In tough times, Nobel prize to feel further pinches

Mon Dec 3, 2012 2:26pm EST
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By Niklas Pollard and Alistair Scrutton

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - The Nobel Foundation will cut more costs and try to boost returns from its investments after the global downturn forced it to reduce its prize money by 20 percent this year.

The Nobel Foundation, one of the world's most prestigious institutions, made waves earlier this year when it cut its prizes to 8 million crowns ($1.2 million) after a decade of costs over-running its income from investments.

"I expect that it will stay on this level now for quite a while," Nobel Foundation Executive Director Lars Heikensten told Reuters in an interview on the eve of a week of ceremonies and banquets associated with the prize.

"I don't think we should take it up and down every year depending on circumstances," said Heikensten, a former Swedish central bank chief, adding the prize could be frozen at its current nominal amount for several years.

The drive to conserve capital has already meant renegotiating deals from suppliers such as airlines, restaurants and hotels ahead of this week's ceremonies. Organisers have even cut the number of cars ferrying guests around Stockholm.

For more than a century the foundation has managed the roughly $450 million capital that forms the base for the awards, given for excellence in the fields of science, literature and peace and donated in the will of dynamite inventor Alfred Nobel.

But in recent years it has faced tougher times.

"It is not at all a crisis," Heikensten said. "But we felt that we should do something about it."   Continued...