Total income on direct investments consists of distributed earnings, reinvested earnings and income on debt, which is mainly interests. Distributed earnings and reinvested earnings are the two biggest factors behind the increased income in 2021.

Main figures of the direct investments for 2021are as follows:

  • Total positions for Foreign enterprises directly owned from Norway with at least 20 per cent. increased from 1 816 NOK billion in 2020 to 1 866 NOK billion, which is an increase of 2.8 per cent

  • Total positions for Norwegian enterprises directly owned from abroad with at least 20 per cent. increased from 1 425 NOK billion in 2020 to 1 454 NOK billion in 2021, which is an increase of 2 per cent

  • Total income of Norwegian foreign direct investment was 115 NOK billion in 2021

  • Total income of foreign direct investment in Norway was 209 NOK billion in 2021

  • Distributed earnings had about doubled since 2020. Large profits led to a sharp increase in reinvested earnings in 2021

Distributed earnings, also known as dividends, is the income the owners get from their investment in the enterprise. There are several factors that determine how much distributed earnings are to be paid out to the owners, among them the profit of the enterprise. It is the General meeting of the enterprise which decides the size of the distributed earnings.

Reinvested earnings are part of the enterprise’s profit that is kept in the enterprise. If the distributed earnings are larger than the profit, reinvested earnings are negative. When this occurs, it can be interpreted as a disinvestment. In the opposite case, when the profit is larger than the distributed earnings, reinvested earnings are positive, which means the investors have increased the investment in the enterprise.

Record high distributed earnings

Figure 1 illustrates distributed earnings for Norwegian foreign direct investment and foreign direct investment in Norway, from 2013 to 2021. The figure shows that the distributed earnings in 2021 were at the highest since the start of the timeseries in 2013.

Figure 1. Distributed earnings. 2013-2021. NOK billion

Norwegian enterprises almost doubled the distributed earnings to their foreign direct investors, from 72.2 NOK billion in 2020 to 141.8 NOK billion in 2021. The distributed earnings the Norwegian enterprises received from their direct investments abroad, more than doubled from 2020 to 2021, from 53.9 NOK billion to 124.2 NOK billion. The average of distributed earnings paid to foreign direct investors and received from direct investments abroad in the timeseries 2013 to 2021, were 73 NOK billion and 68 NOK billion, respectively. This indicates that the distributed earnings in 2021 were of significant sizes.

Sharp increase of reinvested earnings

Figure 2 shows reinvested earnings in the period of 2013 to 2021.

Figure 2. Reinvested earnings. 2013-2021. NOK billion

The sharp increase of reinvested earnings for foreign direct investments in Norway from 2020 to 2021 amounted to 97 NOK billion. The increase from −39.9 NOK billion to 57.1 NOK billion came from the considerably higher profits in the Norwegian enterprises in 2021, compared to 2020.  The profits of the Norweigan foreign direct investments also had a significant increase, but the distributed earnings were still higher than the profits, hence the reinvested earnings remained negative, at −19.9 NOK billion in 2021, up from −57.2 NOK billion in 2020.

Highest distributed earnings from "mining and quarrying"

As in previous years, it was the industry “mining and quarrying”, which includes the oil- and gas industry, that had the highest distributed earnings to their foreign investors in 2021.

Figure 3 shows some selected industries’ paid distributed earnings to their foreign owners from 2013 to 2021. The industries “manufacture”, «wholesale and retail trade: repair of motovehicles» and «financial and insurance activities» were also among the industries with the highest distributed earnings in 2021. “Financial and insurance activities» was the industry with the highest increase from 2020 to 2021.

Figure 3. Distributed earnings, selected industries (SIC2007), foreign direct investment in Norway. 2013-2021. NOK billion

Data for 2020 has been revised since the last publishing in January 2022.


Change in calculation of positions of debt instruments

On data from 2020, the calculation of positions of debt instruments have been corrected. The revisions for 2020 corresponds to a decrease of 30 billion kroner on Norwegian foreign direct investments and a decrease on foreign direct investment of 30 billion kroner. Data from before 2020 will be revised in the upcoming main revision in 2024.