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How to create a British Sovereign Wealth Fund

Brian Sturgess, Keith Boyfield - November 2013

Speed Read
  • Britain does not possess a Sovereign Wealth Fund in contrast to Norway whose Government Pension Fund has assets of US$804 billion.
  • There are proposals to use The Crown Estate, one of Britain’s largest property owners, as the core of a British Sovereign Wealth Fund.
  • The Crown Estate’s position is coming under review with privatisation as another option which would raise significantly greater sums than the recent sale of the Royal Mail
  • Whatever the fate of The Crown Estate it should be permitted to borrow and invest overseas particularly in the Commonwealth.

Just before the Coalition government in Britain part privatised the Royal Mail – incurring criticism for underselling the real value of the assets – a group of Labour MPs affiliated to the troubled Co-op group published a paper calling for the creation of a sovereign wealth fund (SWF) using The Crown Estate as a base. This was a highly significant move since it signalled the beginning of what is likely to become a wide ranging debate on the future of one of Britain’s largest property investment and management businesses. Furthermore, there are 73 SWFs ranging from the world’s smallest the Ghana Petroleum Fund with assets of only US$70 million to the largest the Norway (Government Pension Fund Global) with assets of $803.9 billion. Britain, stands out as an oil and gas producer which has no SWF. 

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