Category: Accounting / Financial
“Where does an 800-pound gorilla sit?” goes the riddle. “Wherever it likes,” is the answer. Norway’s $1 trillion wealth fund risks throwing its weight around in ways that exceed its authority, interfering in the sovereignty of other nations.
This year, the fund has voted against remuneration proposals at more of the companies it holds stakes in, its global head of ownership strategies Carine Smith Ihenacho told my Bloomberg News colleague Mikael Holter in an interview.
That raises a question. Should the investment arm of one sovereign nation be using its financial muscle to influence salary policies in other sovereign nations, setting principles which then guide how it votes in particular examples? No matter how laudable its aims, this seems like a clear case of mission creep.
The fund’s sheer size — it owns about 1.5 percent of every listed company in the world and invests in almost 9,000 companies — gives it clout. But its status as an arm of the government of Norway should make it wary of behaving like just another custodian of assets.
In a position paper published in April, the fund said it would back remuneration policies that are “driven by long-term value creation and aligns CEO and shareholder interests.” Pay packages should be transparent, pension entitlements should be only “a minor part” of total packages, while a “substantial proportion” should be in the form of equity that’s locked in for “at least five and preferably 10 years.”
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