Here’s why some sovereign wealth funds could outperform despite the coronavirus crisis

An worker works in the lab that’s centered on preventing COVID-19 at Sorrento Therapeutics in San Diego, California on May 22, 2020.


Sovereign wealth fund investments have fallen in the previous few years and approach earlier than the coronavirus crisis hit, in keeping with a brand new report, however some are regarded as well-positioned for the financial influence of the pandemic.

A brand new report taking a look at sovereign wealth funds’ funding exercise in 2019, carried out by the International Forum of Sovereign Wealth Funds (IFSWF), a community of sovereign wealth funds from virtually 40 nations, confirmed that the variety of publicly disclosed direct investments made by such funds has stagnated since 2017, whereas the quantity of fairness invested has dropped by over one-third to $35 billion in 2019, down from $54.three billion in 2017.

“Sovereign wealth funds, as long-term investors looking for value, have really struggled, particularly in private markets in taking direct stakes, in 2019 and even beginning of 2020. High valuations in the private equity markets, increasingly illiquid stock markets and a really difficult IPO (initial public offering) environment last year made it difficult for them to double down on their investments, so we did see a slowing of direct investments last year and that was before Covid hit,” Victoria Barbary, director of technique and communications, International Forum of Sovereign Wealth Funds, informed CNBC Tuesday.

The report additionally highlighted that the difficult funding local weather prompted sovereign wealth funds to search for alternatives in sectors similar to enterprise software program and providers and biotechnology, which have proved extra resilient to the Covid-19 crisis, “while their interest in sectors such as industrials and financial services, that have been hard-hit by the crisis, waned.”  

The coronavirus, which was first detected in Wuhan, China late final yr, has introduced massive swathes of world financial exercise to a standstill amid lockdowns to cease the unfold of the virus.

Stock markets initially plummeted as the virus took maintain, however large central financial institution stimulus packages have given an enormous enhance to buyers and markets have regained misplaced floor.  On Monday, for instance, the S&P 500 index returned to optimistic territory for 2020 as fears over the coronavirus gave method to optimistic momentum surrounding the reopening of the American economic system.

International Forum of Sovereign Wealth Funds (IFSWF)

What’s extra, some of the investments made not too long ago by sure sovereign wealth funds — state-owned funding automobiles that  use surplus income (similar to cash made out of a nation’s oil and gasoline reserves) to spend money on a wide range of belongings, normally on a long-term foundation — have been shrewd and resilient investments throughout, and as a result of, the pandemic.

“A lot of sovereign wealth funds have been, and we continue to see this this year, have been investing in sectors like biotechnology, like software and digital services, that have actually done comparatively very well during this period,” Barbary informed CNBC’s “Squawk Box Europe.”

“Obviously looking for vaccines, with biotech, and all of these technologies that enable me to talkl to you from home, that enable us to work from home, have also done relatively well and those were things that sovereign wealth funds were doing quite a lot of investment in, in 2019.”

For instance, the report highlighted that $three billion of sovereign wealth fund funding had gone into software program and digital providers, up from $2 billion the earlier yr; “We would expect to see those funds that have really looked at these segments to do pretty well,” she stated.

More sovereign wealth funds have been taking a look at firms and belongings the place they see worth over time, “they are looking at stronger IP (intellectual property) rather than this consumer e-commerce that we saw five years ago,” Barbary stated

The IWSWF report continued on that observe that “high valuations for mature private companies have encouraged those sovereign wealth funds with established private-equity programmes to look for earlier-stage investments, since 2017 particularly, in sectors like healthcare and technology, where more companies are looking for capital and sovereign wealth funds perceive there may be more value.”

“Naturally, as sovereign wealth funds invest at the earlier stage of companies’ lifecycle, they have to reduce the size of cheque they write, reducing the average investment value we have recorded. Equally, high valuations in private markets has also encouraged some sovereign wealth funds to sell investments in assets such as core real estate in major cities and infrastructure, believing the prices of some assets had peaked.”

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