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Norway's sovereign wealth fund gains £140bn in one year - £26,400 for every citizen

Ben Chapman
Restricted car zones and increased spaces for cyclists and pedestrians have helped reduce traffic accidents in Oslo: Getty Images

Norway’s sovereign wealth fund earned a record £140bn, meaning an extra £26,400 for every citizen of the oil-rich nation.

A bumper year saw 19.9 per cent rise in the value of investments held by the fund, taking its total value to more that 10 trillion Norwegian Crowns.

Norway’s fund, set up in 1990 to preserve the nation's oil and gas wealth for future generations, is the biggest sovereign fund in the world, owning around 1.5 per cent of all shares in listed companies.

IThe fund helps pay for generous welfare provision and its total value is now equivalent to £160,000 for each of Norway's 5.3 million people. It hit the 10 trillion-krone landmark in 2019, exactly 50 years since fossil fuels were first discovered beneath Norwegian waters, dramatically altering the nation’s trajectory.

The fund pledged this year to sell its stake in oil and gas exploration firms, although some campaigners say the move does not go far enough. It maintains stakes in Shell, BP and other oil majors.

Chief executive Yngve Slyngstad said on Thursday that the fund welcomed a shift in oil and gas companies towards positive commitments on climate change.

Repsol, Total, Shell and BP are among firms to have pledged in recent months to cut carbon dioxide emissions.

Slyngstad said the fund was not planning to adjust its portfolio in response to the coronavirus which has wiped trillions of dollars off global markets this week.

“We’re a fund with a 30-year horizon that takes it easy when things are turbulent,”

“Of course, we’re still closely monitoring the market fluctuations we’re seeing, and they are considerable these days. But this is a type of risk that’s difficult for us to analyse, and therefore not typically a situation where we go in and act with regards to buying or selling stocks.”