Norway SWF says Japan exposure may be too low

OSLO Fri Mar 18, 2011 12:20pm GMT

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OSLO (Reuters) - Norway's $544-billion sovereign wealth fund said its exposure to Japan's financial assets may be too low and that it believed the Japanese economy would recover from an earthquake, tsunami and nuclear emergency.

"If anything, the fund may have too low exposure to Japan," the fund's Chief Executive Yngve Slyngstad told Reuters, adding that 5.2 percent of the fund's assets were based in Japan.

"Compared to Japan's relative share of world GDP, we are not really that exposed to the (Japanese) economy. The difficult situation has not changed our confidence in the Japanese economy's ability to get through this."

Slyngstad also said in an interview that the fund has not reduced its exposure to Middle East and North African nations due to unrest in the region. About 0.5 percent of the fund's assets are in the region, mostly in Turkey and Israel.

"We are carefully watching the situation and with the longer time horizon that we have, we will certainly sit through this and reducing exposure is not in question," he said, adding that the fund may soon start investing in Saudi Arabia.

Slyngstad said that all of last year's net equity purchases by the fund were made in Europe, boosting the fund's stake in European companies to 1.85 percent -- compared to 0.7 percent in the rest of the world.

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