George Soros is one of the most prominent investors in the world. He is well-known for some of his massive trades. Soros profited to the tune of around $1 billion when he shorted the British pound and broke the Bank of England in 1992. He was a very successful hedge fund manager for a number of years before returning outside money to focus on managing his personal fortune. Soros has also been a major contributor to philanthropic causes over the years.
Soros was born in Hungary to a nonobservant Jewish family. He survived the Nazi occupation of Hungary before immigrating to London where he studied at the London School of Economics. He worked at a number of merchant banks focusing on trading European stocks before founding Soros Fund Management in 1970, which was renamed the Quantum Fund in 1973. The Quantum Fund was extremely profitable. It is estimated the hedge fund made around $40 billion by 2013, making it one of the most successful hedge funds of all time. Soros closed the Quantum Fund to outside investors in 2011 to focus on managing his family’s personal fortune of around $24.5 billion.
Soros Fund Management
Soros still has a substantial amount of his personal fortune in Soros Fund Management. The fund had holdings with a market value of around $6.6 billion as of the third quarter of 2015. The largest position in the fund was in Allergan plc, the generic pharmaceutical company. The fund has around 774,000 shares with a market value of $210 million. It also reduced its position in Facebook in the third quarter of 2015 by around 785,000 shares. It still holds 1.8 million shares with a market value of $162 million.
Soros took the other side of the short bet made on Herbalife by Bill Ackman of Pershing Square Capital Management. While Ackman called the company a fraud and a pyramid scheme, Soros accumulated a sizable number of shares. During the fourth quarter of 2014, Soros owned around 3.4 million shares. He exited the position completely by the third quarter of 2015, likely at a substantial profit as the shares rallied sharply in 2015.
Soros Fund Management has made other investments outside of stock holdings. Soros backed an Argentinian hotel company’s further expansion in South America with around $300 million. He also made a large investment in Manchester United, the English football club, buying around 3.4 million shares in 2012. Soros has since sold a substantial portion of that position.
Soros has given away substantial amounts of money to philanthropic causes during his career. He has generally supported liberal causes with his wealth. Soros began supporting black students to attend the University of Cape Town in South Africa during the 1970s. He has also supported causes backing nonviolent democratization in prior states of the Soviet Union through the Open Society Foundations.
Soros made major gifts in 2007 of around $100 million to support Internet infrastructure for regional Russian universities and $50 million to help eradicate poverty in Africa. Soros has also supported efforts to curb climate change by pledging $1 billion to support renewable energy in 2009 and by founding the Climate Policy Initiative think tank.
Soros has also been active in politics through donations and support. He actively gave money to organizations trying to defeat George W. Bush in the 2004 election. He was a major opponent of the War of Terror. It is estimated Soros donated around $24 million to various organizations seeking to defeat Bush.
Soros gave money to super political action committees (PACs) formed to support Barrack Obama’s re-election campaign. Soros is also a supporter of Hillary Clinton. He has donated substantial sums to super PACs supporting her presidential campaign. Soros has also donated money to various measures supporting drug policy reform.