Norway - Competition from State-Owned EnterprisesNorway - Competition
The government continues to play a strong role in the Norwegian economy through its ownership or control of many of the country's leading commercial firms. The public sector accounts for nearly 60 percent of GDP. The Norwegian government is the largest owner in Norway, with ownership stakes in a range of key sectors (e.g., energy, transportation, finance, and communications). About 70 State Owned Enterprises (SOEs) are managed directly by the relevant ministries, and approximately 35 percent of the stock exchange's capitalization is in government hands. State ownership in companies can be used as a means of ensuring Norwegian ownership and domicile for these firms.
Norway is party to the Government Procurement Agreement (GPA) within the framework of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and a signatory to all relevant annexes. SOEs are thus covered under the agreement.
Norwegian governments have sustained stable levels of strong, transparent, and predictable government ownership. The previous center-left government increased its stake in companies like Statoil ASA, Kongsberg Gruppen AS, and Yara International ASA, but also sold off other holdings. The current center-right government is in a process of reducing ownership stakes.
OECD Guidelines on Corporate Governance of SOEs
Norwegian SOEs observe the OECD Guidelines on Corporate Governance for SOEs.
Sovereign Wealth Funds
Norway’s sovereign wealth fund, the Government Pension Fund Global (GPFG), was established in 1990 and was valued at NOK 7475 billion (USD 975 billion) at year-end 2015. Petroleum revenues are invested in global stocks and bonds, and the current portfolio includes over 9000 companies and approximately 1.3 percent of global stocks. The fund is invested globally across three asset classes. The management mandate requires the fund to be invested widely outside Norway with a target asset allocation of 60 percent equities, 35-40 percent fixed income and up to 5 percent real estate. The fund aims to be invested in most markets, countries and currencies to achieve broad exposure to global economic growth. About 1/3 of the fund’s investments are in the U.S which is its single largest market. The fund has tried to play an active role in its investments and aims at voting in almost all general meetings.
In 2004, Norway adopted ethical guidelines for GPFG investments, which ban investment in companies engaged in various forms of weapons production, environmental degradation, tobacco production, human rights violations, and what it terms “other particularly serious violations of fundamental ethical norms.” The fund adheres to the Santiago Principles and is a member of the IMF-hosted International Working Group on Sovereign Wealth Funds. The fund currently has 66 companies on its exclusion list, 22 of which are U.S. companies. The ethical guidelines also highlight three focus areas in term of sustainability, children’s rights, climate change, and water management.
Norway Economic Development and Investment