Caspian Energy (CE): How did the fall in prices for conventional energy sources affect the financial situation of NBIM?
Marthe Skaar, Manager of Communications and External Relations, Norges Bank Investment Management: The inflow to the fund is obviously substantially lower since this stems from oil and gas revenue at the Norwegian continental shelf. The strategy of the fund is however not affected as we have a large cash flow from dividend, coupons, rent, etc and is not in a situation where we need to sell assets.
We are a global investor with investments in more than 9,000 companies globally. We enter markets once they have mature capital markets and fulfill our criteria as an investor.
CE: Are you interested in the markets of emerging economies such as Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and other countries of the Caspian region?
Marthe Skaar: Our overall strategy is to have a global, diversified portfolio. We added new markets during 2015 and will add more as soon as they satisfy our requirements for market standards. We had investments related to 78 countries at the end of 2015. For the Caspian Sea region we have investments in Russia and Kazakhstan.
CE: Do you consider investment in the gas sector now to be more promising that into oil projects?
Marthe Skaar: As a global diversified investor we have investments in both sectors. Gas could obviously be important in a transition phase from coal. We have no official view on whether it is more promising than oil projects.
CE: Economic reforms are now in process in Azerbaijan and a program for privatization of state-owned companies engaged in the non-oil sector is to be announced soon. Is NBIM interested in joining these processes as an investor?
Marthe Skaar: According to our mandate we can only invest in listed equities, bonds and real estate. We will thereby not buy unlisted companies.
CE: How would you evaluate the results of the COP21 conference in Paris? What changes are going to happen in the financial sector as a result of global warming, since this process is already beginning to affect economy?
Marthe Skaar: Climate change strategy has been a focus are for the fund for almost ten years. We expect companies to integrate relevant climate change challenges and opportunities in their business management, such as investment planning, risk management, and reporting. We attended COP21 in Paris and we are positive towards the response from a large number of companies that has committed to reducing their emissions. We believe that ESG factors could affect the companies risk profile in the long-run and therefore see it as important that companies have both good reporting and clear strategies around these issues.
Interview made by Olga Nagiyeva