Friday, December 14, 2012

Sovereign Wealth Funds And Global Finance

Since the early 2000s, SWFs from emerging countries like Kuwait, Abu Dhabi, Singapore, China have stopped communicating with the financial sector and the general public with the aim to build an good image among investor and be reliable. Indeed, their rise was alternately seen as a form of threat to the national sovereignty of the host country, due to the lack of transparency and their alleged ambitions to invest in strategic sectors, and as a favorable element international financial stability and an important financing industrialized economies. In total, a consensus seemed to exist to recognize the positive role of these funds.

Until recently when an unexpected event came to trouble: the fund of Abu Dhabi International Petroleum Investment Company (IPIC) has withdrawn capital Barclays Bank selling on June 2 about 11% of the capital of the 16.3% stake. This operation was a surprising, since it was only made seven months before and the fund became the largest shareholder of the British bank, has allowed him to realize a profit of 1.7 billion Euros. At the same time, the action Barclays lost up to 16% during the session. Trying to get some height and to understand the implication of this new element of sovereign wealth funds and global finance as a whole. Few years back. Before the start of the subprime crisis, SWFs have managed to forge an image of stable investors, favoring a long-term horizon and supports conventional investments such as stocks, bonds or hybrid (i.e. convertible bonds). They also seemed to have no requirement to return excess capital.


Traditionally, they carefully avoided all equity investors and majority remained "passive", i.e. the investor not claiming a seat on the board and do not exercise their voting rights. Their public mandate was simply to pay the financial markets of resources from surplus reserves of oil and gas revenues, and even fiscal surpluses. Their assets under management in 2007 were estimated at more than 3000 billion, which are double the financial assets held by hedge funds or hedge funds. The combination of this long-term horizon, these financial ambitions measured, and the passivity of this important financial capacity tended to SWFs investors 'ideal' for the proper functioning of the financial sector. With the onset of the financial crisis, SWFs action took on a new dimension. Their stakes in Western banks have been hailed as rescue actions the global financial system, allowing some observers assert that "sovereign wealth funds play a fundamentally stabilizer in the international financial system and this fact is clearly verified in the current liquidity crisis ".

In total, between summer 2007 and end of 2008, the amount of equity in banks was about a hundred billion. For comparison, the amounts incurred by SWFs in Western financial institutions were valued at about two billion dollars in 2006. It was so relevant and legitimate to ask whether these new commitments, which differed widely patterns found previously, were more an expression of opportunistic strategies that will contribute to saving the international banking system. The episode Barclays has given a strong argument to critics of SWFs. Should this mean to generalize and draw a vitriolic portrait of all these funds, whatever they are? It is simply to make the obvious, funds, sovereign or not, is first of all investors. And like many traditional investors in times of crisis, some have high risks in search of high returns in the short term. Note, however, that the investments of SWFs, like the pronouncements of Warren Buffet or Albert Frère, are perceived as a buy signal from the other operators on the market, automatically assigning goodwill significant target values. By these new practices, SWFs could encourage other players in the market looking for a short-term profitability to do the same and thus unwittingly contribute to the volatility of stock prices.


Since the early 2000s, SWFs from emerging countries like Kuwait, Abu Dhabi, Singapore, China have stopped communicating with the financial sector and the general public with the aim to build an good image among investor and  be reliable.

Indeed, their rise was alternately seen as a form of threat to the national sovereignty of the host country, due to the lack of transparency and their alleged ambitions to invest in strategic sectors, and as a favorable element international financial stability and an important financing industrialized economies. In total, a consensus seemed to exist to recognize the positive role of these funds ... Until recently when an unexpected event came to trouble: the fund of Abu Dhabi International Petroleum Investment Company (IPIC) has withdrawn capital Barclays Bank selling on June 2 about 11% of the capital of the 16.3% stake. This operation was a surprising, since it was only made seven months before and the fund became the largest shareholder of the British bank, has allowed him to realize a profit of 1.7 billion Euros. At the same time, the action Barclays lost up to 16% during the session. Trying to get some height and to understand the implication of this new element of sovereign wealth funds and global finance as a whole.

Few years back. Before the start of the subprime crisis, SWFs have managed to forge an image of stable investors, favoring a long-term horizon and supports conventional investments such as stocks, bonds or hybrid (i.e. convertible bonds). They also seemed to have no requirement to return excess capital. Traditionally, they carefully avoided all equity investors and majority remained "passive", i.e. the investor not claiming a seat on the board and do not exercise their voting rights. Their public mandate was simply to pay the financial markets of resources from surplus reserves of oil and gas revenues, and even fiscal surpluses. Their assets under management in 2007 were estimated at more than 3000 billion, which are double the financial assets held by hedge funds or hedge funds. The combination of this long-term horizon, these financial ambitions measured, and the passivity of this important financial capacity tended to SWFs investors 'ideal' for the proper functioning of the financial sector.

With the onset of the financial crisis, SWFs action took on a new dimension. Their stakes in Western banks have been hailed as rescue actions the global financial system, allowing some observers assert that "sovereign wealth funds play a fundamentally stabilizer in the international financial system and this fact is clearly verified in the current liquidity crisis ". In total, between summer 2007 and end of 2008, the amount of equity in banks was about a hundred billion. For comparison, the amounts incurred by SWFs in Western financial institutions were valued at about two billion dollars in 2006.
It was so relevant and legitimate to ask whether these new commitments, which differed widely patterns found previously, were more an expression of opportunistic strategies that will contribute to saving the international banking system.

The episode Barclays has given a strong argument to critics of SWFs. Should this mean to generalize and draw a vitriolic portrait of all these funds, whatever they are? It is simply to make the obvious, funds, sovereign or not, is first of all investors. And like many traditional investors in times of crisis, some have high risks in search of high returns in the short term.
Note, however, that the investments of SWFs, like the pronouncements of Warren Buffet or Albert Frère, are perceived as a buy signal from the other operators on the market, automatically assigning goodwill significant target values. By these new practices, SWFs could encourage other players in the market looking for a short-term profitability to do the same and thus unwittingly contribute to the volatility of stock prices.

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