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Soros hedge fund bought Petrobras stake worth $811 million

West Palm Beach – Billionaire investor George Soros bought an $811 million stake in Petroleo Brasileiro SA in the second quarter, making the Brazilian state-controlled oil company his investment fund’s largest holding.

As of June 30, the stake in Petrobras, as the Rio de Janeiro-based oil producer is known, made up 22 percent of the $3.68 billion of stocks and American depositary receipts held by Soros Fund Management LLC, according to a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Petrobras has since slumped 28 percent.

Soros has increased his mining and commodities holdings, a move that accelerated in the first quarter with purchases of such companies as Cia. Vale do Rio Doce , the world’s largest iron-ore producer, and Talisman Energy Inc. , a Canadian oil and gas company. In November, Petrobras announced the discovery of Tupi, a field with as much as 8 billion barrels of reserves, making it the largest find in the Americas since 1976.

“Petrobras has something that other oil companies don’t have: oil — lots of it and they’re going to find more,” said Ricardo Kobayashi , equity fund manager with UBS Pactual SA in Rio de Janeiro, which manages about $5 billion of stocks, including shares in Petrobras. “If you can buy now and hang on, if you have the staying power, it’s great.”

Tupi is part of a new deepwater offshore region known as the pre-salt that may contain as much as 50 billion barrels, according to Peter Wells , oil analyst with the U.K.’s Neftex Petroleum Consultants Ltd.

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