Norway Fund Chief Indicates Purchase in Empire State RealtyMikael Holter and Alastair Reed
Norway’s sovereign wealth fund, the world’s largest, indicated it took part in the $929.5 million initial public offering by the Empire State Realty Trust Inc.
The listing of the company, whose properties include Manhattan’s Empire State Building, is an offer that would typically interest the $810 billion fund, according to Yngve Slyngstad, chief executive officer of the wealth fund, which goes under the name of the Government Pension Fund Global.
“In IPOs of this size, it’s fair to assume that we have participated,” he said in an interview in Oslo today. He stopped short of an explicit confirmation, referring to the fund’s policy not to comment on individual investments. A person with direct knowledge of the fund’s transactions said it was among the top 10 stock buyers in the company. The person asked not to be identified because the fund hasn’t published the information.
The wealth fund’s equity, fixed-income and real-estate holdings returned 5 percent in the third quarter thanks to a monetary stimulus-fueled stock rally, it said today. Market gains could reverse and the fund is not currently using its inflow of capital, which it gets from Norway’s oil and gas production, the state’s dividends from Statoil ASA and interest in offshore oil fields, to buy new equity, Slyngstad said.
Shares in the Empire State Realty have jumped 9 percent to since they started trading in New York at the beginning of this month. They rose 0.7 percent to $14.19 as of 10:22 a.m. local time.
While Empire State Realty shares would be classified as an equity investment, Norway’s Oil Fund, as it’s also called, is looking to increase its real estate holdings to 5 percent from today’s 0.9 percent of total investments. After acquiring commercial property in cities such as London and Paris from 2010, it agreed last month to buy a 45 percent share in the Times Square Tower office building in New York for $684 million.
The fund, which is also operating a geographical shift in investments to tap into growth in emerging markets, held 63.6 percent of its holdings in stocks and 35.5 percent in bonds as of the end of last month. It held an average of 1.2 percent of the world’s listed companies at the end of 2012.