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Sovereign wealth fund declines in March quarter

  • April 28 2020
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Invest

Sovereign wealth fund declines in March quarter

By Cameron Micallef
April 28 2020

The Future Fund has sidestepped the COVID-19 market downturn, recording modest losses in the March quarter due to low illiquid exposures.

Peter Costello

Sovereign wealth fund declines in March quarter

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  • April 28 2020
  • Share

The Future Fund has sidestepped the COVID-19 market downturn, recording modest losses in the March quarter due to low illiquid exposures.

Peter Costello

The ASX 200 fell 23.1 per cent and the S&P 500 fell 19.7 per cent during the March quarter, with the Future Fund outperforming expectations and recording a negative return of 3.4 per cent.

In its quarterly update, the Future Fund showed that it had fallen by $5.7 billion to $162 billion, resulting in a modest gain for the financial year to date of 0.2 per cent.

Future Fund chairman Peter Costello credited that performance to selling or reducing more than 30 individual illiquid positions due to high pricing and to “increased portfolio flexibility”. 

“For some time, we have warned about the risks to markets and the need to position the portfolio for a range of uncertainties,” said Mr Costello. “Our dynamic approach has been extremely valuable in helping us prepare for and navigate a historic dislocation brought about by COVID-19. The board is focused on positioning for what remains a challenging and volatile environment.”

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While the Future Fund’s defensive strategies have performed “as expected”, chief investment officer Dr Raphael Arndt says they won’t be charging into opportunities presented by the unprecedented market movements.

“It is too early to know whether the unprecedented fiscal and monetary policy stimulus by governments around the world will be sufficient to offset the significant impact to global growth due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” Dr Arndt said. “As a result, while we have participated in several opportunities created by the market disruption over recent weeks, we remain cautious in terms of overall portfolio positioning.”

“In these challenging times, portfolio diversification, flexibility and prudent management of risk remain as important as ever.” 

The Future Fund has an exposure of around 32 per cent to illiquid assets, including infrastructure and private equity. 

“The Future Fund has always marked its illiquid assets to market as at 30 June after rigorous testing and under a methodology supervised by independent audit,” Mr Costello said. “This will be done as usual after 30 June 2020.” 

“The Future Fund is designed to strengthen the long-term financial position of the Commonwealth, and the board remains focused on generating strong long-term risk-adjusted returns.”

Sovereign wealth fund declines in March quarter
Peter Costello
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About the author

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Cameron is a journalist for Momentum Media's nestegg and Smart Property Investment. He enjoys giving Aussies practical financial tips and tricks to help grow their wealth and achieve financial independence. As a self-confessed finance nerd, Cameron enjoys chatting with industry experts and commentators to leverage their insights to grow your portfolio.

About the author

Cameron is a journalist for Momentum Media's nestegg and Smart Property Investment. He enjoys giving Aussies practical financial tips and tricks to help grow their wealth and achieve financial independence. As a self-confessed finance nerd, Cameron enjoys chatting with industry experts and commentators to leverage their insights to grow your portfolio.

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