Paulson & Co holds onto gold pile in fourth quarter

NEW YORK (REUTERS) - Prominent hedge fund manager John Paulson continued to hold a significant stake in gold investments in the fourth quarter of last year, a boost to bullion's appeal as a hedge against currency devaluation and economic uncertainty.

Paulson & Co owned 21.8 million shares in the world's largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund SPDR Gold Trust at the end of December, unchanged from his stake on Sept 30, a filing with the US Securities & Exchange Commission showed on Thursday.

His bet, however on gold resulted in a paper loss of US$215.5 million (S$266.3 million) for his hedge fund as the value of its SPDR ETF holdings dropped to US$3.54 billion from US$3.75 billion. The decline was due to a 5 per cent, or US$100, drop in the price of spot gold during the fourth quarter.

Mr Paulson has, to date, been the biggest holder of SPDR shares. He has often championed gold investment to offset risks related to currency exposure.

Besides the gold ETF, Mr Paulson's firm continues to hold significant stakes in shares of gold mining companies including Barrick Gold and AngloGold Ashanti.

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