Norges Bank hiring in Shanghai

The world's third largest sovereign wealth fund is adding to its investment capabilities in Asia, starting in Shanghai.

Norges Bank Investment Management, the world's third largest sovereign wealth fund after Abu Dhabi Investment Authority and Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency, is looking to add to its portfolio management team in Shanghai.

First set up in 1990, NBIM is an entity under the Norwegian central bank responsible for the management of three funds with total market value exceeding $300 billion. It runs the Government Pension Fund, the Government Petroleum Insurance Fund and the Norwegian Foreign Exchange Reserves. Prior to opening its Shanghai office in November 2007, the company already had a presence in London, New York and Oslo.

NBIM received approval as a qualified foreign institutional investor (QFII) from the China Securities Regulatory Commission in October 2007 and now runs a fund worth roughly $200 million in China. The Shanghai office is also responsible for maintaining the fund's Asia-Pacific portfolio, which as at end 2008, represented 16.2% of NBIM's equity investments and 5.8% of its fixed-income portfolio.

Now NBIM wants to add an investment manager to head up its global technology, media and telecom, or TMT, portfolio to be based in Shanghai. There are also openings for a new CIO, COO, chief risk officer, as well as chief treasurer in its London and Oslo headquarters.

External managers have done well out of NBIM, even against the backdrop of the financial crisis. In 2008 they were able to source $64.4 million in management fees and $75 million in performance fees from the pension portfolio of the fund. It has also contributed $52.3 million in revenue to custodian and settlement services.

But that might be set to change. Where in the past, investment managers at NBIM were given utmost flexibility to run their portfolios likened to mini hedge funds, after its unfortunate bets in financing the likes of Lehman Brothers and agency MBS securities, the market is expecting that NBIM may revert back to its passive investment style.

However, officially, the fund is still open to suggestions for long-only equity mandates between the $50 million to $250 million range. In Asia, it is interested in equities in Thailand, Greater China, South Korea and India, as well as Japanese small-caps. It says it will not invest in non-listed equities, private equity, non-listed real estate, option strategies, socially responsible investment (SRI) funds, top-down asset allocation funds, balanced portfolios or convertibles.

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