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Billionaire Soros cuts US stocks by 37%, buys gold miner

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Billionaire George Soros cut his firm's investments in US stocks by more than a third in the first quarter and bought a US$264 million stake in the world's biggest bullion producer Barrick Gold Corp.

[NEW YORK] Billionaire George Soros cut his firm's investments in US stocks by more than a third in the first quarter and bought a US$264 million stake in the world's biggest bullion producer Barrick Gold Corp.

The value of Soros Fund Management's publicly disclosed holdings dropped by 37 per cent to US$3.5 billion as of the end of the last quarter, according to a government filing Monday.

Mr Soros acquired 1.7 per cent of Barrick, making it the firm's biggest US-listed holding. Mr Soros also disclosed owning call options on 1.05 million shares in the SPDR Gold Trust, an exchange-traded fund that tracks the price of gold.

Mr Soros, who built a US$24 billion fortune through savvy wagers on markets, has warned of risks stemming from China's economy, arguing its debt-fueled economy resembles the US in 2007-08, before credit markets seized up and spurred a global recession.

In January, the former hedge fund manager turned philanthropist said a hard landing in China was "practically unavoidable", adding that such a slump would worsen global deflationary pressures, drag down stocks and boost US government bonds.

Mr Soros sold a stake in Level 3 Communications Inc which was worth US$173 million as of Dec 31 and a holding in Dow Chemical Co that was worth US$161 million. The family office also divested its stakes in Endo International Plc and Delta Air Lines Inc.

Mr Soros's former chief strategist, billionaire investor Stan Druckenmiller, is also bullish on gold. Earlier this month he called gold his largest currency allocation as central bankers experiment with the "absurd notion of negative interest rates".

Gold for immediate delivery jumped 16 per cent in the first three months of the year, the biggest quarterly surge since 1986, according to Bloomberg generic pricing. Shares of Toronto-based Barrick have more than doubled this year as the miner accelerates cost-cutting efforts and reduces debt. Barrick is up 39 per cent since March 31.

Mr Soros returned money to outside investors five years ago and his New York-based firm now manages his own wealth. Michael Vachon, a spokesman for Mr Soros, declined to comment on the firm's holdings.

Glenview Capital Management, the hedge fund run by Larry Robbins, also cut its investments of US-listed stocks last quarter. The value of his firm's equity holdings fell by 22 per cent to US$13.6 billion, a filing shows.

Money managers who oversee more than US$100 million in equities in the US must file a Form 13F within 45 days of each quarter's end to list those stocks as well as options and convertible bonds.

The filings don't show non-US securities, holdings that aren't publicly traded or cash.

BLOOMBERG