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Norway's wealth fund made record returns in Q1

Fund welcomes wave of recent listings by tech unicorns

By Reuters - May 04,2019 - Last updated at May 04,2019

In this photo, taken in Trondheim on October 31, 2008, Norwegian banknotes of different denominations, can be seen (Reuters photo)

OSLO — Norway's $1.1 trillion sovereign wealth fund, the world's largest, made record returns on investment in the first quarter amid a surge in tech stocks. 

Separately, the fund is assessing whether to make an investment in ride-hailing company Uber Technologies Inc., which is planning an initial public offering, its chief executive told Reuters.

The fund earned 738 billion Norwegian kronor ($84.15 billion) for the January-March period, the highest amount it has ever recorded.

When measured in terms of the fund's international currency basket, the return for the quarter stood at 9.1 per cent, beating its benchmark, it added. 

"The first quarter was an exceptionally good quarter," fund CEO Yngve Slyngstad told reporters.

Apple Inc. made the most positive contribution to the return in the first quarter, the fund said in its quarterly report, followed by Microsoft and Amazon.

The investments that made the most negative contributions were pharmaceutical firm AbbVie, bank Swedbank and US consumer services firm CVS Health.


Tech unicorns 


Overall, out of the 10 largest equity holdings in the fund, five of them are US tech companies. The top three equity holdings are Apple, Microsoft and Alphabet.

The fund participated in the initial public offerings of tech firms Lyft and Weimob in the first quarter, and in the present quarter it is examining the listings of two large companies, including that of Uber, Slyngstad said.

The fund has previously said it wished more companies, and particularly tech companies, had sought public listings, enabling the fund to invest in these fast-growing companies.

Slyngstad welcomed the recent wave of public listings by tech firms, but reiterated that they could be seeking listings at an earlier stage so the fund can capture the fruits of their growth.

"This development of these large unicorns coming to the exchanges is something we view positively," Slyngstad said in an interview on the sidelines of a news conference. 

"We are of course pleased that more companies have decided to go to the stock exchanges. We appreciate the transparency and the liquidity of the public markets.

"From our point of view, an earlier listing is better than a later listing."

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