Tuesday, 18 August 2015

IJM and Genting excluded from investments wealth fund due to severe environmental damage

Environmental issues: IJM and Genting have interests in palm oil operations.

Norwegian fund to call off investments on environmental issue

PETALING JAYA: Norway’s US$871bil sovereign wealth fund Norges Bank has excluded IJM Corp Bhd and Genting Bhd from its investments due to risks of “severe environmental damage”.

Two other companies that the fund said it would not invest in are South Korean steelmaker POSCO and Daewoo International Corp, a trading company and listed subsidiary of POSCO.

“Norges Bank has decided to exclude the companies IJM Corp, Genting, POSCO and Daewoo International Corp from the investment universe of the Government Pension Fund Global.

“The companies are excluded based on an assessment of the risk of severe environmental damage,” it said in a statement. Both IJM Corp and Genting have interests in palm oil operations.

According to the fund’s website, it held US$46mil investments in IJM Corp and US$40.8mil in Genting.

The fund also has investments in IJM Land Bhd and Genting Malaysia Bhd.

The world’s top sovereign wealth fund has a range of ethics criteria for excluding firms from its portfolio, including environmental factors, nuclear weapons-making and labour conditions.

A handful of Malaysian companies are also on Norges Bank’s list of “exclusion of companies”, including WTK Holdings Bhd, Ta Ann Holdings Bhd, Lingui Development Bhd and Samling Global Ltd.

Norges has been one of the largest foreign fund investors in Malaysian equities since 2010. As at end-2014, the fund had invested about US$1.66bil in 139 Bursa Malaysia-listed companies. - Starbiz

Norwegian fund Norges allots RM800mil to invest in Malaysian small, mid-cap stocks
The foreign fund has invested about RM1.7bil in 53 Bursa Malaysia-listed companies.

PETALING JAYA: Norwegian fund Norges has allotted RM800mil more to invest in small to mid-cap stocks in Malaysia.

A market source said the foreign fund appointed Eastspring Investments Bhd about a month ago and was investing in general equity, with a preference for the small to mid-cap equity space.

“There are no specific guidelines as to which sector Norges is keen on. It wants to look at good companies and it so happens the local small and mid-cap space is doing well this year,” the source said.

Norges has been one of the largest foreign fund investor in Malaysian equities since 2010.

In April, StarBiz reported that the foreign fund had invested about RM1.7bil in 53 Bursa Malaysia-listed companies, managed by Kenanga Investors Bhd. At the time, the fund was already sitting on a paper gain of some RM600mil, with its entire holdings in Malaysia valued some RM2.3bil. Its performance in Malaysian equities was attributed to the big run-up in many of the small oil and gas companies since last year.

The source added that Norges was still looking for more fund managers to manage its investment in Malaysia. “It has always had this allocation for Malaysia which it had not entirely fulfilled yet. So it is continuously looking for fund managers,” the source said.

PublicInvest Research in its strategy note for the second half of 2014 said smaller-capitalised stocks in Malaysia have had a good run year-to-date, reflected by the FBM Small Cap Index’s 18.6% gain compared with the FBM KLCI’s 0.3% gain and FBM Mid 70 Index’s 1.2% rise.

Eastspring Investments had about US$105bil (RM334.2bil) in assets under management as at March 31.

The asset management house was named Asia’s leading retail fund manager for 2013 in an annual survey by Asia Asset Management.

Norges, also referred to as the Norwegian oil fund, has a market value of 5,038 billion kroner (RM2.73 trillion) as of end-2013.

Norges is managed by Norges Bank Investment Management, the asset management unit of the Norwegian central bank.

As of end-2013, it is invested in 8,000 stocks in 82 countries and owns 1.3% of the world’s listed companies, delivering annual returns of 5.7% since 1998. - By LIZ LEE Starbiz

Norwegian fund nibbling at Malaysian small and mid caps


PETALING JAYA: Norway-based Norges, one of the largest foreign funds investing in Malaysian equities, has been nibbling small to mid cap stocks that offer exciting upside here.

It has taken up small stakes in 53 Bursa Malaysia-listed companies, with total investments of around RM1.7bil, according to a fund manager.

Norges has a market value of 5,038 billion kroner (RM2.73 trillion) as of end-2013.

Norges began investing heavily in the Malaysian market since 2010 and is now sitting on a paper gain of some RM600mil, giving its entire holdings in Malaysia a value of some RM2.3bil.

Among Norges’ investments are a string of mid-sized oil and gas firms such as Alam Maritim Bhd, Daya Bhd, Scomi Energy Services Bhd and Barakah Offshore Petroleum Bhd.

It has even invested in special purpose acquisition companies Sona Petroleum Bhd and Cliq Energy Bhd.

“An investment from Norges is a positive endorsement from an independent party. It shows that the company has fulfilled the international standards of a foreign sovereign fund,” said one fund manager, who tracks Norges’ movements.

In Malaysia, Norges’ appointed fund manager since 2010 has been Kenanga Investors Bhd. Every year since then, sources said that Norges had allocated Kenanga at least RM150mil as it was pleased with its local counterpart’s performance.

Prior to Kenanga Investors, Norges’ appointed fund manager was RHB Investment Bhd.

“Kenanga Investors has been investing in small and mid caps even before the recent run-up in such companies over the last one year. The big run-up in many of the small oil and gas companies has significantly enhanced Norges’ performance here,” said a fund manager familiar with Norges’ strategy.

This indicates that Norges has a lot of interest in the sector, which isn’t surprising considering that Norges itself has gained its funds from the oil and gas revenues of Norway’s state-owned pension fund.

Aside from oil and gas stocks, Norges has also invested in other sectors such as banking and property.

“The reason it has done well is because it identified mid cap investing very early on. While the Employees Providents Fund (EPF) only articulated its interest in investing in mid-sized companies last year, Norges has been doing that for the last 3 to 4 years,” said the source.

Last June, EPF chief executive officer Datuk Shahril Ridza Ridzuan said it was looking at making investments in 40 mid-cap stocks, adding that the fund was already invested in a number of mid-sized companies.

He said the EPF was happy to support companies that fulfilled its investment criteria, which include having ample liquidity, the ability to generate cash flows and dividends, and having good corporate governance practices in place.

Slightly differing from the EPF which oftentimes take substantial stakes, Norges has a policy of not going beyond 3% in any particular stock, sources said.

“Norges is in the business of portfolio management. It isn’t in the business of running companies,” said the source.

Norges, also referred to as the Norwegian oil fund, is managed by Norges Bank Investment Management, the asset management unit of the Norwegian central bank. Norges is mandated to hold 60% in stocks and 35% in bonds, and is aiming to build up a 5% holding in real estate.

As at end-2013, it is invested in 8,000 stocks in 82 countries and owns 1.3% of the world’s listed companies. Between 1998 to 2013, Norges has been delivering annual returns of 5.7%.

 - By LIZ LEE Starbiz

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