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Thursday Mar 26 2020
By
AFP

Norway's wealth fund loses $125bn this year due to coronavirus

By
AFP
Photo credit: Reuters

Managers of Norway's sovereign wealth fund revealed on Thursday that it had suffered a loss of 1.33 trillion kroner ($125 billion) as markets collapse under the weight of the coronavirus pandemic that has crippled economies around the globe. 

As of March 25, the fund was valued at 10.1 trillion kroner ($949 billion) after registering a negative return of 16% since January. Its share portfolio, which accounts for about two-thirds of its holdings, reported a 23% drop.

"It´s a strange time for society, it´s a strange time for the economy, and it's also a strange time for global financial markets," the outgoing head of the fund, Yngve Slyngstad, told reporters.

The decline does not totally wipe out last year´s gain of 1.69 trillion kroner, he said, while warning that other "major fluctuations" could be expected in the weeks to come.

Slyngstad also noted vast differences between sectors, with oil stocks shedding 45% and the tech sector losing 14%.

Bonds and real estate, which make up the rest of the fund´s portfolio, have posted flat returns since the start of the year.

Norway´s central bank, which oversees the fund, announced Slyngstad´s successor on Thursday. Nicolai Tangen, an investor born in 1966 who founded the private investment fund AKO Capital, is to take over in September.

Norway´s oil revenues are placed in the sovereign wealth fund -- commonly referred to as the "oil fund" but formally known as the Government Pension Fund Global -- which Oslo then taps to balance its budget.

It is one of the biggest investors in the world, with holdings in more than 9,200 companies, or 1.5% of global market capitalisation.