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Are Sovereign Funds Correctly Assessing Risk in Their Illiquid Portfolio

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illiquidity premium

Asset-heavy sovereign wealth funds and public pensions are widely recognized for holding a considerable amount of illiquid assets, particularly in private equity and real estate. For example, the California Public Employees’ Retirement System in October 2013, held 20% in private equity and real estate. The California pension goliath is attempting to unwind a portion of these assets and reduce the number of manager relationships. Across the Pacific, Singapore’s GIC has a band average of 25% targeted to private equity and real estate in their policy portfolio. The GIC is also periodically involved in taking hefty stakes in companies via private placement. Higher typical returns coupled with these public investors’ long-term investment horizons, on the surface, seem to make sense. However, there are hidden costs of holding a large illiquid portfolio.

A deadly outcome of a liquidity crunch is a fire sale – a board’s worst nightmare.

Bailout Fund – Ireland’s Experiment

Future unexpected liquidations can be a monstrous cost if the illiquidity premium is not properly priced through various stress tests. A distinct amount of sovereign funds explicitly do not have the types of liabilities pensions’ possess. In times of economic crisis, national governments may call upon sovereign wealth for monetary assistance. For example, during the global financial crisis of 2007, the Irish National Pensions Reserve Fund (NPRF) was used as a policy tool to bailout two noteworthy Irish banks, Allied Irish Banks and the Bank of Ireland. [ Content protected for Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute Standard subscribers only. Please subscribe to view content. ]

Saudi Aramco Contemplates SABIC Stake from PIF

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Oil giant Saudi Aramco is in early discussions on whether to pursue an ownership stake in Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (SABIC) from the Public Investment Fund (PIF). At the moment, Saudi Aramco has no plans to buy publicly-held shares of SABIC. SABIC was founded in 1976 by Saudi royal decree to convert oil by-products into useful chemicals, polymers, and fertilizers.

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SWFI First Read, July 19, 2018

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GIC Eyes Provenance Land

GIC Private Limited is nearing a deal to purchase up to 50% of Provenance Land. Provenance Land owns India’s first Four Seasons hotel.

Eduard van Gelderen Leaves UC Regents for PSP Investments CIO Role

Eduard van Gelderen exited his position as Senior Managing Director at the University of California Regents’ Office of the Chief Investment Officer. His role will not be replaced. He accepted an offer to be Chief Investment Officer of the Public Sector Pension Investment Board (PSP Investments).

PAAMCO Prisma Holdings CEOs to Exit

[ Content protected for Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute Standard subscribers only. Please subscribe to view content. ]

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Google Fined Big Time by EU Regarding Antitrust Violations

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The European Union (EU), through its competition commissioner, levied a €4.34 billion fine against Alphabet Inc., the owner of Google. The fine is over Google having “imposed illegal restrictions on Android device manufacturers and mobile network operators to cement its dominant position in general internet search,” according to the European Commission (EC).

The European Commission is requiring Alphabet to cease from its conduct that it is accused of within 90 days or face penalty payments of up to 5% of the average daily worldwide turnover of Alphabet, Google’s parent company.

Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, said in a press release, “Today, mobile internet makes up more than half of global internet traffic. It has changed the lives of millions of Europeans. Our case is about three types of restrictions that Google has imposed on Android device manufacturers and network operators to ensure that traffic on Android devices goes to the Google search engine. In this way, Google has used Android as a vehicle to cement the dominance of its search engine. These practices have denied rivals the chance to innovate and compete on the merits. They have denied European consumers the benefits of effective competition in the important mobile sphere. This is illegal under EU antitrust rules.”

The EC press release added, “In particular, Google: 1. has required manufacturers to pre-install the Google Search app and browser app (Chrome), as a condition for licensing Google’s app store (the Play Store); 2. made payments to certain large manufacturers and mobile network operators on condition that they exclusively pre-installed the Google Search app on their devices; and 3. has prevented manufacturers wishing to pre-install Google apps from selling even a single smart mobile device running on alternative versions of Android that were not approved by Google (so-called “Android forks”).”

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