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5 Risks Keeping Sovereign Wealth Funds Up at Night

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#5. Sustained Low Range of Oil Prices

Sustained low prices of oil are affecting the funding input levels of commodity-based sovereign wealth funds. These current fossil fuel prices are economically squeezing countries like Russia, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela and Iran in harmful ways. Economists, pundits, energy CEOs and policymakers are trying to get a grasp on the long-term price of oil. Lao Tzu, a 6th Century BC Chinese Poet, wrote, “Those who have knowledge, don’t predict. Those who predict, don’t have knowledge.”

Commodity-based sovereign funds such as the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA) and Kuwait Investment Authority (KIA), may face increased withdrawals to fund deepening fiscal deficits, while cash infusions have shrunk for wealth funds like Norway’s Government Pension Fund Global. Norges Bank Investment Management (NBIM) CEO Yngve Slyngstad revealed to the public that in the first quarter of 2015, Norway’s sovereign wealth fund received the lowest amount of new capital in 16 years.

In 2014, according to the Sovereign Wealth Fund Transaction Database, Gulf sovereign wealth funds directly invested, not including listed real estate and funds, over US$ 10 billion in real estate.

#4.Competition in Alternatives

Increasingly, sovereign wealth funds and pensions are finding fewer opportunities in alternative assets such as private equity and infrastructure. Governments and large utilities are looking to sell off developed infrastructure to cash in on demand, while global buyout funds are being even more bold, taking companies private at rising prices (thanks to inexpensive financing and dry powder). For example, Barcelona-based Abertis Infraestructuras SA is having an initial public offering for its tower operator unit Cellnex Telecom. Real estate appears to be less risky for now, as more public institutional investors rush to buy up core properties. In 2014, according to the Sovereign Wealth Fund Transaction Database, Gulf sovereign wealth funds directly invested, not including listed real estate and funds, over US$ 10 billion in real estate. Some sovereign wealth funds are taking advantage of rising demand for real estate, especially industrial properties. Singapore’s GIC is near exiting its US$ 1 billion real estate portfolio in Australia.

#3. People Are Getting Older in Developed Markets

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Temasek Rides with Google on Go-Jek

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Singapore’s Temasek Holdings has reportedly joined forces with Google LLC and Chinese on-demand service provider Meituan-Dianping as part of a US$ 1.2 billion fundraising effort for Indonesian ride-hailing startup Go-Jek that has put regional rivals like Uber and Singapore-based Grab on notice.

Screen Shot Go-Jek, January 19, 2018

Although exact figures for individual stakes have so far been kept secret, the new infusion of capital puts Go-Jek, incorporated as PT Aplikasi Karya Anak Bangsa, at a valuation of roughly US$ 4 billion. Samsung Venture Investment Corporation also participated in funding, as well as existing private equity investors KKR & Co. LP and Warburg Pincus LLC.

Google’s direct involvement in Go-Jek’s growth – rather than through its Google Ventures unit – highlights its faith in the latent potential of ride-sharing services – and the tech-enabled consumer services sector as a whole – in Southeast Asia. Home to more than 640 million potential customers, the region was identified as the fastest growing emerging market for e-commerce globally in an industry report published jointly by Google and Temasek last December. According to data compiled by the internet-giant and the Singaporean sovereign wealth fund, ride-sharing in Southeast Asia is expected to grow into a US$ 20.1 billion industry by 2025, compared to US$ 5.1 billion in 2017.

2011 Origin Story

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Temasek Leads Series B Round for Chinese Robo Startup Rokid

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Rokid Corporation Limited, a Chinese robotics startup that specializes in smart devices assisted by artificial intelligence (AI), announced the closing of a Series B extension round through its WeChat account on January 18, 2018. The capital-raising effort was led by Singapore’s Temasek Holdings, with additional contributions from Credit Suisse Group, China Development Bank’s overseas investment arm CDIB Capital International, and existing investor IDG Capital. Although Rokid did not disclose the size or terms of the deal in its announcement, the technology company reportedly secured US$ 100 million in funding.

Founded in 2014 by chief executive Mingming Zhu and chief financial officer Eric Wong, Rokid’s core products consist of its smart speakers, the Rokid Pebble and Alien, as well as the newly debuted Rokid Glass augmented reality spectacles. The company’s most exciting offering, however, is its Full Stack Open Platform, a collaborative effort made in partnership with Alibaba that gives third-party developers backdoor access Rokid’s software suite and hardware integration and will – it hopes – help give its offerings the accessibility and recognition they need to thrive outside its home market of China.

Rokid is particularly keen on bringing its products to the U.S., where it believes it can challenge Google and Amazon’s dominance in the smart home arena. Amazon makes the Amazon Echo, while Google has Google Home.

The Series B

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SWFI First Read, January 19, 2018

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RDIF Portfolio Company PhosAgro Raises Bond Issue

PhosAgro is a portfolio company of the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF). The company price out a US$ 500 million 5.25-year Eurobond issue that has a coupon of 3.949%.

Alison Swonnell Named Global Head of Institutional Marketing at Fidelity International

Alison Swonnell was hired on as Global Head of Institutional Marketing at Fidelity International. She will be based in London and report to Chuch McKenzie, the firm’s global head of institutional clients. Before Fidelity, Swonnell was Director of Fund Operations for LCM Partners, an alternative investment management firm.

NY Governor Cuomo Seeks to Treat Carried Interest as Ordinary Income for State Taxes

On January 18, 2018, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo revealed he had submitted a bill to the New York State Legislature that seeks to treat carried interest as ordinary income rather than capital gains in regard to state taxes. Governor Cuomo in his press release said that the federal carried interest tax provision costs New York roughly US$ 100 million per year.

William Bain – Bain Founder Passes Away

Dated January 18, 2018, William Bain Jr. passed away at his home in Naples, Florida at the age of 80. Bain started at the Boston Consulting Group and left in 1973 to form Boston-based Bain & Co. By 1984, Bain formed Bain Capital alongside a number of colleagues including former 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney. In a statement to the Boston Globe, Romney said, ” It’s hard for me to imagine my life and career without Bill Bain’s mentoring.”

Prostar Capital Gets Controlling Stake in Socar Aurora Fujairah Terminal

Prostar Capital now has a 90% control stake in Socar Aurora Fujairah Terminal FZC by purchasing 100% of the shares of Socar Aurora Terminals S.A. The Prostar Capital entities investing in the asset are Prostar Asia-Pacific Energy Infrastructure Fund and a co-investment fund managed by Prostar Capital for a large U.S. state pension plan. The storage terminals acquired in the Port of Fujairah in the United Arab Emirates.

Socar Aurora Fujairah Terminal FZC is a joint venture between State Oil Company of Azerbaijan Republic (SOCAR), Swiss-based commodity trader AURORA Progress, and the Government of Fujairah.

Prostar Capital started buying the terminal back in 2013 at 18.6%. The private equity firm eventually moved its ownership up to 40% on August 14, 2015.

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