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11-Year-Low: Awful Oil Milestone for Gulf Sovereign Funds

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Backed by public pension fund capital, private equity money, hedge funds and Wall Street, recent fossil fuel production in the United States has transformed the global energy model, returning some economic power to the West. The story has changed with the force of the American shale revolution. After coming back from a signature climate deal in Paris, United States President Barack Obama reluctantly inked a bill to lift the U.S. export ban on selling oil. The U.S. Senate passed the bill with a vote of 65-33. Democrats were able to get in another 5 years of solar and wind tax credits in the bill. The export ban had its origins when the United States experienced oil shortages, especially during the Carter administration. The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) mentions that the country’s current oil inventories stand at 490.7 million barrels. U.S. oil reserves are at an 85-year high, with refineries running at 92% capacity – the week ending December 11, 2015. To compound the aggressive oversupply issue, OPEC in December reiterated they have no plans to decrease production. In addition, Russian oil production reached a post-Soviet record. Will oil reach US$ 20 a barrel? The price of Brent crude oil fell to an 11-year low, getting stumpy at US$ 36.05 per barrel on December 21st. U.S. West Texas Intermediate futures rolled down to 33 cent to US$ $34.40 a barrel – lowest level since 2009.

Many of these Middle Eastern sovereign funds have been reluctant to tap into sovereign wealth reserves, opting to cut fiscal spending or raise government debt.

The Gulf Reaction

As of December 2015, 56.28% of sovereign wealth assets are derived from oil & gas related funds. [ Content protected for Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute Standard subscribers only. Please subscribe to view content. ]

Funds and Ownership, KKR Partners with Shinhan Financial

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South Korean financial giant Shinhan Financial Group Co., Ltd. reached a preliminary agreement with KKR & Co. to form a series of global buyout funds that could raise up to 5 trillion KRW. KKR and Shinhan signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in Seoul in early October. [ Content protected for Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute Standard subscribers only. Please subscribe to view content. ]

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Norwegian Government Recommends SWF Remains at Central Bank

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There was speculation that Norway Government Pension Fund Global (GPFG) could be managed outside of Norges Bank. The Norwegian government shot down this idea and recommended Norway’s GPFG remain in Norges Bank. This recommendation came in the form of a white paper submitted to the Norwegian Parliament, Stortinget.

Norway’s Minister of Finance Siv Jensen, commented in a press release, “The Government proposes a new and modernised governance structure for Norges Bank. Moving forward, this new structure lays the foundations for the sound management of the central bank and of the GPFG.”

Some Central Bank Recommendations

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Invesco Buys OppenheimerFunds for $5.7 Billion

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Invesco Ltd. signed a deal to acquire OppenheimerFunds, Inc. from Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual). In turn, MassMutual and the OppenheimerFunds employee shareholders will receive a combination of common and preferred equity consideration, and MassMutual will become a significant shareholder in Invesco, with an approximate 15.5% stake. This strategic transaction will bring Invesco’s total assets under management (AUM) to more than US$ 1.2 trillion. The transaction is expected to close in the second quarter of 2019, pending necessary regulatory and other third-party approvals. The transaction gives Invesco access to more third-party distribution platforms.[ Content protected for Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute Standard subscribers only. Please subscribe to view content. ]

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