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Transparency Still Remains Elusive for Most Sovereign Wealth Funds

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Jose Filomeno de Sousa dos Santos

This article was contributed by the Fundo Soberano de Angola (FSDEA).

Despite the obvious developments that Sovereign Wealth Funds (SWF) have brought both to the global economy and their home countries, there can be no denying that the term SWF is often met with suspicion and negative attention. There is a plethora of reasons why the growth and significance of SWFs and their influence on global capital markets has attracted these misgivings. This sentiment is certainly understandable in a world still trying to come to terms with the rapid pace of globalisation. However, what is unforgiveable is that much of the negative sentiment directed towards SWFs is entirely of their own making. Despite many notable exceptions and attempts by industry bodies to introduce standards and guidelines, such as the SWFIs Linaburg-Maduell Transparency Index and the IMFs Santiago Principles, many SWFs are still accused of operating with a lack of investment transparency and do not come close to meeting acceptable standards of corporate governance. Unfortunately, the actions of some tarnish the image of all SWFs.

This is a situation that clearly must be addressed for the long-term good of all SWFs; it is not enough for our industry to just sit back and accept this situation as a given. This is why the Fundo Soberano de Angola (FSDEA), the newly launched sovereign wealth fund, wholly owned by the Republic of Angola, pledged at its official launch in Luanda to make transparency the bedrock of its foundation and to strive to set a benchmark for all Sovereign Wealth Funds operating in the region. Whilst the Fund continues to finalise its Investment Strategy and Social Charter, the Board of Directors has understood that it must start to evidence the commitment to transparency for it not to be seen as an empty promise. This is why the Fund has taken the bold step of publishing key disclosure milestones, which it is committed to meeting in 2013 and 2014. The publication of these milestones is just the first stage in the Fund’s absolute commitment to being fully transparent and accountable to the people of Angola and to the social and economic development of the country.

In addition to meeting these disclosure milestones, the Fund is also committed to providing regular updates to international markets on material events, such as major investments, selection of external advisors and other significant developments.

Overseeing all of these commitments to transparency and accountability is a three-member Board of Directors and an independent Advisory Council, which includes: the Minister of Finance; the Minister of Economy; the Minister of Planning and the Governor of the National Bank of Angola. The Fund’s performance will also be regularly assessed by the Angolan government’s Fiscal Council, providing additional independent oversight.

The Fund is fully aware that these steps alone are not going to assuage the concerns of all; however, they are an extremely important part of the process, a process that the FSDEA hopes to lead by example through addressing some of the negative perceptions that the industry faces.

FSDEA DISCLOSURE MILESTONES

  • First quarter 2013 – Publication of the FSDEA Social Charter (the Charter will address a number of key social challenges faced by Angolans)
  • First quarter 2013 – Publication of the Government approved FSDEA Investment Policy
  • Second quarter 2013 – The appointment of internationally recognized independent auditors
  • Third quarter 2013 – The FSDEA mid-year update to include executive commentary on investment activities
  • First quarter 2014 – The FSDEA annual report
  • First quarter 2014 – First Linaburg-Maduell Transparency Index FSDEA rating
  • Third quarter 2014 – The FSDEA mid-year update to include executive commentary on investment activities

NZ Super Names Three New Board Members

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New appointments have been made to the Board of the Guardians of New Zealand Superannuation Fund (NZ Super). The appointments were made on July 19, 2018. The three new board members are Catherine Drayton, Simon Botherway and Henk Berkman.

According to the NZ Super press release, “Simon Botherway’s appointment runs from 1 August 2018 to 30 September 2021. He is a professional director with a history in investment, investment regulation and supervision. Other board roles have included his current position as Chair of Serko, a director on Callaghan Innovation and previously being the Chair of the FMA Establishment Board and a member of the Securities Commission.

Henk Berkman will serve from 1 October 2018 to 30 September 2022. He has been Professor of Finance, Department of Accounting and Finance at the University of Auckland since 2008. Mr Berkman has held previous professorial positions at Massey University, University of Sydney and the University of Maastricht.

Catherine Drayton will serve from 1 November 2018 until 30 September 2022. She is a Christchurch-based director who previously led the Assurance and Advisory Practice for PwC in Central Eastern Europe. Her public sector governance experience includes her current role as Chair of Christchurch International Airport and as a member of the University of Canterbury Council. Her experience as a Director of Ngai Tahu Holdings has provided her with iwi governance experience.”

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AIMCo Names Former Talisman Energy Executive to Board

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The Alberta Investment Management Corporation (AIMCo) appointed Jacqueline (Jackie) Sheppard as a member of the board of directors for a term set to expire on June 30, 2021. [ Content protected for Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute Standard subscribers only. Please subscribe to view content. ]

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Grant & Eisenhofer Reveals Fortis Investors to Receive $1.5 Billion in Mega Settlement

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Law firm Grant & Eisenhofer won a landmark case for its clients after a seven-year legal duel in Dutch courts. On July 13, 2018, the Amsterdam Court of Appeals officially approved the largest securities settlement ever reached in Europe, paving a path for international insurance company Ageas N.V./S.A. to begin payment of US$ 1.5 billion (€1.3 billion) to multiple groups of institutional and individual investors from Europe and the United States. [ Content protected for Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute Standard subscribers only. Please subscribe to view content. ]

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