Tuesday, May 18, 2010

"Soros unwound huge bet on Citi in first quarter" (C; XLF)

From Reuters:

Soros sold over 94 mln shares of Citigroup in Q1

Soros also sold shares of finance sector ETF (Adds fund manager comment, details of other holdings)

Billionaire investor George Soros in the first quarter sold almost all of the 94.7 million shares of recovering financial services giant Citigroup (C.N), which he had acquired last year, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

As of March 31, 2010, New York-based Soros Fund Management LLC listed ownership of just 10,500 shares of Citi. On Dec. 31, the firm reported owning 94.7 million shares worth $313 million. The stake had been the fifth-largest reported by Soros at year-end.

Shares of Citi plummeted from more than $55 per share in 2007 to less than $2 in 2009. So far this year, the bank's shares have gained 17 percent to close on Monday at $3.86. Soros could have quickly doubled his money if he bought the shares near the end of the fourth quarter for around $2 and sold in March when they recovered to more than $4.

Soros does not typically explain his quarter-to-quarter moves. The firm did not immediately respond to an email sent after normal business hours.

Other Citi shareholders said they remained upbeat about the bank's prospects. "For the last four or five months, we've seen fairly good progress in divestitures, reshaping and restructuring," Marshall Front, a fund manager at Front Barnett Associates in Chicago, said. "Maybe progress has been more modest than some would have liked," he added while declining to comment directly on Soros's activity.

Soros also slashed a related bet in the Select SPDR Financial Sector Exchange-traded Fund (XLF.P), which tracks a broad index of top banks. His firm reported owning 6.5 million shares of the ETF at the end of March down from 12 million shares three months earlier....MORE