Value of Norway’s Sovereign Wealth Fund's Russia investments slashed to one-tenth
The Norwegian Central Bank on Tuesday published the annual report on investments by the Sovereign Wealth Fund, known as the Oil Fund. The fund is valued at more than $1,300 billion, of which about 2/3 are in stocks worldwide.
The fund is built on the surplus revenues of the country’s petroleum sector and is the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund.
Investments in Russia have never been big compared to other markets. Last year, the fund’s values in Moscow listed equities shrunk from about $2,7 billion at the start of the year down to less than $300 million (2,9 billion kroner), the list published by the banks shows.
By December 31, 2022, Norway owned shares in 51 Russian listed companies, of which seven are in the petroleum and energy sector which helps Russia fuel its war economy.
Gazprom tops the list as the Norwegian Oil Fund’s investments in the Russian majority state-owned corporation were worth $74 million. The share of the ownership was 0,87%.
Its subsidiary, Gazprom Neft, has the Norwegian Oil Fund as a small shareholder, with stocks worth $7,8 million by the end of last year. Gazprom Neft is Russia’s third-largest oil producer and operates the only offshore field in the Russian sector of the Barents Sea, the Prirazlomnoye south of Novaya Zemlya.
Lukoil is Russia’s largest private company in terms of revenue. The Norwegians owned 0,87% of the oil producer by December 31 at a market value of $54,5 million.
Other oil companies on the Russian investment list include Bashneft ($1,67 million) and Surgutneftegas ($7,7 million).
Private producer of Liquid Fossil Gas, Novatek, is also on Norway’s portfolio with stocks worth $12 million. Novatek is the operator of the Yamal LNG plant, exporting gas to markets both in Europe and Asia with tankers sailing the Northern Sea Route. Novatek is currently constructing new LNG-production modules for the new Arctic LNG 2 plant on the shores of the Gydan Peninsula in northern Siberia. The modules are partly built in China but made ready at the giant new Kola Yard north of Murmansk.
Among non-petroleum companies with activities in northern Russia with Norwegian owner interests are Severstal and PhosAgro.
The Norwegian Oil Fund is also a shareholder in Sberbank ($53,1 million). The bank has been sanctioned by Norway and the European Union since Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014.
Norwegian Government on February 28, 2022, ordered the Oil Fund to freeze all investments in Russia and prepare a plan for divesting with the goal of totally exiting the Russian stock market.
“This decision is a clear signal to Russia. We strongly condemn the serious violation of international law they are now committing,” Minister of Finance, Trygve Slagsvold Vedum, said 11 months ago.
“It is important for the legitimacy of both Norway and the Fund that we, together with the international community, demonstrate a clear position by withdrawing the Norwegian savings from the Russian market,” the minister made clear.