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Supreme Court Ruling on Online Shoppers Sales Tax Could Impact SWF Investing

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In a 5-4 ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that U.S. states could mandate online shoppers to pay sales tax when they make online purchases. This new ruling overturns a ruling from 1992.

Sovereign wealth funds directly invested at least US$ 9 billion in internet-related retail businesses from January 1, 2015 to March 31, 2018, according to SWFI transaction data. This is not counting fund commitments or funds invested. Sovereign funds have been plowing capital into online mega giants such as Amazon and Expedia, while spending big on e-commerce startups in the United States.

“Each year the physical presence rule becomes further removed from economic reality and results in significant revenue losses to the States. These critiques underscore that the physical presence rule, both as first formulated and as applied today, is an incorrect interpretation of the Commerce Clause,” Justice Anthony Kennedy penned in an opinion joined by Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Neil Gorsuch.

“Retailers have been waiting for this day for more than two decades,” the National Retail Federation said in a statement.

Already a number of U.S. states enacted laws mandating online marketplaces to collect sales taxes on behalf of third-party sellers.

The case is South Dakota v. Wayfair, 17-494.

SWFI First Read, September 21, 2018

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U.S. Public Becomes More Aware that Gmail Scans Emails

Alphabet is a major stock holding for sovereign wealth funds and large pensions. Search giant Google is under fire for allowing third-party partners and companies, like Return Path Inc and other advertisers, to share data from Gmail accounts. Many experts and tech observers already knew this, but more people in the public are becoming aware of Google’s practices when it comes to privacy. Google disclosed in a letter to U.S. lawmakers this finding. The Wall Street Journal reported that in some instances, app companies were able to read people’s emails in order to improve their algorithms. In 2017, Google said they would stop scanning all of one’s Gmail messages for the goal of personalized ads.

GPIF Infrastructure Exposure Almost Reached 200 Billion Yen in March 2018

Japan Government Pension Investment Fund’s (GPIF) exposure to infrastructure real estate was 196.8 billion JPY at the end of March 2018. At that period, 57% of the exposure was to the UK, 15% was to Australia, 15% to Sweden, 10% to Spain and 3% to Finland. 21% of GPIF’s infrastructure portfolio was linked to airports versus 27% to ports.

AIMCo-backed sPower Closes $498.7 Million Bond Deal

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Iceland Contemplates a Sovereign Wealth Fund

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The Government of Iceland is looking to possibly form a sovereign wealth fund to stabilize the country from unforeseen shocks to the national economy. The Iceland government released a statement saying, “The state’s contributions to the Fund will be equivalent to new revenues from publicly owned power production companies which are expected to accrue in the coming years.”

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CBRE Global Wins First GPIF Global Real Estate Mandate

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Japan Government Pension Investment Fund (GPIF) awarded its first global real estate mandate by hiring CBRE Global Investment Partners Limited. This is a global core real estate fund-of-funds separate account. Overseeing this mandate as a gatekeeper is Asset Management One Co., Ltd., which is a unit of Mizuho Financial Group. This RFP was launched in April 2017.

CBRE Global Investment Partners is the multi-manager arm of CBRE Global Investors.

In addition, on August 8, 2018, GPIF hired two custodians for short-term investments. These custodians are Trust & Custody Services Bank, Ltd and The Master Trust Bank of Japan, Ltd.

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