(Bloomberg) -- Ray Dalio’s Bridgewater Associates has built a $10.5 billion bet against European companies, almost doubling its wager in the past week to its most bearish stance against the region’s stocks in two years.
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The world’s biggest hedge fund firm disclosed short bets against 28 companies that include individual wagers of more than $500 million against ASML Holding NV, TotalEnergies SE, Sanofi and SAP SE, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The total bet is up from $5.7 billion against 18 firms last week, the data shows.
All the companies that Bridgewater is shorting are part of the Euro Stoxx 50 index. The move comes as Euro-area economic expansion slows sharply amid surging prices and Germany warns that high gas prices could trigger a collapse in energy markets, drawing a parallel to the role of Lehman Brothers in triggering the financial crisis.
Short sellers try to profit from declining stock prices by selling borrowed shares and buying them back when they fall. They are mounting their bets at a time of rising interest rates and inflation that are increasing the chances of recession. It’s not clear whether Bridgewater’s bets are aimed at pure profit or part of a broader hedging strategy.
A spokesperson for the firm, which manages about $150 billion, wasn’t immediately available for a comment outside of business hours.
In a Bloomberg TV interview last week, Greg Jensen, the co-chief investment officer of the firm, said the sell-off in stocks was still small as compared to the rally they had seen over the last decade and that bigger moves in Europe and the US was still possible. He declined to comment on Bridgewater’s European bets.
An indicator for Euro-area economic activity by S&P Global fell to a 16-month low in June, driven by rampant inflation, concerns over energy and rising borrowing costs.
Russia’s war in Ukraine has sent the cost of energy and many staples soaring. With energy suppliers taking losses by being forced to cover volumes at high prices, there’s a danger of a spillover effect for local utilities and their customers, including consumers and businesses, Germany’s Economy Minister Robert Habeck said Thursday after raising the country’s gas risk level to the second-highest “alarm” phase.
Bridgewater’s current wagers are the highest since the firm built a $14 billion position against European companies in 2020 and before that, a $22 billion bet in 2018. The total may be even greater since hedge funds are only required to disclose their biggest bets.
(Updates with Germany’s gas market warning in the third and eighth paragraphs)
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