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Former Norway state fund CEO Slyngstad steps down from unlisted renewables position

Slyngstad to join climate-focused asset manager owned by oil & gas services player Aker

Yngve Slyngstad, the former longstanding CEO of Norges Bank Investment Management (NBIM), the manager of Norway’s trillion-dollar sovereign wealth fund, has stepped down from his current role which involved developing the fund’s unlisted renewable strategy, to head up the fledgling asset management arm of local conglomerate Aker.  

Slyngstad headed the fund for a total of 13 years and built up its equity management arm for seven years prior to that – before stepping aside in 2020 upon the appointment of current CEO, hedge fund billionaire Nicolai Tangen. Slyngstad has remained with NBIM and his responsibilities have included building up unlisted energy infrastructure as a new investment area for the fund while also advising Tangen and leading a number of historical management reviews.  

Under his tenure, the $1.3trn fund – also known as the ‘Oil Fund’ – has emerged as one of the world’s most forward-thinking proponents of social, climate and ethical investing principles, going so far as mooting the divestment of the entire oil and gas sector – from which it draws its great wealth – in 2017. The proposal was later abandoned after failing to win political approval, but the Norwegian finance ministry did later get approval to drop dedicated oil and gas production and exploration companies.  

Slyngstad is due to join Aker Asset Management (AAM) in March as CEO and Senior Partner, and will receive 5% of AAM shares under the terms of his appointment. AAM – which was set up last month – is majority owned by Oslo-listed oil and gas services company Aker and will “establish funds totalling € 100bn that will invest in profitable climate solutions that create value” according to a company statement.  

Aker recently announced the appointment of another Norwegian industry figure – former head of sustainability at the Norwegian pension giant KLP Jeanett Bergan – to subsidiary Aker Horizons, an incubator for renewable energy companies and decarbonisation solution providers.  

Following Slyngstad’s departure, the details around his role in NBIM’s unlisted renewable energy investment business over the past year are somewhat unclear. News reports last year suggested Slyngstad was himself responsible for steering the renewables push, and that he told a press conference in March last year that him and his team were aiming to invest 100bn NOK ($10.7bn) into unlisted renewable projects by 2022, initially looking at wind and solar parks in Europe and North America.  

However, an NBIM spokesperson told RI today that it had not announced such a target, and referred to a maximum provision of 120bn NOK ($13.2bn) for environment-related investments in its mandate. Unlisted renewables investments fall within this broader mandate.  

In addition, fund Chief Real Assets Officer Mie Holstad has overall responsibility for unlisted renewable energy infrastructure, the spokesperson said while Slyngstad has been a “key principal” for the investments.  

Meanwhile, the fund’s first and only investment in unlisted renewables remains the €1.4bn deal with Danish utility Ørsted which saw the acquisition of a 50% stake in an operational wind farm of the Dutch coast.  

While there is longstanding interest from institutional investors to allocate capital towards renewable energy infrastructure, the flood of capital into later stage and operational projects – such as the Dutch NBIM acquisition – has squeezed returns on such assets and made it more challenging for investors to significantly ramp up their investments in renewable projects that fit their risk profile.