Bets against WHSmith top £100m as George Soros takes short position

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Billionaire George Soros has joined the growing list of investors betting against WH Smith, declaring a £10.5 million short position.

Soros’ British hedge fund SFM UK Management’s latest investment brings the total short positions against WH Smith to over £100 million.

Other British companies betting against WH Smith include hedge fund GLG Partners, which has a similar 0.5 per cent short position to SFM UK.

SFM UK currently has nine publicly declared shorts against British companies including flooring manufacturer Victoria and real estate investment firm New River, accounting for around 40 per cent of its total short positions.

His largest two short positions in the UK are a whopping £30.8 million bet against hazard protection equipment firm Halma, alongside a £16.4 million position against Aston Martin.

In October WH Smith reported it will shut six of its high street stores after conducting a “detailed review” into its high street businesses.

The stationery, book and travel retailer said that profits at its travel arm had risen seven per cent to £103 million in the year ending August 31.

Meanwhile profits in its high street arm had fallen three per cent to £60 million.

The group’s operations have long been a tale of two halves as WH Smith’s travel stores have ramped up international expansion, while its high street stores have struggled to turn a profit against numerous challenges in the UK.

Shares values for the year-to-date have dropped 17 per cent.

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