Massive losses, but no job cuts coming at Norwegian SWF

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Norway's NOK2,275bn sovereign wealth fund is ruling out redundancies in spite of suffering a record loss of 23.3% in 2008 - the equivalent of NOK633bn.

There are currently 217 people working for Norges Bank Investment Management (NBIM) which manages the Government Pension Fund-Global, according to Siv Meisingseth, director of communications in Oslo.

And this doesn't look like changing any time soon. Meisingseth reckons the firm has always been lean, which means there simply isn't any room for job cuts.

At the time of announcing the results, Ynge Slyngstad, executive director of NBIM, said the organisation had been boosting its risk management capacity during 2008 in order to better deal with the current financial market and to ensure a better long-term result.

Slyngstad has agreed to take a pay cut to NOK 3.5m next year, and has forfeited any bonus payouts, which amounted to NOK5.4mn last year.

The heavy losses, will however, mean a change in the short-term strategy. The fund has been reducing the number of external mandates for its fixed-income investments. These now stand at 12 compared to 39 at the beginning of 2008, after so-called active management, which seeks to beat indexes, proved disappointing.

New capital into the fund was at a record-high, amid the crude oil rally, and NOK348bn was entirely invested in equities. Some 40% of the entire of the equity portfolio at the end of 2008 was bought during the course of the year. The fund invested 49.6% of assets in global equities.

The historic losses at the fund have wiped out the gains of previous years, but is sticking to its long-term strategy, including increasing its strategic equity stake to 60% from 40% in 2007, because investments are made on the basis of what's best for the fund in the long run.

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