September 18, 2018 / 2:52 PM / 10 months ago

Hedge fund shorts on Danske Bank hit 11-month high before money laundering report

LONDON/COPENHAGEN, Sept 18 (Reuters) - Short positions on Danske Bank shares hit an 11-month high on Monday, rising 46 percent from Friday, data from industry tracker FIS’ Astec Analytics showed.

The rise to 1.9 million shares out on loan, from 1.3 million on Friday, comes ahead of a report which Danske Bank is due to publish on Wednesday on how billions of euros from Russia and ex-Soviet states flowed through its accounts in Estonia.

Hedge funds ‘short’ a company’s stock when they think that the price will fall. They do this by borrowing its shares from an institutional investor and selling them back at a profit when they lose value.

Investor uncertainty has seen a third of Danske Bank’s stock market value wiped out in the last six months, mainly driven by fears of the involvement of U.S. authorities such as the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

The Wall Street Journal has reported that the United States is probing the case as many of the transactions under review were processed in dollars.

“The short thesis has been pretty persuasive for some time,” Sohail Malik, co-founder at London-based Roxbury Asset Management, said, adding that there was a risk of contagion.

However, another British hedge fund manager said the stock had fallen too low and Danske was a profitable bank with depth of talent. “I think (it is) too late to short,” he said. (Reporting by Maiya Keidan Editing by Alexander Smith)

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