The Sovereign Wealth Center database contains over 3,700 deals representing approximately 4,000 transactions by more than 35 funds, dating back to the 1960s. Instead of capturing every individual open-market transaction in listed companies, however, we consolidate these purchases in cases where a sovereign wealth fund is building a strategic stake, and exclude those that appear to form part of an index-linked strategy. This approach prevents the database from being skewed toward those sovereign wealth funds that make frequent open-market transactions in publicly listed companies, particularly in markets with stricter reporting requirements.
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 strategic view of how sovereign wealth 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 towards developed-market equities.
For each deal in the database, we include the target, SWF and deal information. The following table shows the data points recorded for each type of information. The rest of this page describes these data points in more detail.
||Data Recorded for Each Investment |
||Target Type |
Target Category ( Direct or Asset Manager)
||Announced Date |
Deal Value (US$)
Deal Value (reported currency)
Stake Owned (after transaction)
Initial Investment (Y/N)
Number of Shares
Denotes whether the data point is a direct investment or an allocation to an asset manager.
Denotes the target’s broad asset class. Categories differ depending on whether the transaction is a direct investment or an asset manager commitment.
Direct Investment Categories
There are four categories of direct investments in our database:
- Joint Venture (Note: When two or more SWFs invest in a joint venture, each SWF’s contribution receives its own entry and is identified in the database as a joint venture to prevent double counting. When the value of each partner’s contribution is not disclosed, the total value is divided equally between partners.)
- Privately Held
- Publicly Listed
- Real Estate
In our data, we aim to identify SWFs’ strategic investments. Therefore, when a SWF builds a stake through several open market transactions, we amalgamate these and record them as a single investment. In such cases, the details of the investments are recorded in the transactions notes.
The database does not include transactions by wholly owned subsidiaries of SWFs that generate their own income through commerce. We record these subsidiaries’ formation and capitalization, but not any merger or acquisition that might be undertaken for a commercial purpose using SWF-generated funds. Likewise, in joint ventures we record the investment at formation, not any subsequent investments made by the joint venture, which might result in double counting.
Most SWFs mandate at least some of their assets to external asset managers, which undertake investments on their behalf. In such cases, our database records only the initial allocation to asset managers. However, it records subsequent commitments to other funds with the same general partner or manager.
Subsequent increases in stakes are recorded in the notes that accompany the original transaction, when this information is disclosed.
We categorize asset managers according to the following classes.
- Fixed Income
- Hedge Funds
- Private Equity
- Real Estate
- Transition Managers
- Venture Capital
The aim of these sections in the database is to reflect the geography to which SWFs are trying to get exposure. The same geographies are used to locate the SWFs.
The Sovereign Wealth Center’s database records the country in which the target company primarily operates, if disclosed. The target country is not necessarily the same as the company’s headquarters or where it is listed.
If the target company is a multinational and no country is specified, then the country where the majority of the target’s activities are undertaken is recorded.
The Sovereign Wealth Center’s database divides the globe into nine regions: Asia-Pacific, Central Asia, Europe, Latin America, Middle East and North Africa (MENA), North America, Oceania, South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa.
In the case of SWF investments via asset managers (whether mandates or fund investments), the database records the primary target region of a fund or the geography of the mandate, when such information is available. If the fund has a global outlook, then the region and target market are recorded as “Global.” If an asset manager has no specific regional focus, then the asset manager’s headquarters is recorded.
We have adapted Morgan Stanley Capital International (MSCI) regional indexes to group investments’ target countries by their level of economic development, which offers an additional insight into SWF investment strategy.
All target countries fall into one of the following MSCI groups:
- Developed Markets World Index
- MSCI Emerging Markets
- MSCI Frontier Markets
- Brics countries
Note: We consider Hong Kong part of China, and therefore one of the BRICS in the database, since SWF investments in Hong Kong are typically into Chinese companies listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.
||South Africa |
||Hong Kong |
||United Arab Emirates
The SWC has developed its own system to classify SWF investments’ target industries. This is adapted from the Industry Classification Benchmark ( http://www.icbenchmark.com/ ) and tailored to reflect SWFs’ investment behavior and strategy.
Direct investments are categorized as one of 12 industries. Mandates and fund investments are all recorded as financial services investments.
The following table shows the 12 industry sectors and their 40 sub-sectors used in our database.
||Oil and gas producers, oil equipment, services and distribution, alternative energy, coal mining |
||Chemicals, forestry and paper, industrial metals, nonenergy mining, agricultural commodities |
||Aerospace and defense, general industrials, industrial engineering, manufacturing |
||Residential and commercial construction, construction materials |
||Electricity generation and distribution, gas distribution, water and multiutilities, transportation assets, toll roads, ports |
||Automobiles and parts, beverages, food producers, household and leisure goods, personal goods, tobacco |
||Healthcare equipment and services, pharmaceuticals and biotechnology |
||Retailers, travel and leisure (including airlines and hotel operators), theme parks, casinos, sports, education |
||Transportation services, waste and disposal services, delivery services, shipping, trucking, business support services, business training and employment agencies, financial administration, industrial suppliers, consulting and law firms |
||Banks, nonlife insurance, life insurance, equity investment instruments |
||Real estate investment and services, real estate investment trusts, properties |
||Media, software and computer services, fixed-line telecommunications, mobile telecommunications, technology hardware and equipment, electronic and electrical equipment, semiconductors and silicon chip manufacturing |
Sovereign Wealth Funds
We define a sovereign wealth fund to be an investment fund that has all four of the following characteristics:
- Owned directly by a national or state government
- Has no explicit current pension or regular state budget liabilities
- Managed in a manner that seeks to grow capital of fund
- Invests in a diverse set of financial asset classes in pursuit of commercial return
Currently our data includes 29 SWF profiles and investment data for 32 SWFs. We expect the number of profiles to rise above 30 before the end of 2013.
We have also chosen to include several SWFs with unusual management characteristics that bring them within the purview of our coverage universe.
Government Pension Fund Global (Norway)
The Government Pension Fund Global is managed by the central bank’s asset management arm, Norges Bank Investment Management (NBIM). On behalf of the GPFG, NBIM undertakes millions of small direct equities investments every year as part of an index-replicating strategy. (In January 2013, it held 1.1 percent of global equities.) If this large volume of transactions were to be included in the database, it would distort the database as a whole.
However, since 2010, GPFG has been empowered to invest up to 5 percent of its portfolio in real estate, and in 2012 it started to invest strategically, taking substantial stakes in companies that are more meaningful, rather than simply as part of an index. We record these real estate and strategic investments, as they are comparable with other SWF direct investments included in the database.
The database also records GPFG’s mandates.
State Administration of Foreign Exchange (SAFE)
The State Administration of Foreign Exchange (SAFE) is the Chinese central bank’s foreign exchange regulatory and management authority. We estimate that only about 15 percent of SAFE’s holdings are invested for profit in international markets. These investments are included in the database.
Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency (SAMA)
Saudi Arabia’s central bank, SAMA, undertakes a wide range of financial activities for and on behalf of the Saudi government, such as issuing the national currency, managing foreign exchange reserves, conducting monetary policy for promoting price and exchange rate stability.
The majority of SAMA’s assets are managed in liquid, low-risk securities, as befits national foreign exchange reserves. However, SAMA also stewards the assets of the Public Investment Fund, (PIF), founded to provide financing support to commercial projects that are strategically significant for the development of the Saudi economy and cannot be implemented by the private sector alone. In 2008, the Saudi Arabian government set aside $5.3 billion to be invested in higher-risk assets abroad through a new entity, Sanabil Al Saudia. Sanabil is managed as part of PIF. Sanabil’s known investments are included in our database.
The database currently excludes funds that may nominally, or generally, be regarded as SWFs, but do not fit our definition. These include funds that function solely as domestic development or stabilization funds and funds that operate in countries where we believe the government standards and oversight preclude the fund from operating in a purely commercial manner, such as those in Gabon, Mauritania and Venezuela. We also exclude funds, such as the Australia’s Queensland Investment Corp., that manage other institutions’ money.
Others may be excluded because they have negligible assets under management, have ceased operating or have been announced but not yet launched. Moreover, we exclude any funds that are used by governments as a cash reserve to fund the general budget, such as the New Mexico State Investment Council or the Permanent Wyoming Mineral Trust Fund. We also exclude pension funds from our data, including those like the Canadian Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB), that appear to act as SWFs.
The following funds are excluded:
Domestic Development Funds
- Druk Holding and Investments (Bhutan)
- Government Investment Unit (Indonesia)
- Palestine Investment Fund
- State Capital Investment Corp. (Vietnam)
- Samruk-Kazyna National Welfare Fund (Kazakhstan)
- Strategic Investment Fund (France)
- National Development Fund of Iran
- 1Malaysia Development Fondo Strategico Italiano (Italian Strategic Fund)
- Alberta Investment Management Corp. (AIMCO)
- Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System (OMERS)
- Canadian Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB)
- Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan
- Caisse de Dépôt et Placement du Québec
- Revenue Regulation Fund (Algeria)
- Reserve Fund (Russia)
- Economic and Social Stabilization Fund (Chile)
- Oil Income Stabilization Fund (Mexico)
- Taiwan National Stabilization Fund
- Oil Revenue Stabilization Account (Sudan)
- Revenue Equalization Reserve Fund (Kiribati)
Other Endowment Funds
- Wyoming State Treasurer’s Office
- New Mexico State Investment Council
- Alabama Trust Fund
- National Oil Account (São Tomé and Príncipe)
Fundo Soberano do Brasil (Brazilian Sovereign Fund) The database excludes the sovereign fund of Brazil because it was funded through a bond issuance and is therefore more akin to a debt.
Dubai International Capital The database excludes DIC because it is owned by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, and not by the United Arab Emirates’ government.
National Development Fund (Venezuela) The database excludes the National Development Fund because its oversight and governance appear to be highly politicized.
The announced date refers to the date of the earliest announcement of an investment, or in the case of amalgamated open market transactions, the announced date of the first completed deal.
Where only stock exchange regulatory filings are available, the announced date is the disclosed date of receipt by the regulatory body. This date may be either a few days before or after a public announcement.
The completed date refers to the declared date of completion of an investment, or in the case of amalgamated open market transactions, the declared date of completion of the final investment.
If no completion date has been disclosed, the database records the earliest date of publication of the available sources. For example, if the only source for an investment is the 2012 annual report, the completion date will be recorded as December 31, 2012 and the announcement date is the publication date of the annual report.
Deal Values and Reported Currency
To ensure compatibility across geographies, we convert all deal values to U.S. dollars. We convert the local currency using the closing exchange rate for each day.
N.B. Figures are not inflation adjusted.
When we amalgamate several market transactions, we convert each transaction into U.S. dollars on the day that it was undertaken and total these to give the final dollar value.
In the case of joint ventures or consortium acquisitions where the total amount is disclosed but individual contributions are not, we estimate their value by dividing the total by the number of investors.
When SWFs invest in convertible securities, we record when they were bought, not when they were exercised.
The notes area is where our analysts record additional details about an investment and explanations of data points that are of key interest. This can include a broad range of extra details, including:
- Subsequent investments and stake increases—for example, in cases where we have amalgamated deals to reflect a SWF’s strategic investment
- Historical data, such as company name changes
- Cross-references to related investments, such as joint ventures
This field denotes whether this is an initial SWF investment int the target asset or a subsequent increase in a stake or mandate.
Deal status shows when an investment is announced, withdrawn or complete.
The Acquisition Technique shows how the SWF acquired the given asset.
For direct investments, the database records 32 separate acquisition techniques:
- Acquirer is an Investor Group
- Block Deal
- Capital Raising
- Debt Financing
- Joint Venture
- New Share Issue
- Off Market Transaction
- Open Market Transaction
- Preferential Allotment
- Private Placement
- Privately Negotiated Transaction
- Secondary Public Offering
- Share Buyback
- Share Swap
For asset manager investments, the database records three acquisition types:
- Fund Investment
- Secondary (where the SWF is acquiring private equity limited partnership interests from another investor)
The database records the full range of security types for both direct and asset manager investments. However, we sought to shorten and simplify this list by grouping certain security types together. For example, “Convertible Security” in the database refers to convertible bonds, warrants, options, convertible notes and convertible debentures, and a range of other similar instruments.
- American Depository Receipts (ADRs)A Shares
- B Shares
- Convertible Security
- Equity Shares
- H Shares
- Joint Venture
- Ordinary Shares
- Philippine Depository Receipts
- Preferred Shares
- Stapled Securities
SWC maintains an extensive library of sovereign wealth fund profiles, which offers in-depth analysis and current insight into funds’ histories, portfolios and investment strategies.
All profiles follow a similar format, including the following sections:
- Fund Snapshot
- Strategy Overview
- Risk Profile and Management
- Fixed Income
- Real Estate
- Private Equity
- Hedge Funds
- Direct Investments
- Organization Overview
- Executive Biographies