Why sovereign wealth funds find sweet spot in China
At a time when uncertainty has gripped the investment world, global sovereign wealth funds are looking at China for greater certainty in returns.
Chinese assets are becoming increasingly attractive to sovereign wealth funds, thanks to the country’s impressive economic growth, higher asset returns and improved investment access, according to a recent study by investment management firm Invesco.
The firm surveyed 141 senior investment officers or portfolio strategists from 82 sovereign wealth funds and 59 central banks, and found that 98 percent of the funds are willing to maintain or increase their China allocations over the next five years.
“With China’s growing economic standing and the potential attractive returns available on the mainland, it seems likely China will be top of mind for years to come,” the report said.
In fact, some of the biggest sovereign wealth funds are already casting their vote of confidence in the world’s second-largest economy.
By the end of June, China accounted for 4.9 percent of the equity investments of Norway Government Pension Fund Global, making it the single largest emerging market of the large-scale sovereign wealth fund.
Chinese assets accounted for 27 percent of the portfolios of Singapore-based Temasek Holdings by the end of March, more than the share of any other country.
What’s behind the increased exposure to Chinese assets is the prospects of attractive returns. Major stock indices performed particularly well in 2020, helping the Norway Government Pension Fund Global secure a return of 33.9 percent in its Chinese equity investments.
Bond yield is also appealing. The 10-year treasury bond yield in China stood at around 2.9 percent, more than double that in the United States and much higher than the negative returns in the eurozone.
“The returns from the Chinese market have become the key to growth for major sovereign wealth funds,” said Fu Chenggang, chief economist with the International Financial Center Federation.
A more important factor behind the increased investment in China by sovereign wealth funds is the country’s economic resilience.
Usually funded by foreign exchange reserves and a country’s budgetary surplus, sovereign wealth funds are often state-owned and are tasked with generating returns to help stabilize the economy and accumulate wealth for future generations.
With such objectives, the funds usually have a long-term investment horizon and seek stable returns. The Chinese economy, which proved resilient despite the COVID-19 impact, makes it a compelling investment case, said Arnab Das, a global market strategist with Invesco.
The Invesco report also cited China’s increased openness to foreign investment in sectors such as infrastructure as the reason behind their bullishness.
“China’s opening-up measures in the capital market, foreign trade and certain industries not only fuel the long-term growth momentum for the economy but offer more stable expectations for foreign investors,” Fu said.