Billionaire George Soros’s investment firm snapped up shares of ViacomCBS, Discovery and Baidu as they were being sold off in massive blocks during the collapse of Bill Hwang’s Archegos Capital Management.
Soros Fund Management bought $194 million of ViacomCBS Inc., Baidu Inc. stock valued at $77 million, as well $46 million of Vipshop Holdings Ltd. and $34 million of Tencent Music Entertainment Group during the first quarter, according to a regulatory filing released Friday. A person familiar with the fund’s trading said the company didn’t hold the shares prior to Archegos’s implosion.
Archegos, the family office of former hedge fund manager Hwang, fell apart during the last week of March after amassing large leveraged positions in a concentrated portfolio of U.S. and Chinese companies. At its peak, the family office had more than $20 billion of capital and total bets exceeding $100 billion.
Hwang was wiped out in just days after investments including ViacomCBS and Discovery tumbled, triggering margin calls from global banks, who then sold the stocks in the big block trades. The fiasco is expected to cost the finance industry about $10 billion, has prompted an investigation by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and caused heads to roll at Credit Suisse Group AG, where the hit exceeds $5 billion.
The 13F filing provides one of the first examples of how a hedge fund attempted to capitalize on the distressed remains of Archegos. It also offers an insight into Soros’s investment firm, which is run by Chief Investment Officer Dawn Fitzpatrick.
She told Bloomberg in March that she was willing to jump on dislocations in the market, investing $4 billion during the pandemic-induced swoon a year ago, including buying residential mortgages on the cheap. Soros returned almost 30% in the 12 months through February and manages $27 billion across a range of strategies.
“When there’s a dislocation, we’re prepared to not just double down but triple down when the facts and circumstances support that,” Fitzpatrick, 51, said in a “Front Row” interview on Bloomberg TV.
Soros also increased its bet on Amazon.com Inc. and homebuilder DR Horton Inc., which is now its second-largest public equity position.
The 13F, which money managers overseeing more than $100 million in U.S. equities must file quarterly, revealed that Soros held $4.5 billion of U.S. equities, down $77 million from the prior quarter.
The biggest exit in the quarter was Palantir Technologies Inc. Soros sold 18.5 million shares valued at about $435 million. The firm originally revealed it owned a stake in the controversial data-mining company controlled by Peter Thiel in November, but rapidly issued a statement saying the original investment was made in 2012 and it regretted the decision.