Here’s What Investors With $3.4 Trillion Are Buying During Covid

Lim Chow Kiat
Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg
The fund only officially discloses it manages more than $100 billion but has more like $450 billion, according to the Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute, making it the sixth-biggest in the world.
In two of its largest deals this year, it was part of a group that acquired a 49% stake in ADNOC Gas Pipelines for $10.1 billion, and last month teamed with Australian property group Charter Hall in a A$682 million ($500 million) acquisition of more than 200 convenience stores attached to gas stations.
Chief Investment Officer Jeffrey Jaensubhakij says even areas like hospitality could bounce back before global travel resumes. “Once you’ve contained the virus, domestic travel can come back even if international travel can’t,” he said. “Then there might be opportunities in the hotel space where domestic travel could continue to grow and take up a fair amount of demand.”
Global border closures can only be temporary, and trade is slowly recovering, says Didier Borowski, head of global views at Amundi SA, Europe’s largest asset manager which oversees the equivalent of about $1.9 trillion.
However, he predicts pharmaceutical and health industries will relocate production of some key goods to avoid being dependent on one country. But even then, Borowski says it would be too expensive and not cost-efficient to bring it all home.
“This is the end of unbridled globalization, not the end of globalization,” he said in an interview earlier this month.
With travel restrictions limiting holiday plans, so-called staycations are back on the agenda, says Will James, deputy head of European equities at Standard Life Aberdeen Plc, whose team manages the equivalent of about $11 billion.
It’s invested in Thule Group AB, the Swedish maker of bike racks and roof-top luggage carriers for cars, whose shares have almost doubled since late-March.
“Rather than going abroad to the beach, people are staying home to drive around the country,” he said in an interview late last month.
Aviation stocks like Airbus SE could “recover very aggressively” if a vaccine is found, though he warns it’s still unclear if the world will ever go back to the way things were even if it works.
Bonds are one of the great unloved assets of the Covid crisis, says Andrew McCaffery, global CIO at Fidelity International, which manages about $437 billion.
Andrew McCaffery
Photographer: Misha Friedman/Bloomberg
Carmaker bonds are particularly attractive as auto production picks up, and more people drive to avoid crowded public transport, he said in an interview earlier this month.
“If you look at credit spreads, they’ve moved to levels that make the bonds of some global carmakers relatively attractive,” he said, citing Ford Motor Co. and Nissan Motor Co. as examples. “These bonds are unloved, especially when you consider there’s been an increase in car usage versus public transport.”
During the pandemic selloff and rebound AustralianSuper, the nation’s biggest pension fund with the equivalent of about $133 billion, kept more than half its portfolio in Australian and global stocks and reduced holdings of property, credit and private equity.
Now it’s hunting for digital, transport and social infrastructure investments as governments pump-prime economies, CIO Mark Delaney said last week. The firm is also looking for more renewable energy opportunities like last year’s $300 million deal with Quinbrook Infrastructure Partners as governments consider a green rebound.
Mark Delaney
Photographer: Brendon Thorne/Bloomberg
“Clearly doing more around the environment will be a really great long-term outcome,” he said. “Given governments are prepared to spend more and be more proactive around the economy, they’ll probably be far more proactive around the environment as well.”
With a mandate to maximize long-term returns, Australia’s sovereign wealth fund is keeping its powder dry, CEO Raphael Arndt said at its annual portfolio update earlier this month. The $118 billion fund is positioned cautiously with no pressure to deploy its liquidity “unless and until the opportunities arise,” he …