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Norway parties inclined to back fund’s plan to slash oil exposure -report

REUTERS STAFF: DECEMBER 12, 2017

OSLO, Dec 12 (Reuters) – Norway’s $1 trillion sovereign wealth fund, the world’s largest, will probably win backing from parliament for its proposal to cut most oil and gas stocks from its portfolio, business daily Dagens Naeringsliv reported on Tuesday.

If adopted by parliament, the fund would over time divest billions of dollars from oil and gas stocks, which now represent 6 percent – or around $37 billion – of its benchmark equity index.

The fund last month suggested it should cut oil and gas companies from its benchmark index to make the Norwegian government’s wealth less vulnerable to low crude prices.

A majority of parties in Norway’s parliament, including the top opposition Labour Party and the smaller Centre Party, the Socialist Left and the Christian Democrats, told Dagens Naeringsliv they were inclined to back the proposal.

The Conservative-led minority government has said it will study the suggestion and give its opinion in the autumn of 2018, ahead of a potential decision by parliament in 2019.

While most of the opposition parties said they will take the government’s view into account before making a final decision, they have the power to decide the outcome among themselves.

The fund is among the top investors in a wide range of oil companies. At the end of 2016 it held 2.3 percent of Royal Dutch Shell, 1.7 percent of BP, 0.9 percent of Chevron and 0.8 percent of Exxon Mobil.

It also held 1.7 percent of Italy’s Eni, 1.6 percent of France’s Total and 0.9 percent of Sweden’s Lundin Petroleum, among others. (Reporting by Oslo newsroom; editing by Jason Neely)

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