Norway Oil Fund Lehman Losses Exacerbate Kingdom’s Worst Return

By Richard Tomlinson and Vibeke Laro

Feb. 3 (Bloomberg) — Every weekday when he’s in Oslo, Yngve Slyngstad takes the elevator to his office at Norway’s central bank, logs on to his computer and checks about $300 billion of international investments.

It’s made miserable reading since January 2008, when Slyngstad became chief executive officer of the Government Pension Fund-Global, the world’s third-largest sovereign wealth pool.

Built on the oil revenue that’s transformed Norway into one of the richest and best places to live on the planet, the fund lost 14.5 percent of its value through September. The third quarter was the worst in its 18-year history.

“We burned our fingers, and we’re not very happy about that,” says Slyngstad, 46, a former scholar of German philosophy who’s wearing a gray pinstripe suit and brown-and-white polka-dot tie on this unseasonably mild November day.

The government of Norway, the world’s No. 3 exporter of gas and fifth-biggest exporter of oil, has reaped about $430 billion since it discovered petroleum in the North Sea in 1969.

In May 1990, Norway’s parliament, under Prime Minister Jan P. Syse, voted to set up the Government Petroleum Fund — the original name — as a steward for the riches.

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