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Michael George Haddad for Quartz
STATE OF PLAY

Inside the secretive world of sovereign wealth funds

You’ve probably never heard of Yngve Slyngstad, and that’s understandable. As the financial world buzzes around big-name CEOs like Larry Fink, Jamie Dimon, and Steve Schwarzman, this Norwegian bureaucrat slips happily into the background. He flies economy, doesn’t have a personal assistant, and believes his salary of $800,000—around that of a mid-ranking managing director at Morgan Stanley—is unfairly high.

However, Slyngstad runs Norway’s sovereign wealth fund—which, with around $1 trillion in assets, is twice the size of Morgan Stanley’s investment management fund. The fund controls about 1.4% of all global stocks, and when it throws its weight around, it can really move markets. Some call Slyngstad the “$1 trillion man.”

Sovereign wealth funds (SWFs) like Slyngstad’s are major players in finance and venture capital, commanding about $8 trillion in combined assets—equal to around 10% of global GDP. Their goals often diverge from those of traditional private-sector investors, with much longer investment horizons and, as state-backed actors, some ambiguity as to whether their aims are solely financial.

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