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The World’s Biggest Sovereign Wealth Fund Hits The Brake On Real Estate Deals

Norges Bank Investment Management

Norway’s $1 trillion (£775B) sovereign wealth fund has cut its allocation to real estate and disbanded its specialist real estate division.

Norges Bank Investment Management said last week that it had cut its target allocation from 7% to 3% to 5%, with that allocation including shares in listed real estate companies. It has 2.7% of its assets in direct real estate, which combined with its holdings in big listed companies around the world means it has already crossed the 3% mark. That means the pace of new acquisitions is likely to slow, though Norges said it won’t end new deals altogether. That 2.7% equates to around $25B.

The move, first reported by Bloomberg, essentially comes down to three things: cost, simplicity and timing. Norges Bank has said it wants to reduce the cost of running its portfolio, and real estate is undoubtedly an expensive part of the business — it accounts for 130 of the fund’s 570 staff, Bloomberg said.

“The strategy is to be simple, with emphasis on cost-efficiency,” Norges Bank said. “Therefore, the real estate organisation will be integrated with our management organisation, NBIM. There will still be enough flexibility to be able to exploit investment opportunities in the unlisted real estate market.”

In an interview with Bloomberg last year, Norges Bank Chief Executive Yngve Slyngstad said the fund had found scaling up in real estate difficult because of the record high prices in the global gateway cities it targets.

Any slowdown in new investment from Norges Bank takes one of the obvious buyers of trophy assets out of the market in cities like New York, London, Tokyo and Paris. In London it has been one of the biggest buyers in the market since the Brexit vote, having spent £1.2B on new assets, according to Real Capital Analytics.