Norway Sovereign Wealth Fund to Dump Russian Assets on Ukraine Invasion

  • Norway’s $1.3 trillion sovereign wealth fund will exit its Russian investments on the invasion of Ukraine.
  • The Norges Bank Investment Management is the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund.
  • Norway’s announcement came as western countries step up economic isolation of Russia.

Norway’s massive sovereign wealth fund — the world’s largest — will dump its Russian investments following the invasion of 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 on Sunday, per Reuters.

The Norges Bank Investment Management (NBIM) is the largest sovereign wealth fund in the world, according to data provider Global SWF. At the end of 2021, it held a portfolio of over 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 ($3 billion) invested in Russian equities at the end of 2021 — equivalent to 0.2% of the fund, it told Insider.

“Russia’s attack on Ukraine has challenged Europe’s security in a way we have not seen since the second world war,” said Støre in a Sunday statement expressing support for Ukraine.”It challenges our norms, our values ​​and the principles that our democratic society is based on,” added Støre, according to a Financial Times translation.

The NBIM said it will now 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.

Norway’s announcement comes as western countries and corporates intensify their economic isolation of Russia, including the removal of selected banks from the SWIFT banking system.

British oil major BP is also dumping its 20% stake in Russian state-backed oil giant Rosneft. BP chairman 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 CEO Nicolai Tangen talked about the difficulties of selling its Russian holdings, media outlet Borsen reported. The Russian stock market has plunged, with the MOEX Russia Index down 35% year-to-date.

“This is obviously a dilemma, but selling out of a market is not black-or-white,” Tangen told the Danish media outlet, per a FT 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 state-owned Sberbank, followed by energy companies Gazprom and Lukoil, according to Reuters, citing Refinitiv Eikon data.

The NBIM did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.