Norges Bank boosts stake in Malaysian conglomerate Cahya Mata Sarawak By

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Norges Bank, the central bank and sovereign wealth fund manager of Norway, has become a substantial shareholder in Cahya Mata Sarawak Bhd, a Malaysia-listed conglomerate. The news led to a surge in Cahya Mata’s shares, which rose as much as 6.5% on Monday, currently standing at 1.13 ringgit ($0.24), marking a 26% gain over the past 12 months.

The Norwegian central bank, known for being the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund, acquired 54.05 million shares or a 5.03% stake in Cahya Mata on September 14, according to a notice of interest of a substantial shareholder. The exact purchase price was not disclosed by Cahya Mata Sarawak in its bourse filing.

This acquisition is seen as an endorsement of Malaysia’s investment climate. “Certainly, it means Malaysia can offer good values for long-term investments,” said Mohd Afzanizam Abdul Rashid, Bank Muamalat Malaysia Bhd chief economist and head of social finance, on Sunday. He added that Malaysia’s pro-business government and robust regulatory framework adhering to international standards safeguard the interests of foreign investors.

However, Dr Geoffrey Williams, an economist at Malaysia University of Science and Technology, suggested that the size of the investment indicates it may not be purely commercial but could be more strategic. He noted that the investment by Norges Bank is around $12 million, which is marginal compared to their total fund of $1.42 trillion. “It may be a more strategic investment to promote Norges Bank’s involvement in ESG (environmental, social and governance) in Sarawak across the 35 Cahya Mata companies,” Williams said.

Norges Bank Investment Management is reported as the largest single owner in the world’s stock markets, owning almost 1.5% of all shares in the world’s listed companies. The fund, valued at 15.3 trillion kroner or equivalent to $1.43 trillion as at June 30 this year, has invested in 156 listed companies in Malaysia. Its three biggest investments in Malaysia are in the banking sector, namely Public Bank Bhd, Malayan Banking Bhd and CIMB Group Holdings Bhd.

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