Norway Boosts Wealth Fund Oversight With New Deputy Governor

  • Egil Matsen is economics professor, sits on bank board
  • Takes up role following debate over tighter fund oversight

Norway named central bank executive board member Egil Matsen as deputy governor in charge of overseeing its $860 billion wealth fund.

Matsen, 46, is a professor at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim. He was appointed to a six-year term for the newly created position. Matsen, who has a PhD from the Norwegian School of Economics, has served as a member of the board that decides monetary policy and oversees the wealth fund since 2012.

“The construction of the fund up to this point has been a success,” Matsen said in a telephone interview, declining to comment on the fund’s strategy until he starts next year. “The management has been good.”

Debate over whether tighter oversight is needed for the fund, which owns 1.3 percent of global stocks, has been swirling since 2014 after a probe into its investment in the Formula One auto racing group. Lawmakers and academics have questioned whether the bank’s monetary policy board have enough investment expertise, insight and time to properly supervise the investor as it expands globally and adds new asset classes.

“Having a person dedicated solely to these matters is reasonable,” Karin Due-Andresen, a senior economist at Svenska Handelsbanken AB, said in a phone interview. “He’ll have to familiarize himself with things he might not know that well from past experience, but he’s a qualified professional and we believe he’ll do a good job.”

Matsen, whose start date has yet to be decided, will take up his new role as the fund explores broadening the assets it invests in. Norway’s government, which sets the mandate, kicked off a process in April that could allow buying infrastructure and increasing its exposure to real estate. It’s limited to buying mainly listed stocks, bonds and property. It can purchase unlisted shares as long as an initial public offering is in the works.

The government, did not provide details on whether it will replace his existing position on the board and expand it to eight members.

“Matsen is an outstanding professional with expertise and knowledge of macroeconomics and finance,” central bank Governor Oeystein Olsen said in an e-mailed comment. “He will be a great asset in the work with the fund.”

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