Aug. 15 (Bloomberg) -- Billionaire investors George Soros and John Paulson increased their stakes in the biggest exchange- traded fund backed by gold as prices posted the largest quarterly drop since 2008.
Soros Fund Management more than doubled its investment in the SPDR Gold Trust to 884,400 shares as of June 30, compared with three months earlier, a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filing for second-quarter holdings showed yesterday. Paulson & Co. increased its holdings by 26 percent to 21.8 million shares.
Gold slumped 4 percent in the second quarter, the biggest such loss since Sept. 30, 2008. Prices fell as European Central Bank President Mario Draghi and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke failed to increase stimulus measures, damping the outlook for global growth and demand for the metal as a hedge against inflation. The price fell 0.1 percent since June 30 through yesterday.
“It’s all about easing, and people are especially waiting for the Fed since investors expect prices will rise,” if the central bank announces more bond purchases, said Walter “Bucky” Hellwig, who helps manage $17 billion of assets at BB&T Wealth Management in Birmingham, Alabama. “People are willing to hold on to gold to see what the Fed will say.”
The metal surged 70 percent from the end of December 2008 to June 2011 as the Fed kept borrowing costs at a record low and bought $2.3 trillion of debt in two rounds of so-called quantitative easing.
Paulson, 56, who became a billionaire in 2007 by betting against the U.S. subprime mortgage market, lost 23 percent in his Gold Fund through July as lower bullion prices and slumping mining stocks contributed to declines.
Holdings in the SPDR Gold Trust are Paulson’s largest position. He also bought shares of NovaGold Resources Inc. last quarter and sold other stocks, leaving his $21 billion hedge fund with more than 44 percent of its U.S. traded equities tied to bullion.
Paulson’s U.S.-listed holdings peaked at $34.3 billion at the end of March 2011, with about $7.7 billion of that amount, or 23 percent, invested in gold related stocks. He had 33 percent of his U.S. stock holdings in gold-related securities at the end of the first quarter and 25 percent a year ago.
Armel Leslie, a spokesman for Paulson, declined to comment. Michael Vachon, a spokesman for Soros, declined to comment.