GLOBAL – Assets under management of sovereign wealth funds (SWFs) fell by 3% in 2009 to around US$3.8trn but funds are looking to place a greater number of those assets outside their home country, a report by International Financial Services London (IFSL) revealed.
Assets are expected to rise to $5.5trn by the end of 2012, IFSL said.
The trade body said SWFs increasingly eyed foreign markets in 2009, following a "retreat towards domestic markets in the second half of 2008".
IFSL said: "Activity picked up in the second half of 2009 and much of the $50bn
invested during this period was in foreign markets."
China Investment Corporation (CIC) alone - which has $289bn under management and is the fifth largest SWF - invested $15bn internationally in assets such as commodities, private equity and hedge funds.
In particular, a Securities and Exchange Commission filing showed CIC invested $9.6bn in US-listed assets in 2009, with 25% of this money using exchange traded funds to get exposure to US assets. (Global Pensions, February 10, 2009)
The report showed SWFs have shied away from financial services equities with less than a fifth of the total invested in 2009 going to this sector, versus 45% at the beginning of the decade. A larger proportion of funds were allocated to industry, infrastructure or other sectors equities.
Separately, data by State Street Global Advisors (SSgA) revealed SWFs using SSgA's custodian or asset management services increased the number of passive mandates doled out during 2009, at the expense of active mandates.
SSgA said its SWFs clients allocated 11 active mandates in September 2009, down from 15 in December 2008, and the number of passive or enhanced mandates increased from 14 to 16.
SSgA manager, official institutions group Rahul Shah said: "This slight but definite move from an active style towards a more controlled enhanced style or directly to passive investing is in keeping with the generally observed trend in the rest of the asset management industry during the period."
He added: "SWFs have faced increasing scrutiny from both their own domestic stakeholders and the world's media arising from their high-profile investment activities in the last two-to-three years; there is anecdotal evidence that this too has prompted an element of renewed self-analysis."
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