Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund sees 9 percent asset growth since January | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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File photo of the Riyadh skyline. (Asharq Al-Awsat)

File photo of the Riyadh skyline. (Asharq Al-Awsat)

File photo of the Riyadh skyline. (Asharq Al-Awsat)

Jeddah, Asharq Al-Awsat—Total assets of Saudi Arabia’s main sovereign wealth fund, SAMA Foreign Holdings (SAMA), have jumped 9 percent since January, allowing it to maintain its position as the world’s third-largest, according to a report by the Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute (SWFI).

In its most recent ranking of global sovereign wealth funds, the Washington-based SWFI said SAMA’s total assets had risen to 737.6 billion US dollars in October, up 9 percent from 675.9 billion dollars in January.

However, Dr. Ali Al-Tuwati, an economics professor at the King Abdulaziz University in Jeddah, told Asharq Al-Awsat that SAMA’s position in the rankings would likely fall next year if global oil prices did not stabilize.

The price of crude has been in steep decline over the last few months, losing more than 20 percent of its value since June and now hovering around 80 US dollars per barrel, much lower than the 100-dollar-per-barrel break-even mark Saudi Arabia and other major petroleum exporters rely on to meet budgetary requirements.

According to SWFI, 59 percent of all sovereign wealth fund assets derive from surpluses gained from petroleum sales. The assets of the top-three largest funds in the world—Norway’s Government Pension Fund – Global, the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority’s (ADIA) fund, and SAMA—all deploy surpluses deriving from petroleum sales.

Total global sovereign wealth fund assets reached 6.9 trillion dollars in October, according to the report, with those from Arab countries accounting for 35 percent of all assets.

Only Asia, which represents around 40 percent of global assets, accounted for more.

European funds, meanwhile, made up 17 percent of all total sovereign wealth fund assets, with US funds accounting for only 3 percent.

The largest Arab fund after SAMA and the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority’s fund—whose assets total assets remained at 773 billion dollars from last January—was Kuwait Investment Authority’s fund, in sixth place with assets totaling 548 billion dollars.

Qatar Investment Authority’s fund—the next Arab fund in the rankings—dropped one place to 11th, with assets totaling 170 billion dollars.

The world’s largest fund, Norway’s Government Pension Fund – Global, had assets of 893 billion dollars. It overtook ADIA in 2012 as the world’s largest.