Large block trades tied to Archegos raise worries about trading this week

Large block trades tied to Archegos raise worries about trading this week

Large block trades tied to Archegos raise worries about trading this week © Reuters. People are seen on Wall St. outside the NYSE in New York

(Reuters) – A number of large block trades on Friday, which investors said caused big drops in the stocks of a clutch of companies, were linked to the Archegos Capital investment fund, a source familiar with the situation said, with the moves raising worries about volatile trading in the coming days.

Shares in ViacomCBS (NASDAQ:VIAC) and Discovery (NASDAQ:DISCA) tumbled around 27% each on Friday, while U.S.-listed shares of China-based Baidu and Tencent Music plunged during the week, dropping as much as 33.5% and 48.5%, respectively, from Tuesday's closing levels. Baidu was trading slightly lower in Hong Kong at the open.

Investors and analysts cited blocks of Viacom and Discovery shares being put in the market on Friday for likely exacerbating the decline in those stocks. Viacom was also downgraded by Wells Fargo (NYSE:WFC) on Friday.

The block trades were linked to sales of holdings by Archegos, a source familiar with the situation said, confirming reports elsewhere. CNBC reported https://www.cnbc.com/2021/03/27/archegos-capital-forced-position-liquidation-contributes-to-viacom-discovery-plunge.html on Saturday that the selling pressure was due to liquidation of positions by family office Archegos Capital Management, citing a source with direct knowledge of the situation. The link with Archegos was also earlier reported by IPO Edge http://ipo-edge.com/2021/03/26/exclusive-tiger-cub-archegos-liquidation-triggers-record-crash-in-discovery-viacomcbs-sources.

A person at Archegos who answered the phone on Saturday declined to comment. Archegos was founded by Bill Hwang, who founded and ran Tiger Asia from 2001 to 2012, when he renamed it Archegos Capital and made it a family office, according to a page capture https://web.archive.org/web/20210124211426/https://www.archegoscapital.com/management of the fund's website. Tiger Asia was a Hong Kong-based fund https://www.reuters.com/article/togerasia-hedgefund/update-1-hedge-fund-tiger-asia-to-return-investor-money-idUKL4E8JE2XP20120814 that sought to profit on bets on securities in Asia.

Prior to starting Tiger Asia, Hwang was an equity analyst for Tiger Management according to Archegos' website https://web.archive.org/web/20210124211426/https://www.archegoscapital.com/management. Tiger Management, run by Julian Robertson, was a hugely successful hedge fund, which returned investor money and shut https://www.reuters.com/article/instant-article/idUSKCN1HC2XV in 2000.

Hwang in 2012 settled https://www.reuters.com/article/us-crime-insidertrading-tiger/tiger-cub-manager-pleads-guilty-in-insider-trading-case-idUSBRE8BB1RG20121212 insider trading charges by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission according to a press release https://www.sec.gov/news/press-release/2012-2012-264htm at the time. He and his firms at the time agreed to pay $44 million to settle, according to the release.

VOLATILITY CONCERNS

Some market participants said last week's wild moves were likely to make investors increasingly cautious.

"It's insane," said Edward Moya, senior market analyst at OANDA. "When you consider how some of these companies have skyrocketed over the last few months, there will be concerns that we are over-levered."

Other market participants said potential unwinds would only have a limited impact on broader markets. The Nasdaq Composite and S&P 500 both surged over 1% on Friday despite the sharp selloffs in Viacom and other stocks.

"These stories around fund liquidations happen from time to time," said Michael Antonelli, market strategist at Baird. "Some of the names where big blocks were traded on Friday might see some near-term volatility as traders wonder whether the selling is complete."

Mike O'Rourke, chief market strategist at JonesTrading said he expected the trades to "largely be done."

"The prime brokers made lots of noise in marketing these blocks," O'Rourke said. "They knocked the stocks down aggressively in order to get the trades done."

O'Rourke added that prime brokers typically go long the remnants of the position, and he expected most of the names involved in the block trades to be "gapping up significantly higher" in premarket trading.

In more potentially unnerving news for investors, Japan's Nomura Holdings (NYSE:NMR) Inc on Monday flagged a potential $2 billion loss at a U.S. subsidiary although traders were not clear whether it was related to Archegos.

BANKS INVOLVED

A number of banks were involved in the block sales. A source familiar with the matter said on Saturday that Goldman Sachs Group Inc (NYSE:GS) was involved in the large blocktrades. The Financial Times reported that Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS) sold $4billion worth of shares early on Friday, followed by another$4 billion in the afternoon.

A source familiar with the matter said Deutsche Bank (DE:DBKGn) was involved with the block trades as well. Bloomberg and the Financial Times on Saturday reported thatGoldman liquidated more than $10 billion worth of stocks in the block trades. An email to clients seen by Bloomberg News https://bloom.bg/3lYOrZm said Goldman sold$6.6 billion worth of shares of Baidu Inc (NASDAQ:BIDU) , Tencent Music Entertainment Group (NYSE:TME) and Vipshop (NYSE:VIPS) Holdings Ltd, before the U.S. market opened on Friday, the Bloomberg report on Saturday said. Following this, Goldman sold $3.9 billion worth of shares inViacomCBS Inc, Discovery Inc, Farfetch (NYSE:FTCH) Ltd, iQIYI Inc and GSX Techedu (NYSE:GSX) Inc, according to the report.

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