Saturday, April 19, 2014

300 jostle for “Chief Investment Officer” of $1bn Sovereign Wealth Fund

Published:

Finance Minister, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

There is a scramble for the post of Chief Investment Officer of the Sovereign Wealth Fund.

No fewer than 300 applicants are jostling for the post of the Chief Investment Officer of the Sovereign Wealth Fund, SWF, which is yet to commence full operations.

The Managing Director of the Fund, Uche Orji, who was appointed in October, said on Thursday that the selection of the Chief Investment Officer, CIO, for the organisation would soon commence, while the appointment of other key staff would follow later.

“We are in the process of filling the position of the CIO,” Mr. Orji said. “We have so far received 300 resumes for the CIO role and will soon commence the process of short-listing the candidates. We hope to have the interviews early next year and have a CIO in place by early March.

He said arrangements to fill the other key management staff positions in the NSIA will commence on Friday, December 21, with an advertisement calling for applications; in order to ensure that the full complement of staff are in place by the first quarter of 2013.

The Finance Minister, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, also said that preparations towards the full take off of the Sovereign Wealth Fund are in top gear.

Getting set for operations

Ms. Okonjo-Iweala said on Thursday that the strategy document containing the draft blueprint submitted by the management committee has already been ratified by the Mahey Rasheed-led Board of the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority, NSIA.

In addition, the minister said, the investment policy guidelines and the processes for the three Fund mandates would soon be finalized, while the process has since begun for the recruitment of the key personnel and acquisition of a functional office.

The SWF Act was established with the mandate to manage three funds: the Future Generation Fund, which is to help build a savings base for the country; the Nigeria Infrastructure Fund, to enhance the capacity for the development of the country’s basic infrastructure; and the Fiscal Stabilization Fund, to provide support to the country’s economy in times of economic distress.

“Nigeria is poised to benefit significantly if the momentum progress made with the SWF is maintained,” the minister said. “There is still a lot of hard work ahead. We need to remain focused and disciplined so that we can reap the rewards. We are not yet there, but we are on the right track. The question we must keep asking ourselves is: Other countries have benefitted from SWF, why not Nigeria?”

Getting the best for SWF

Mr. Orji, the Sovereign Wealth Fund MD said the emphasis would be on seeking the best investments for Nigeria, adding that the NSIA would not limit itself but would search for the best deals wherever they can be found in the world.

He said the SWF is expected to start investment in March 2013. The Fund is expected to take off with $1 billion (N150 billion) as approved by the Federal Government.

“There are no geographical restrictions, or product restrictions for the Future Generation and Fiscal Stabilisation Fund. We expect to invest across the full spectrum of products (equities, fixed income, alternative assets, etc.), in accordance with our five year rolling plan, that will provide a superior risk adjusted returns for the future generations of Nigerians,” Mr. Orji said.

Under the arrangement, the operations of the Future Generations Fund would initially be fully outsourced, while additional in-house managers would be engaged in future to foster skills in asset management and investments.

On the other hand, the Fiscal Stabilization Fund would be managed in-house to ensure availability of liquidity to government in times of economic stress.

The Nigeria Infrastructure Fund, which would depend on direct investments in both equity and debt instruments along with credible local and international partners, is expected to be managed “in-house.”

He said a five-year rolling plan would soon be developed, with an arrangement to engage other ministries, departments and agencies, MDAs, as well as the private sector participants to develop priority lists and determine specific investment strategies to ensure that the country starts making investments by the second half of 2012.

“Our investment processes and procedures are also being developed here and will be published as a guide for the submission of potential development projects.

“A subset of the Nigeria Infrastructure Fund is the Social Infrastructure Fund, which will hold up to 10 per cent of the assets in the Nigeria Infrastructure Fund aimed at segments of the economy for which economic returns are not the primary drivers,” Mr. Orji said.

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