Sovereign wealth funds (SWFs) have emerged as significant and sometimes controversial players in the global financial landscape.
Even though Asia has some well-established SWFs, new ones are coming up all the time.
The latest entrants are the Maharlika Investment Fund in the Philippines and the newly-minted SWF by Malaysia’s resource-rich Serawak state.
These large institutional investors play a crucial national development and wealth preservation roles, especially in Asia.
Their importance is only set to grow in coming decades due to their ability to channel huge volumes of sovereign savings towards investments that can boost economic growth.
In an increasingly complex global economy and amid rising geopolitics, the role of state-owned investors such as SWFs tend to generate high public scrutiny.
‘Sovereign wealth fund’ as a Google search term hit a high in 2023 not seen since 2008, amid a renewed interest in geopolitics and economics and rising importance of institutional investors, according to Global SWF’s annual 2024 report.
With Asia home to some of the world’s oldest and most sophisticated SWFs, AsianInvestor decided to shine a spotlight on the top entities and key executives doing an outstanding job in preserving and growing sovereign wealth while promoting economic development.
“National reserves that helped various Asian countries weather the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown and aid economic recovery, for example, were built up over years by SWFs,” said Andrew Hendry, head of distribution for Asia and Singapore CEO at Janus Henderson Investors.
“In the end, SWFs provide huge social dividends, improving infrastructure and healthcare systems, preserving generational wealth and eventually helping to lift people out of poverty,” he told AsianInvestor.
LIST OF TOP 10
Traditionally, SWFs were created in countries whose governments generated excess capital from sources such as fiscal surpluses, official foreign currency operations; privatisation proceeds and exports of commodities oil and gas and metals and minerals.
Asia, however, is home to what some experts call 'strategic' or 'catalytic' sovereign wealth funds, that are designed to encourage co-investments – often with other SWFs – in critically important sectors.
They aim to invest locally and attract inbound capital to promote local development instead of investing overseas.
Indonesia Investment Authority (INA) is a prime example of this breed of SWFs and AsianInvestor believes catalytic wealth funds will be a significant player in Asia’s financial landscape over coming decades.
To select our top 10 candidates who exemplify the best of Asia's SWF industry, we spoke to independent investment and sustainability consultants, as well as senior executives at asset management companies who interact and work with wealth funds.
This time, our list of SWF heavy-hitters was more concentrated and the editorial team undertook its own exhaustive research over four months to finalise the 10 individuals we decided to showcase for 2024.
Our list contains names from sovereign funds headquartered in the region as well as a few from outside the region, because of their influence in developing various asset classes and regional capital markets via their investments.
This list – which is not ranked – will be unveiled over the next five working days, starting tomorrow.
The names on the list are based on the alphabetical order of countries where the wealth funds are based.
AsianInvestor’s top 10 SWF executives in Asia showcases senior executives from wealth funds based in Australia, Bhutan, Brunei, China, Indonesia, Korea, Malaysia, Norway, Singapore and Saudi Arabia.
As with our top 20 pension fund executives in Asia, the SWF list is not exhaustive.
Our primary aim is to recognise and showcase the individuals that we believe are doing outstanding work in helping preserve and grow national wealth.
Here is the list: