Research Methodology

When the Sovereign Wealth Center (SWC) launched in 2012, we focused exclusively on covering a subset of SWFs charged with creating intergenerational equity, namely those funds investing state-owned assets for the benefit of future generations across a broad array of strategies and asset classes. Over time, we expanded our coverage universe to include a wider selection of SWFs focused on a range of institutional mandates, including fiscal stabilization and reserve management, as well as other types of government funds, such as sovereign and state-owned pension funds. Going forward, SWC will continue to expand its scope of coverage of sovereign and government funds.

Since joining forces in October 2015 with the Sovereign Investor Institute — whose members include all types of SWFs, government pension funds, and central bank reserve funds — SWC has continued to respond to the needs of this community of investors and add funds to its overall roster. We now cover a kaleidoscope of state-owned institutions charged with investing their constituents’ wealth at home and abroad. Each of our fund profiles reflects the institution’s source of funding, specific mandate and investment strategy. 

What is Included in SWC’s Database?

The SWC database focuses on sovereign wealth fund (SWF) transactions and contains approximately 4,000 deals representing more than 5,000 transactions by 35 funds. Instead of capturing every individual open-market transaction in listed companies, we consolidate these purchases in cases where a fund is clearly building a stake in a company or asset over a period of time, and exclude those trades that appear to form part of an index-linked strategy. This approach prevents the database from being skewed toward those funds that make frequent open-market transactions in publicly-listed companies. In private markets, we seek to avoid double-counting by only recording the initial capitalization of operating subsidiaries and joint ventures; we do not record any subsequent investments by those entities as separate deals. Our methodology adds value by giving users a more precise view of how sovereign funds invest.

We include Norway’s Government Pension Fund Global’s real estate and pre-IPO investments, for example, but exclude its 1.5 percent ownership of global equities, which would skew the database toward developed-market equities.

For each deal in the database, we include the target, sovereign fund name and deal information.

Primary and Secondary Sources

We ensure comprehensive coverage of transactions and accuracy by following a clear hierarchy of sources:  

  1. Sovereign fund disclosures: These documents include annual reports, press releases and other information contained on the funds’ websites.
  2. Regulatory disclosures: These documents include stock exchange filings for publicly listed companies, regulators, SEC forms, land registries, competition commissions, and bond and IPO prospectuses.
  3. Target and vendor company disclosures: These statements include press releases and other information posted on company websites.
  4. Service provider disclosures: These statements include disclosures by lawyers, investment banks and funders of projects that work with sovereign funds.
  5. Information aggregators: These reports include updates of current deals by newswires (Dow Jones, Reuters, Businesswire, Associated Press and others) and national news agencies (KUNA, Xinhua, WAM and others); numerous well-regarded newspapers (The Wall Street Journal, The Financial Times, The New York Times and others), their regional equivalents (Economic Times, China Daily, The National and others) and the local trade press.

We aim to capture primary sources for every data point and cross-reference these with our third-party databases to ensure accuracy. Where a primary source is unavailable, we collect multiple independent secondary sources that corroborate the transaction.

The database is designed to reflect sovereign funds’ investments and strategies, rather than the composition of their portfolios. As such, it does not include divestment data, which is not disclosed as often as investments, making them harder to track effectively.

Frequency of Reporting

Our team updates the database in real time as new deals and mandates are reported through the information channels listed above. Additionally, the team actively tracks investments via social media, news sources and our network of industry experts. The team undertakes database audits before writing our semi-annual reports.

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