Hedge fund Bridgewater places $15 billion in bets against Europe and UK

LONDON (Reuters) - Hedge fund behemoth Bridgewater has shown its hand in Europe with roughly $15 billion in bets against companies on the continent and in Great Britain, filings reviewed by Reuters show.

The world’s biggest hedge fund manager’s short positions amount to more than $5.3 billion in France and $4.7 billion in Germany, while in Spain its shorts add up to almost $1.4 billion and $821 million in three Italian companies.

In the Netherlands, Bridgewater amassed $2.7 billion in short positions compared with just one new bet of $176.3 million made against a British company, building materials business CRH CRH.I.

Hedge funds engage in the practice of ‘shorting’ by borrowing a stock from an institutional investor, such as a pension plan, and selling it back at a profit when the price drops.

Billionaire investor Ray Dalio, whose main hedge fund Bridgewater Associates LP fell sharply amid the coronavirus market slump on Monday, said in a note that he was concerned about the combination of a zero interest rate policy and the growing health pandemic.

The European filings show Bridgewater has bet against firms ranging from Dutch chip maker ASML Holding ASML.AS to France's biggest bank BNP Paribas BNPP.PA and German industrial group Siemens SIEGn.DE.

Data was not available to show whether Bridgewater, which has $160 billion in assets under management, holds more European stocks than it shorts.

“Though we won’t comment on our specific positions, Bridgewater trades in more than 150 markets around the world and as such has many interrelated positions, often to hedge other positions, and these change often,” said a spokeswoman for Bridgewater.

“So it would be incorrect to look at any one position at any one time to try to determine an overall strategy.”

Reporting by Maiya Keidan, additional reporting by Lawrence Delevingne in New York; Editing by Hugh Lawson