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  1. Sapienza Università di Roma International Banking Lecture Six The Sovereign Wealth Funds (SWFs) Prof. G. Vento

  2. Agenda • Introduction to Sovereign Wealth Funds (SWFs) • Key aspects of SWFs International Banking - Prof. G. Vento

  3. Introduction to the sovereign funds • A sovereign wealth fund (SWF) is a state-owned investment fund composed of financial assets such as stocks, bonds, property, precious metals or other financial instruments. • Sovereign wealth funds invest globally. Some of them have grabbed attention making bad investments in several Wall Street financial firms including Citigroup, Morgan Stanley, and Merrill Lynch. • These firms needed a cash infusion due to losses resulting from mismanagement and the subprime mortgage crisis. International Banking - Prof. G. Vento

  4. Introduction to the sovereign funds • Some sovereign wealth funds are held solely by a central bank, which accumulates the funds in the course of its management of a nation's banking system; this type of fund is usually of major economic and fiscal importance. • Other sovereign wealth funds are simply the state savings which are invested by various entities for the purposes of investment return, and which may not have significant role in fiscal management. International Banking - Prof. G. Vento

  5. Introduction to the sovereign funds • The accumulated funds may have their origin in, or may represent foreign currency deposits, gold, SDRs and International Monetary Fund reserve positions held by central banks and monetary authorities, along with other national assets such as pension investments, oil funds, or other industrial and financial holdings. • These are assets of the sovereign nations which are typically held in domestic and different reserve currencies such as the dollar, euro and yen. • Such investment management entities may be set up as official investment companies, state pension funds, or sovereign oil funds, among others. International Banking - Prof. G. Vento

  6. Introduction to the sovereign funds • There have been attempts to distinguish funds held by sovereign entities from foreign exchange reserves held by central banks. • Sovereign wealth funds can be characterized as maximizing long term return, with foreign exchange reserves serving short term currency stabilization and liquidity management. • Many central banks in recent years possess reserves massively in excess of needs for liquidity or foreign exchange management. Moreover it is widely believed most have diversified hugely into assets other than short term, highly liquid monetary ones, though almost no data is available to back up this assertion. • Some central banks have even begun buying equities, or derivatives of differing ilk (even if fairly safe ones, like Overnight Interest rate swaps). International Banking - Prof. G. Vento

  7. Early SWFs • Sovereign wealth funds have been around for decades but since 2000, the number of sovereign wealth funds have increased dramatically. The first SWF was the Kuwait Investment Authority, a commodity SWF created in 1953 from oil revenues before Kuwait even gained independence from the United Kingdom. According to many estimates, Kuwait's fund is now worth approximately $250 billion. • Another of the first registered SWFs is the Revenue Equalization Reserve Fund of Kiribati. Created in 1956 when the British administration of the Gilbert Islands in Micronesia put a levy on the export of phosphates used in fertilizer, the fund has since then grown to $520m International Banking - Prof. G. Vento

  8. Nature of SWFs • SWFs are typically created when governments have budgetary surpluses and have little or no international debt. This excess liquidity is not always possible or desirable to hold as money or to channel it into consumption immediately. • This is especially the case when a nation depends on raw material exports like oil, copper or diamonds. • SWFs may be created to reduce the volatility of government revenues, to counter the boom-bust cycles' adverse effect on government spending and the national economy, or to build up savings for future generations. • One such fund is the Government Pension Fund of Norway. International Banking - Prof. G. Vento

  9. Purpose of SWFs • Other reasons for creating SWFs may be economical, or strategic, such as war chests for uncertain times. For example, the Kuwait Investment Authority during the Gulf war managed excess reserves above the level needed for currency reserves (although many central banks do that now). • The Government of Singapore Investment Corporation and Temasek Holdings are partially the expression of a desire to bolster Singapore's standing as an international financial centre. • The Korea Investment Corporation has since been similarly managed. International Banking - Prof. G. Vento

  10. The main SWFs International Banking - Prof. G. Vento

  11. Concerns about SWFs • There are several reasons why the growth of sovereign wealth funds is attracting close attention. • As this asset pool continues to expand in size and importance, so does its potential impact on various asset markets. • Some countries worry that foreign investment by SWFs raises national security concerns because the purpose of the investment might be to secure control of strategically-important industries for political rather than financial gain. • These concerns have led the EU to reconsider whether to allow its members to use 'golden shares' to block certain foreign acquisitions.Therefore, this strategy has largely been excluded as a viable option by the EU, for fear it would give rise to a resurgence in international protectionism. International Banking - Prof. G. Vento

  12. Concerns about SWFs • Their inadequate transparency is a concern for investors and regulators. For example, size and source of funds, investment goals, internal checks and balances, disclosure of relationships and holdings in private equity funds. • Many of these concerns have been addressed by the IMF and its Santiago Principles, which set out common standards regarding transparency, independence and governance. • SWFs are not nearly as homogeneous as central banks or public pension funds. • However they do have a number of interesting and unique characteristics in common. These make them a distinct and potentially valuable tool for achieving certain public policy and macroeconomic goals. International Banking - Prof. G. Vento

  13. Latest Developments • On 5 March 2008, a joint sub-committee of the U.S. House Financial Services Committee held a hearing to discuss the role of ‘Foreign Government Investment in the U.S. Economy and Financial Sector’. The hearing was attended by representatives of the U.S. Department of Treasury, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, the Federal Reserve Board, Norway’s Ministry of Finance, Temasek Holdings and the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board. • On August 20, 2008, Germany approved a law that requires parliamentary approval for foreign investments that endanger national interests. Specifically, it will affect acquisitions of more than 25% of a German company's voting shares by non-European investors; but the economics minister, Michael Glos, has pledged that investment reviews would be "extremely rare". The legislation is loosely modelled on a similar one by the U.S. Committee on Foreign Investments. International Banking - Prof. G. Vento

  14. Latest Developments • On September 2-3, 2008, at a summit in Chile, the International Working Group of Sovereign Wealth Funds - consisting of the world's main SWFs - agreed to a voluntary code of conduct first drafted by IMF. They are also considering a standing committee to represent them in international policy debates.The 24 principles in the draft will be made public after being presented to the IMF governing council on October 11, 2008. • Brazilian Government announces creation of its own sovereign fund. A document signed on December 24, 2008, by Brazil's president Luis Inacio Lula da Silva officially introduces the fund (Fundo Soberano Nacional) that should have an initial goal of reaching $20 billion dollars. • The OECD is currently drafting a parallel code of conduct for recipient countries of SWF investments. International Banking - Prof. G. Vento

  15. Size of SWFs • Assets under management of SWFs fell 3% in 2009 to $3.8 trillion. The underlying value of SWFs’ portfolios probably increased by 15% in 2009 if negative positions on equity market investments at the end of the previous year are taken into account. • There was an additional $6.5 trillion held in other sovereign investment vehicles, such as pension reserve funds, development funds and state-owned corporations’ funds and $6.1 trillion in other official foreign exchange reserves. • Countries with SWFs funded by commodities’ exports, primarily oil and gas exports, totalled $2.5 trillion at the end of 2009. Non-commodity SWFs totalled $1.3 trillion and are projected to increase their 34% share of assets in 2009 to 38% by 2012. • Non-commodity SWFs are typically funded by transfer of assets from official foreign exchange reserves, and in some cases from government budget surpluses and privatisation revenue. Asian countries account for the bulk of such funds. International Banking - Prof. G. Vento

  16. Size of SWFs • An important point to note is the SWF to Foreign Reserve Exchange Ratio which shows the proportion a government has invested in investments relative to currency reserves. According to the SWF Institute, most oil producing nations in the gulf have a higher SWF to Foreign Exchange Ratio. International Banking - Prof. G. Vento

  17. The strategies of SWFs • Traditionally, national reserves were used to protect central banks and currencies from crises. • Thus, the reserves used to be invested in high liquid assets. • Recently, some countries having commercial surplus (i.e. China) and oil producers (i.e. Gulf countries) increased dramatically their reserves and are looking for longer-term investments. • This can generate higher returns, but higher risks • Higher portfolio diversification. • Acquisition of technological know how. International Banking - Prof. G. Vento

  18. The origins of SWFs • The overall capitalization of SWFs reached $ 3,900 billion in 2009. • The first operation took place in 1956 and was arranged by the British administration of the Gilbert Islands, which imposes a tax on export of chemical products, which still exist. • An evolution occurred in 1974, when Singapore government created the Temasek Holding, having the goal to manage the state investments. The Temasek – and later the Government of Singapore Investment Corporation – grow exponentially. International Banking - Prof. G. Vento

  19. Operations blocked due to national interests The first operation blocked due to national interest reasons took place in 1987. After the crash of US stock market in October, the privatization of the last 31% wasn’t successful. Thus, the SWF of Kuwait bought confidentially more than 20% of BP shares. The British government considered unacceptable that a foreign country could control such a strategic company. Thus, British Government bought back over 2 billion of the stocks owned by the fund. Chinese SWFs are now considered a threat for some strategic companies. 19 International Banking - Prof. G. Vento

  20. Peculiar Features of SWFs SWFs, if compared to other financial players, manage less amount resources: Banks’ capital is 19 times more; Stock market capitalization is 16 times more; However, the SWFs’ capital is very concentrated, among almost 20 funds! 20 International Banking - Prof. G. Vento

  21. Origin of funds and geographical distribution 21 International Banking - Prof. G. Vento

  22. Expected volumes in the future 22 International Banking - Prof. G. Vento

  23. The Role of SWFs in the subprime crisis In the last 3 years many SWFs rescued Western banks: 23 International Banking - Prof. G. Vento

  24. SWFs: risks for Europe Important companies could be controlled by SWFs in the near future. The European Commission is studying how to regulate SWFs. In February 2008 the EC published “A Common European Approach to SWFs”, which guidelines are based on: Governance (Separation between government and management, clear policy objectives, etc.) Transparency (annual publication of the investment owned, dimension, financial leverage, etc.). Also in US stricter rules have been introduced. 24 International Banking - Prof. G. Vento

  25. Next Lecture : Private banking International Banking - Prof. G. Vento