Some of hedge fund billionaire George Soros’s short positions dating back to 2012 were published on the Dutch financial market regulator’s website this week due to “human error,” according to the regulator AFM.
The short positions, bets on a stock declining, were “between 0.2 percent and 0.5 percent,” of shares outstanding in the companies shorted, AFM spokesman Ward Snijders said by phone on Thursday. The Dutch regulator publishes shorts of 0.5 percent or higher on its website on a daily basis. The smaller amounts were posted by mistake, he said.
The Financial Times earlier reported that some of the positions, including bets against Dutch banks, including ING Groep NV, appeared briefly on the website on Tuesday evening. ING declined to comment on Thursday.
Soros, whose fortune is estimated at $25.2 billion by the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, is in the same league as Warren Buffett when it comes to investors copying their trades as they try to ride the coattails of the super successful. Short positions, which are typically closely guarded, in Deutsche Bank AG jumped when it was revealed in June that Soros had bet that the stock would fall after the U.K. voted to leave the European Union. The German bank fell 14 percent on the first day after the ballot.
The Dutch regulator’s spokesman couldn’t disclose whether there has been contact with Soros following Tuesday’s error. A spokesman for Soros didn’t respond to an e-mail seeking comment.
The 86-year-old investor lost about $1 billion by betting against the market after the election of U.S. President Donald Trump, according to the Wall Street Journal this month. The hiring of a chief investment officer may reduce Soros’s role, the paper reported.
Soros has managed as much as $30 billion as founder and chairman at New York-based Soros Fund Management LLC. Currency bets on the pound in 1992, the Thai baht five years later and the yen in 2012-13 helped Soros attain a fortune ranked 26th globally by Bloomberg. He’s donated $8 billion to charities since founding the pro-democracy Open Society Foundations in 1979.
Regulators have pushed for more transparency around short positions. The European Union imposed rules in 2012 on short bets against some securities in the political bloc to reduce the risk of destabilizing sovereign-debt markets. The U.K.’s Financial Services Authority introduced a regulation in June 2008 requiring disclosure of short positions of more than 0.25 percent for companies that are selling new shares in rights offerings.
By Ellen Proper & Colin McClelland