SOFAZ deems its activities successful in 2016

Baku, Azerbaijan, Dec. 26

By Maksim Tsurkov – Trend:

Activities of the State Oil Fund of Azerbaijan (SOFAZ) in 2016 can be assessed as successful, SOFAZ head Shahmar Movsumov said in an exclusive interview with Trend.

In the conditions of low oil prices, decrease in state revenues from oil sales and decay in the oil sector, the Fund’s role in supporting Azerbaijan’s financial stability significantly increased, he said.

“In 2016, SOFAZ carried out timely transfers to the state budget and also continued financing important infrastructure and social projects, for example, a project on improvement of social conditions for IDPs, a project on reconstruction of the Samur-Absheron irrigation system and a project on construction of the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway,” Movsumov said.

“In 2016, SOFAZ also financed Azerbaijan’s share in the Southern Gas Corridor projects, as well as the construction of the STAR oil refinery in Turkey. In addition, the Fund continued financing the state program on education abroad,” Movsumov added.

He noted that in late 2015, changes were made to the investment policy of SOFAZ. As a result, the balance of risks and return changed in favor of more profitable financial instruments, which is a part of a long-term process of building a balanced investment portfolio, he added.

“For example, the permitted share of investment in real estate doubled (from 5 to 10 percent). As a result of these changes, this year the share of direct investment in real estate as well as investment via real estate funds increased. In 2016, the purchase of Palazzo Turati office building in Milan was completed. A big amount of investment was put in real estate funds and investment was also put in private equity funds. The portion of funds that can be invested in stocks also increased,” SOFAZ head added.

As of October 1, 2016, the total volume of SOFAZ’s investment portfolio was $33.95 billion, or 94.8 percent of total assets.

SOFAZ was established in 1999 with assets of $271 million.

Based on SOFAZ’s regulations, its funds may be used for construction and reconstruction of strategically important infrastructure facilities, as well as solving important national problems.

The main goals of the State Oil Fund are accumulation of resources and placement of the Fund’s assets abroad in order to minimize the negative effect on the economy, prevention of "Dutch disease", promotion of resource accumulation for future generations, and supporting current social and economic processes in Azerbaijan.

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Follow the author on Twitter: @MaksimTsurkov

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