OSLO (Reuters) – Norway’s sovereign wealth fund, the world’s largest, used the turmoil on global markets in late 2018 to buy equities on the cheap, the fund said on Wednesday.
The fund bought 185 billion crowns ($21.65 billion) worth of equities in the fourth quarter of 2018, even though it lost 485 billion crowns ($56.76 billion) during the year. The stocks amounted to 2.2 percent of its market value at the end of 2018.
The loss gave the $1 trillion fund, whose size is equivalent to $193,000 for every Norwegian man, woman and child, a negative return on investment of 6.1 percent in 2018, down from a positive 13.7 percent in 2017. It lagged its benchmark index by 0.3 percentage point.
“This is the first time that the fund has had a considerable decline in value,” CEO Yngve Slyngstad told a news conference. “The only other time was a slight decline in 2002.”
At the end of 2018, the fund’s biggest equity holdings were in Microsoft (64.7 billion crowns), Apple (62.7 billion), Alphabet (57.6 billion), Amazon (54.8 billion), Nestle (53.9 billion) and Royal Dutch Shell (51.3 billion).
($1 = 8.5455 Norwegian crowns)
Reporting by Gwladys Fouche and Alister Doyle, editing by Terje Solsvik, Larry King