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GCC sovereign wealth funds astute investors: Tolchard

TRIBUNE NEWS NETWORK DOHA CONTRARY to the view that a majority of Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) sovereign wealth funds put money mainly into “policy supporting” investments and trophy assets, a study has revealed that such investments account for a minor portion of their assets.

According to the second annual Invesco Middle East Asset Management Study, these account for just 5 percent of SWF assets.

Nick Tolchard, Head of Invesco Middle East said: “Around 88 percent of sovereign wealth fund assets are invested for diversification purposes, putting assets in what we would term relatively straight forward balanced, long-term funds.

The main objective is to diversify country’s assets away from oil, preserving wealth for future generations.” The ‘public’ perception of sovereign wealth funds, he said was that they invested heavily in international trophy assets.

But that simply was not the case, he added.

“Looking at the investment behaviour of SWFs, we can see they tend to separate into focused units over time rather than shifting from one to another.

In most cases it is too simplistic to suggest that a whole sovereign wealth fund changes its entire investment objective,” he said.

The analysis behind the Invesco Sovereign Wealth Fund Model also demonstrates that more money is shifting locally in the wake of unrest in the region.

Tolchard said that the current uprisings in Egypt and other Arab countries have driven greater local and regional allocations by some state entities which could justify short-term reclassifications from ‘Diversification Vehicles’ to ‘Development Agencies’.

On the surface this would seem to make sense as a means to placate rising unrest, but in some markets such as Qatar there are possible local inflationary pressures to consider as the local pool of capital increases - though will not be the case everywhere, he added.

Besides, he said that traditional investment SWFs – diversification vehicles and asset managers – appear to be showing a greater shift in their asset allocation towards developed markets.

“In our 2010 study 64 percent of traditional investment, SWFs showed a preference for emerging markets, in contrast to just 25 percent of SWFs and sovereign agencies in 2011.

For an average SWF portfolio, Invesco estimates that 54 percent of GCC SWF assets are now held in developed market investments with the highest exposures to North America (29 percent) and to Western Europe (19 percent).


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