(Adds quotes by fund chief, detail, background)
* Volvo among the firms targeted by fund
* Three criteria including over $1 bln invested
* Return on investment was 5.4 percent in Q1
By Gwladys Fouche
OSLO, April 26 Norway's sovereign wealth fund,
one of the world's biggest investors, said it wants to play a
more active role in management of companies in which it is
heavily invested, a list that includes Sweden's Volvo
The fund, whose investments totalled $728 billion on Friday,
said it aimed to participate in the election of board members at
"It means having an ownership in the order of 5 percent and
that we find ourselves among the top five investors," Chief
Executive Yngve Slyngstad said on Friday.
"Our ownership should be significant, in the order of $1
billion," he added.
This is the latest step by the fund, which invests Norway's
revenues from oil and gas for future generations, as it moves to
more actively manage its portfolio.
The fund wants to ensure that shareholders are treated
equally and that actions taken by some companies it owns do not
impact negatively other companies it has invested in, among
other reasons, Slyngstad said.
Slyngstad declined to name the companies the fund had in
mind, but based on the three criteria he cited, the standout
would be Volvo, the world's No.2 truck-maker.
Norway has become a leading voice in encouraging global
sovereign wealth funds, which manage assets of over $5 trillion,
to become more active in exercising their rights and
Greater participation in corporate governance from these
funds may help boost their own accountability and transparency,
helping them gain acceptance for their investments in other
countries. Many funds still prefer to give companies cash
quietly and not intervene, however.
Separately, Slyngstad said the Norwegian fund had a 5.4
percent return on its portfolio in the first quarter of 2013,
slightly beating its own benchmark index.
The fund held 62.4 percent of its portfolio in equity
holdings against 61.2 percent at the end of the fourth quarter.
The fund's results were boosted by a 14 percent return on
U.S. stocks, which amount to 30 percent of its equity portfolio,
as well as a 14 percent rise in Japanese stocks.
The fund is gradually increasing the amount of equity it
holds in its portfolio. Last year it was allowed by the
Norwegian finance ministry to reduce its bond holdings to 40
percent from 60 percent of its investments.
It is also gradually cutting its holdings in European stocks
and increasing its investments in companies in higher-performing
(With reporting by Natsuko Waki in London; editing by Jane