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Investment firms took positions on stocks hit by Archegos implosion, Gamestop

FILE PHOTO: Billionaire investor George Soros is awarded the Schumpeter Prize in Vienna

By Maiya Keidan

(Reuters) - Several investment firms purchased shares in ViacomCBS Inc, Baidu and Discovery Inc, which made big market moves linked to the implosion of investment firm Archegos Capital Management, while others on Monday disclosed bets against retail-trading favorite GameStop Corp.

A number of investment managers bet on companies that plummeted when large banks sold them in a hurry amid the collapse of Archegos at the end March.

Other funds used the first quarter to take out put option positions, which are bearish bets, in GameStop. Gamestop was at the center of a battle earlier this year between retail investors who thought the ailing video retailer should trade higher and hedge funds like Melvin Capital, which bet that its stock would fall.

Melvin Capital, which was badly hurt after holding bearish GameStop positions, did not disclose any put positions in its latest filing. Melvin's Gabriel Plotkin in February said he was wary about holding big short positions again.

Regulatory filings show that Soros Fund Management and hedge funds HG Vora Capital Management and Coatue Management entered positions in media stock ViacomCBS Inc after disclosing no holdings in the previous quarter.

The so-called 13F filings do not disclose the date the purchase was made but give a snapshot of what U.S. stocks fund managers owned at the end of the quarter.

Archegos, a family office run by ex-Tiger Asia manager Bill Hwang, was highly exposed to ViacomCBS, leaving the firm to face a huge margin call from its prime broker banks, which in March were forced to sell large blocks of shares of ViacomCBS, media peer Discovery Inc and Chinese search giant Baidu. ViacomCBS plunged 57% in March while Discovery dropped 44% and Baidu fell 30%.

Soros Fund Management, founded by billionaire George Soros, bought $194 million in ViacomCBS shares according to its filing https://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/1029160/000090266421002758/xslForm13F_X01/infotable.xml, while HG Vora picked up $78.9 million and Philippe Laffont's Coatue Management purchased $77.1 million over the same period.

British hedge fund firm Rokos Capital Management, run by former Brevan Howard partner Chris Rokos, also purchased $167.8 million of Baidu stock in the first three months of the year, the filings showed.

Laurion Capital Management added $231.6 million in Baidu over the same period while Soros picked up $77 million and Hong Kong-based activist fund Oasis Management raised its bet in the company by 42% to $46.5 million.

Soros, currently led by Chief Investment Officer Dawn Fitzpatrick, and London-based hedge fund behemoth Marshall Wace both picked up more than 200,000 shares in Discovery after holding no position in the previous quarter.

Many of the investment funds did not hold shares in ViacomCBS, Baidu or Discovery in the previous quarter, showed the filings.

Several hedge funds also disclosed new put options on GameStop Corp over the same period, including Robert Citrone's Discovery Capital Management and Caxton Associates, which bets on macroeconomic events.

Taconic Capital Advisors, Hunting Hill Global Capital and Hudson Bay Capital Management also took similar positions.

Put options, which give the holder the right to sell at a specified price, can be used as a way for a hedge fund to short a stock without using equity markets.

Melvin, which closed its GameStop position earlier in the year with a large loss, did not list the company as one of its positions in its latest filing.

(Reporting by Maiya Keidan in Toronto; Editing by Matthew Lewis, Dan Grebler and Stephen Coates)