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SWF and public pension fund assets hit record $31.9trn – report

While emerging markets fall behind overall.
Image: Shutterstock

Assets held by the world’s sovereign wealth and public pension funds rose to a record $31.9 trillion in 2021 thanks to rising U.S. stock and oil prices, and investments rose to their highest for several years, an annual report released on Saturday showed.

The report on state-owned investment vehicles by industry specialist Global SWF found that the assets managed by sovereign wealth funds rose 6% over the year to $10.5 trillion, while those of public pension funds jumped 9% to $21.4 trillion.

The report also found that state-owned investors had deployed more money, both in number of deals and by volume, than in any of the previous six years. Some $215.6 billion was spent, almost half of it by sovereign wealth funds.

Singapore’s GIC sovereign wealth fund topped the league, increasing its dealmaking by 75% to $31.1 billion, spread across 109 deals. Over a third of that capital was invested in real estate, especially logistics.

Overall, emerging markets fell behind, attracting only 23% of the capital this year, one of the lowest figures in the last six years, Diego Lopez at Global SWF wrote in the report.

Venture capital investments make up only a small slice of funds deployed by state-owned vehicles overall, but grew by more than 80% this year to $18.2 billion, with Singapore’s Temasek accounting for more than a quarter.

“The pandemic provoked a seismic change in strategy, with a shift towards sectors that are set to soar amid the change in lifestyles, consumer behaviour, and public needs,” Lopez said, pointing to the healthcare, retail, consumer and technology sectors.

The report said investors would continue watching China closely, especially the crackdown on Chinese technology firms.

“Despite the geopolitical tensions and regulatory concerns, most (state-owned investors) are bullish on Chinese stocks,” it found.

Overall assets were lifted by the launch of four new sovereign wealth funds this year.

Azerbaijan Investment Holdings (AIH) was the most significant one in terms of assets, having received stakes in leading businesses including the national oil company SOCAR.

Bangladesh, Cape Verde and Rio de Janeiro also launched funds, and Israel, Namibia, Bahamas and Mozambique are scheduled to launch SWFs in 2022.

The annual report by Global SWF analysed data from 161 sovereign wealth funds and 275 public pension funds.

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