(Bloomberg) — Ray Dalio’s Bridgewater Associates has emerged as the biggest short seller of European stocks, wagering more than $5.7 billion against them in a bid to profit from a potential decline in value.
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The investment by the world’s biggest hedge fund firm includes a $1 billion position against semiconductor manufacturer ASML Holding NV and a short wager on TotalEnergies SE worth about $752 million, according to data compiled by Bloomberg based on regulatory filings. The firm has raised its short bets in the region this month to 18 companies.
Short positions are built by selling borrowed shares and buying them back at lower values, pocketing the difference as profit. It’s a handy tool for hedge funds with stocks globally diving into a bear market, under pressure from rising interest rates and spiraling inflation.
It’s not clear if the bets aim for pure profit from declining shares, or form part of a broader hedging strategy at the firm, which uses quantitative models to invest. The total short positions could be even higher because investment firms are not required to disclose smaller bets. Bridgewater, which manages about $150 billion in assets, is the biggest short-seller in Europe, based on the value of its positions.
Greg Jensen, the co-chief investment officer of Bridgewater, declined to comment specifically on the bets but said in a Bloomberg TV interview that assets are emerging from the “suspended animation” created by constant liquidity from central banks. The adjustments are abrupt but small compared to the rally over the last decade that was fueled by quantitative easing, he added.
“You still have very big moves in financial assets in Europe and in the US,” Jensen said. “And that’s what we see and our positions are essentially to protect ourselves from that type of environment.”
Dalio said in an interview with La Repubblica newspaper published Thursday that he is buying assets offering protection against inflation while steering clear of debt assets and countries at risk of domestic strife or international war.
Shorting equities is a tried-and-tested strategy for Bridgewater. Its $14 billion bet against European companies in 2020 also included a short against ASML, and the firm drew attention in 2018 after putting on a $22 billion wager against stocks in the region.
(Updates with Greg Jensen’s comments from fifth paragraph.)
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