Hedge funds target insurers

The Australian – Some of the City of London’s shrewdest hedge fund investors, who made millions of pounds betting that UK bank shares would fall, have turned their guns on insurers amid heightened worry about the financial strength of the sector

Lansdowne Partners, which spent three years gambling on the collapse of Northern Rock, and made huge profits when the bet paid off in the fourth year, has gambled tens of millions that the share prices of four household-name insurance companies will fall.

Lansdowne, founded in 1998 by Paul Ruddock and Steven Heinz, has disclosed that it had a short position in Prudential, Britain’s No 2 insurer, worth about £10.5 million ($24 billion); a £26.2 million bet against Aviva, owner of Norwich Union; and further gambles against Legal & General (L&G) and Old Mutual. With the exception of the Pru, insurers’ shares have continued to fall.

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