Soros Bets on Wood’s ARK Fund, iShares ETFs

Billionaire investor buys options to purchase ARKK, SPY and sell others.

RonDay
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Managing Editor
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Reviewed by: Ron Day
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Edited by: Ron Day

The family office of billionaire George Soros purchased options permitting it to buy shares of Cathie Wood’s ARK Innovation ETF (ARKK) as well as a handful of other exchange-traded funds including the SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust (SPY).  

Soros Fund Management bought 500,000 call options, valued at $15.6 million, according to the 13F filed this month with the Securities and Exchange Commission, which lists the fund’s holdings as of the end of the fourth quarter. Call options are contracts that permit the fund to buy ARKK shares at a set price, which isn’t included in the filing. 

The filing also showed the fund owned $46 million in SPY, or 120,182 shares, some presumably purchased using the 300,000 call options that were listed in the third-quarter 13F. The Soros fund still owned 100,000 SPY calls and 375,000 puts—or options to sell shares—at the end of the fourth quarter. 

Had Soros bought ARKK shares this year—the filing doesn’t say—the investment stood to yield a handsome profit. ARKK, which became popular for soaring in the year after the pandemic, before plummeting last year as inflation and interest rates rose, has gained 38% year to date, far outpacing the 8.3% gain in SPY.  

ARKK brought in $119.5 million on Feb. 14, the day after the fourth-quarter 13F was filed. 

The filing indicated the fund investing in a handful of iShares ETFs as well as one from Vanguard. 

Soros’ biggest iShares holding was 2.42 million shares, valued at $255 million, in the iShares iBoxx USD Investment Grade Corporate Bond ETF (LQD). Soros also owned 1 million put options in LQD worth $105.4 million. LQD is up 2.3% this year. 

The fund also held 2 million contracts, enabling it to sell the iShares iBoxx USD High Yield Corporate Bond ETF (HYG), worth $147.3 million. The filing additionally listed contracts worth $70.8 million, enabling it to sell the iShares Trust - China Large-Cap ETF (FXI)

The Vanguard investment consisted of 168,100 shares of the Vanguard Total World Stock ETF (VT) valued at $13.9 million at the time of the filing. That fund has gained 8.3% this year.  

 

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Ron Day is Managing Editor at etf.com. He joined the company in October 2022 and previously served as editor and deputy managing editor.

Ron covered business and financial news at Bloomberg News for 20 years, working on the breaking news, technology, commodities, headlines and First Word teams. He was previously senior editor at ESG news outlet Karma Impact and filled the same role at Boundless Impact. He also covered a variety of beats at New Jersey daily papers including the Daily Record in Parsippany, the North Jersey Herald & News and the Asbury Park Press. Ron's freelance work has been published in AARP.com, Investopedia.com and BigThink.com.

Ron is an advocate and fan of literacy. He hopes to one day master his Telecaster, rather than the other way around. His wonderful family includes a 10-lb. malti-poo named Emmy.