal-Mart Stores Inc.  USA 28 Mar 2006 Breach of human rights and labour rights.[22] 372m

The fund does not announce exclusions until it has completed sales of its positions, so as not to affect the share price at the time of the transaction.[32]

Reinstated companies[edit]

Three previously excluded companies have later been reinstated to the fund, because the companies were no longer involved in the activities that led to their exclusion.

Company HQ Date of exclusion Reason Divestment (USD) Date of reinstatement
DRD Gold Limited  South Africa 29 Jan 2007 Serious environmental damage.[33] 0.6m 3 Sep 2009[34][35]
Kerr-McGee Corporation  USA 29 Apr 2005 Petroleum surveying in occupied Western Sahara[36] 54m 30 Jun 2006[37]
Thales SA  France 30 Jun 2005 Production of components for cluster munitions.[14] N/A [nb 1] 3 Sep 2009[34][38]

Companies "under observation"[edit]

As an alternative to full exclusion from the fund, companies may be placed "under observation" in order to help put pressure on the company to improve.

Company HQ Date of warning Reason Shares
Alstom  France 6 Dec 2011 Risk of gross corruption[39] N/A

It has been proposed that one more company, Goldcorp, should be placed under similar observation.[40]

Currency portfolio[edit]

In October 2010 the fund spent 600 million kroner ($136.4 million as of October 2010) daily buying foreign currencies. That figure would be increased to 800 million kroner daily in November.[41] This practice was suspended in January 2011, and on 31 January it was announced that this would also be the case in February.[42]

The Government Pension Fund – Norway[edit]

The Government Pension Fund – Norway (Norwegian: Statens pensjonsfond Norge, SPN) was established by the National Insurance Act (Folketrygdloven) in 1967 under the name National Insurance Scheme Fund (Norwegian: Folketrygdfondet). The name was changed at the same time as the former Petroleum Fund on 1 January 2006. This fund continues to be managed by a separate board and separate government entity still named Folketrygdfondet. The Government Pension Fund – Norway had a value of NOK 106.9 billion at the end of 2006. Unlike the Global division, it is instructed to invest in domestic companies on the stock market, predominantly on Oslo Stock Exchange. Due to this, the Government Pension Fund – Norway is a key stock owner in many large Norwegian companies.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g The total divestment from the seven companies Alliant Techsystems Inc, EADS Co (European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company), General Dynamics Corporation, L3 Communications Holdings Inc, Lockheed Martin Corp, Raytheon Co and Thales SA was approx. $340 million.[14]
  2. ^ a b c d e f g The total divestment from the seven companies BAE Systems Plc, Boeing Co., Finmeccanica S.p.A., Honeywell International Inc., Northrop Grumman Corp., Safran SA and United Technologies Corp was ca. 500m USD.[16]
  3. ^ EADS was initially excluded because it produced cluster munitions components, but the company later stopped such production. The exclusion was upheld due to the company's production of nuclear missiles.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://www.swfinstitute.org/fund-rankings/
  2. ^ a b Government Pension Fund Global Annual Report 2009, Oslo: Norges Bank Investment Management, 2010-03-05, pp. 18–19, ISSN 1891-1323, retrieved 2010-03-08 
  3. ^ Sindre Heyerdahl, E24. "OLJEFONDETS GIGANTTAP PÅ AKTIV FORVALTNING: Mener Gjedrem bløffer om investeringene" (in Norwegian). 
  4. ^ Stortingsmelding 1 (2010–2011): Nasjonalbudsjettet 2011 [The National Budget 2011] (pdf) (in Norwegian). Oslo: Royal Norwegian Ministry of Finance. 2010-10-01. p. 56. Retrieved 2011-04-05. 
  5. ^ Meld. St. 15 (2010–2011): Forvaltningen av Statens pensjonsfond i 2010 117–119 [The Management of the Government Pension Fund 2010] (pdf) (in Norwegian). Oslo: Royal Norwegian Ministry of Finance. 2011-04-08. pp. 117–119. Retrieved 2011-04-09. 
  6. ^ "Stortingsmelding nr. 1 (2009–2010) – Nasjonalbudsjettet 2010" (pdf) (in Norwegian). Oslo: Norwegian Ministry of Finance. 2009-10-09. p. 145. 
  7. ^ "Investment Policy for Real Estate" (pdf). Baar, Switzerland: Partners Group. 2009-09-15. 
  8. ^ "Could Norway’s Sovereign Fund be a Vanguard for Corporate Governance." Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute. August 13, 2013. Retrieved August 21, 2013.
  9. ^ "http://www.ssb.no/english/subjects/02/02/folkendrkv_en/". Statistics Norway. 2010-02-18. 
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r "Tobacco producers excluded from Government Pension Fund Global". The Norwegian Ministry of Finance. 2010-01-19. 
  11. ^ The Ethical Council of The Government Pension Fund of Norway (2009-10-22). "Recommendation October 22nd, 2009". 
  12. ^ Norges Bank. "NBIM Annual Report 2007". 
  13. ^ a b c "Three companies excluded from the Government Pension Fund Global". The Ministry of Finance. 2010-08-23. Retrieved 2010-08-30. 
  14. ^ a b c d e f g Norwegian Ministry of Finance (2005-09-02). "Åtte nye selskaper utelukket fra Petroleumsfondet" (in Norwegian). 
  15. ^ http://www.regjeringen.no/en/dep/fin/Selected-topics/andre/Ethical-Guidelines-for-the-Government-Pension-Fund---Global-/Recommendations-and-Letters-from-the-Advisory-Council-on-Ethics/recommendation-on-the-exclusion-of-the-c-3.html?id=544365
  16. ^ a b c d e f g h Norwegian Ministry of Finance (2006-01-05). "Uttrekk av selskaper fra Statens pensjonsfond – Utland" (in Norwegian). 
  17. ^ The Ethical Council of the Government Pension Fund of Norway (2006-04-18). "Tilrådning 18. april 2006" (in Norwegian). 
  18. ^ Norwegian Ministry of Finance (2009-09-04). "Supplier of surveillance equipment for the separation barrier in the West Bank excluded from the Government Pension Fund – Global". 
  19. ^ Ethical Council of the Government Pension Fund of Norway (2009-09-04). "Recommendation on the exclusion of the company Elbit Systems Ltd". 
  20. ^ Herb Keinon and Yaakov Katz (2009-09-03). "Norway envoy summoned on divestment". Jerusalem Post. 
  21. ^ a b "Statens pensjonsfond utland: To selskaper utelukkes fra fondets investeringsunivers" (in Norwegian). 6 Dec 2011. 
  22. ^ a b Norwegian Ministry of Finance (2006-06-06). "To selskaper – Wal-Mart og Freeport – trekkes ut av Statens pensjonsfond – Utland" (in Norwegian). 
  23. ^ a b c Norwegian Ministry of Finance (2008-01-11). "One producer of cluster munitions and two producers of nuclear weapons excluded from the Government Pension Fund – Global". 
  24. ^ The Council on Ethics (15 Feb 2011). "Til Finansdepartementet" (pdf) (in Norwegian). Norwegian Ministry of Finance. Retrieved 19 August 2012. 
  25. ^ The Council on Ethics (2008-01-11). "Recommendation on exclusion of the companies Rheinmetall AG and Hanwha Corp". 
  26. ^ Norwegian Ministry of Finance (2006-12-06). "Sørkoreansk klasevåpenprodusent utelukket fra Statens pensjonsfond – Utland" (in Norwegian). 
  27. ^ Norwegian Ministry of Finance (2008-09-09). "The Government Pension Fund divests its holdings in mining company". 
  28. ^ http://www.timesofisrael.com/massive-norwegian-state-fund-to-divest-from-israeli-company/
  29. ^ Norwegian Ministry of Finance (2002-03-22). "Petroleumfondets Folkerettsråd – Notat til Finansdepartementet" (in Norwegian). 
  30. ^ http://www.regjeringen.no/en/dep/fin/Selected-topics/andre/Ethical-Guidelines-for-the-Government-Pension-Fund---Global-/Recommendations-and-Letters-from-the-Advisory-Council-on-Ethics/recommendation-on-the-exclusion-of-the-c-2.html?id=544363
  31. ^ Norwegian Ministry of Finance (2007-11-06). "Metals and mining company excluded from the investment universe of the Norwegian Government Pension Fund – Global". 
  32. ^ "Norway's Big Ethical Giant" Vidya Ram, Forbes Magazine, 30 January 2009, http://www.forbes.com/2009/01/30/norway-mining-weapons-markets-equity-0130_markets15.html?partner=yahoobuzz
  33. ^ Norwegian Ministry of Finance (2007-04-11). "Mining company excluded from the investment universe of the Norwegian Government Pension Fund – Global". 
  34. ^ a b Norwegian Ministry of Finance (2009-09-03). "Thales SA and DRD Gold Limited to be reinstated in the Government Pension Fund – Global’s portfolio". 
  35. ^ The Council on Ethics (2009-02-13). "Recommendation to reverse the exclusion of DRD Gold". 
  36. ^ Norwegian Ministry of Finance (2005-06-06). "Første selskap utelukket fra Petroleumsfondet" (in Norwegian). 
  37. ^ Norwegian Ministry of Finance (2006-09-01). "KerrMcGee Corporation tas inn igjen i Statens pensjonsfond – Utland" (in Norwegian). 
  38. ^ The Council on Ethics (2009-02-13). "Recommendation to reverse the exclusion of Thales SA". 
  39. ^ "Statens pensjonsfond utland: Selskap settes til observasjon på grunn av risiko for korrupsjon" (in Norwegian). The Norwegian Ministry of Finance. 6 Dec 2011. 
  40. ^ Kristoffer Rønneberg (20 Feb 2010). "Ønsker "gult kort" for gruveselskap". Aftenposten. Retrieved 20 Feb 2010. 
  41. ^ "Norway c.bank to sell NOK 800 mln daily in Nov". Reuters. 29 October 2010. Retrieved 29 October 2010. 
  42. ^ "Norway fund to refrain from fx buying in Feb". Reuters. 31 January 2011. Retrieved 31 January 2011. 

External links[edit]