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Norway parliament to debate next year whether wealth fund can invest in unlisted renewables

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Norway parliament to debate next year whether wealth fund can invest in unlisted renewables
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By Gwladys Fouche

OSLO (Reuters) – Norway’s parliament should discuss next year whether the Nordic country’s $1 trillion (750 billion pounds) sovereign wealth fund should be able to invest in unlisted renewable projects such as solar parks and wind farms, parliament’s finance committee said on Thursday.

Norwegian politicians have been debating whether the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund should invest in a new asset class on top of the existing stocks, bonds and real estate it holds.

While there had been broad support to allow the fund to invest in renewable infrastructure, the country’s minority government had said in March it was too early to present a bill to parliament on the subject, and did not provide a precise timeline.

On Thursday a united finance committee instructed the government to present a bill next year on the topic so parliament could debate and vote on the question, a key lawmaker told Reuters.

“We want to have a better balance between the fund’s return and risk,” said Svein Roald Hansen, the lawmaker who led the committee’s work on the government’s white paper.

The government said in March it was concerned about the political risk of the fund being stuck in a problematic investment it cannot get out of as easily as if it were a listed company.

It also said at the time that, were the fund to be allowed to go into unlisted renewables projects, it should be limited to the fund’s current green investment mandate, which amounted to 75 billion Norwegian crowns (6.9 billion pounds) at end-2017. Green groups say this is too low.

The finance committee did not give a target sum for what he thought would be appropriate but said it should be “significantly higher”, Hansen said.

The fund invests Norway’s revenues from oil and gas production for future generations.

(Editing by Terje Solsvik)

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