sovereign wealth fund

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An investment fund that is owned by a sovereign nation and managed by a central bank, state pension fund, or official investment company. Most such funds originated in foreign-exchange reserves built up from the sale of commodity exports (notably oil). The growing size and influence of SWFs attracted much comment in the late 2000s, when sovereign funds acquired major stakes in many Western banks and financial institutions. Most of the world’s largest SWFs belong to developing nations (e.g. Abu Dhabi, Singapore, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait) but important funds are also held by Norway, Russia, and Australia.

Subjects: Financial Institutions and Services — Accounting.

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