The World's Largest Sovereign Wealth Fund Says It'll Dump Its Russian Assets Over the Ukraine Invasion

Norway says its $1.3 trillion sovereign wealth fund will exit its Russian investments.

By Huileng Tan • Feb 28, 2022

Kay Nietfeld/Getty Images via BI

This story originally appeared on Business Insider

Norway says its massive sovereign wealth fund — the world's largest — will dump its Russian investments after Russia invaded Ukraine.

"We have decided to freeze the fund's investments and have begun a process of selling out" of Russia, Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre told a news conference Sunday, per Reuters.

The Norges Bank Investment Management is the world's largest sovereign wealth fund, according to the data provider Global SWF. At the end of 2021, it held a portfolio of more than 9,000 stocks worth $1.3 trillion, including 47 Russian companies and government bonds, Reuters reported, citing the Norwegian government. The NBIM had 27 billion Norwegian crowns, or about $3 billion, invested in Russian equities at the end of 2021 — equivalent to 0.2% of the fund, it told Insider.

Related: Bitcoin Plummets Below $40,000 as Tensions Between Russia, Ukraine Escalate

"Russia's attack on Ukraine has challenged Europe's security in a way we have not seen since the Second World War," Støre said in a Sunday statement expressing support for Ukraine. "It challenges our norms, our values, and the principles that our democratic society is based on," Støre added, according to a Financial Times translation.

The NBIM said it would freeze the fund's investment in Russia, halting any purchase or sale of assets. "Together with the Ministry of Finance, we will prepare a plan to divest from the Russian market," the sovereign wealth fund told Insider.

Western countries and companies are intensifying their economic isolation of Russia, including the removal of selected banks from the international SWIFT banking system.

The British oil giant BP has said it's dumping its 20% stake in the Russian state-backed oil giant Rosneft. BP's chair, Helge Lund, said Russia's invasion of Ukraine was the "fundamental change" that put an end to the two energy giants' 30-year business partnership, according to a statement.

Norway's decision came just days after the sovereign wealth fund's chief executive, Nicolai Tangen, talked about the difficulties of selling its Russian holdings, the media outlet Borsen reported. The Russian stock market has plunged, with the MOEX Russia Index down 35% this year.

"This is obviously a dilemma, but selling out of a market is not black or white," Tangen told the Danish media outlet, per a Financial Times translation. "The Moscow stock exchange has fallen markedly in recent days, and if we sell our stocks now, Russian oligarchs would be able to buy these on the cheap."

NBIM's most valuable stake in an individual Russian company at the end of 2020 was in the state-owned Sberbank, followed by the energy companies Gazprom and Lukoil, according to Reuters, citing Refinitiv Eikon data.

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