Norwegian state oil fund posts lowest return to date

Business Materials 25 November 2008 14:28 (UTC +04:00)

Citing the effects of the global financial turmoil, the fund that invests income from Norway's petroleum and gas riches for future pensions on Tuesday reported its lowest return to date, reported dpa.

The return on the fund during third-quarter 2008 fell 7.7 per cent measured in international currency, the central bank that manages the fund said.

The Norwegian Government Pension Fund - Global was worth 2.12 trillion kroner (299 billion dollars) at the end of the third quarter.

During the quarter, 128 billion kroner - mainly from oil and gas revenues - were transferred to the fund, the largest inflow in its history, the bank said.

The markets have been "unusually turbulent" during the third- quarter, Yngve Slyngstad, director at Norges Bank Investment Management, said at a news conference.

Slyngstad said "the fourth quarter was likely to be challenging."

The fund was one of the largest owners of shares in European stock markets, and owned some 1.25 per cent of European equity at the end of the third quarter, he said.

The fund has interests in some 7,000 companies worldwide. Parliament in 2007 approved allowing the fund to increase its mix between between equity and bonds, allowing a 60-per-cent equity holding compared to previously 40 per cent. Currently the fund has some 50 per cent in equity.

The fund was created in 1990 with the task of covering Norway's future health and pension costs through investments outside the Norwegian economy.

The capital is invested in bonds, shares, money market instruments and derivatives.