Soros Buys Stake in Liberty Broadband, Sells Barrick Gold

  • Firm buys Liberty stake worth $533.5 million as of June 30
  • Sells most of Barrick Gold stake, previously largest holding

Billionaire George Soros bought a stake valued at $533.5 million in Liberty Broadband Corp. last quarter and sold most of his holding in Barrick Gold Corp., previously his firm’s biggest disclosed equity position.

His Soros Fund Management acquired 8.9 million shares of Liberty, which invests in cable companies, making it the firm’s biggest U.S.-listed holding as of June 30, according to a filing Monday with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Soros sold 18.3 million shares of Barrick Gold, a stock that almost tripled in the first six months of the year.

Soros is becoming more involved in day-to-day trading at his family office and has made a series of bearish calls about the global economy this year. His $25 billion firm is seeking a new chief investment officer for the seventh time since 2000. Ted Burdick is stepping down as CIO after less than a year in the role, people with knowledge of the matter said last week.

The firm doubled the size of its bet against the broader market, disclosing that it held put options on 4 million shares of the SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust with a market value of $839 million at the end of June. That’s up from three months earlier, when Soros Fund Management reported owning put options on 2.1 million SPDR S&P 500 shares, worth about $431 million.

Put options entitle the holder to sell a security or index at a set price in the future. The options increase in value when the underlying security or index declines.

As Soros cut his stake in Toronto-based Barrick, whose shares surged 57 percent in the second quarter, he bought 240,000 shares of SPDR Gold Trust, an exchange-traded fund that tracks the price of gold. In the first quarter, his firm disclosed owning call options on 1.05 million shares in the ETF.

Soros purchased new stakes in communication firm Rovi Corp., Communications Sales & Leasing Inc. and Activision Blizzard Inc., and boosted its stake in Dish Network Corp.

Soros also increased his holdings in convertible debt, according to the Form 13F. His family office acquired about $180 million worth of FireEye Inc. convertible notes during the second quarter, along with LinkedIn Corp. notes with a market value of $37.7 million. Soros Fund Management also added Novatel Wireless Inc. notes with a market value of $28.8 million during the second quarter, as well as $60.8 million of TiVo Inc. notes, $75.9 million of Pros Holdings Inc. notes, and $23.9 million of Twitter Inc. convertible debt.

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 Soros, declined to comment on the firm’s holdings.

Money managers who oversee more than $100 million in equities in the U.S. 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-U.S. securities, holdings that aren’t publicly traded or cash.

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