Oslo Ruffles Feathers as it Taps Norway’s Oil Fund

This year will prove to be a watershed for the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund as, for the first time in two decades, Norway’s $890bn oil fund will have money taken out by the government in Oslo. The withdrawals so far have been small compared with the size of the fund, which has grown rapidly to become one of the largest investors in the world on the back of surpluses made by Norway’s petroleum industry. But as much as the issue is played down by Norwegian politicians and investment officials, the withdrawals matter as part of a debate about the future of the oil fund and how much risk it is willing to take on during a period when lower interest rates could hit future returns. The government has appointed a committee — including Prof Henriksen — in January to look at whether the oil fund should invest more in equities to chase higher returns as bond yields languish. Its current holdings equate to about 1.3 per cent of every listed company in the world, making it one of the largest global equity investors.

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