Oil provides the bulk of Norway's sovereign funds - but with energy markets in a state of volatility has taken a hit. Image Credit: Reuters

Oslo: Norway's sovereign wealth fund, the world's biggest, lost $21 billion in the first-half of the year as a rebound in stock markets wasn't enough to erase its record decline earlier this year.

The fund declined 3.4 per cent, or 188 billion kroner ($21 billion) over the period. "Even though markets recovered well in the second quarter, we are still witnessing considerable uncertainty," the fund's Deputy CEO Trond Grande said in a statement.

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Lots of strife

It's been a tumultuous period for the $1.2 trillion fund. In addition to the market chaos that's played havoc with returns this year, the investor has been dragged into a political debacle over the appointment of its new CEO, hedge-fund manager Nicolai Tangen.

Tangen is set to replace Yngve Slyngstad on September 1, though it's not yet clear whether parliament will decide this week to get the government involved and possibly postpone, or even halt, the transition. The central bank, which houses the fund, has met fierce criticism for its handling of Tangen's recruitment, specifically for failing to address potential conflicts of interest relating to his personal wealth.

The fund, which was set up in the 1990s to invest Norway's oil income into foreign securities, is also set to embark on historic asset sales this year to cover the government's need for stimulus cash. Withdrawals reached a record 167 billion kroner, or $19 billion in the first-half.