Odey's BSkyB bet loses £60m in little over a week

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The Independent Online

Crispin Odey has lost about £60m since the start of last week on his stake in BSkyB – a holding he continued to increase after the phone-hacking scandal sent the shares falling

Mr Odey, one of London's top hedge fund managers, now holds 2.78 per cent of BSkyB including derivatives – his biggest stake yet in the company he has bet on since News Corp made its first approach for the broadcaster.

At the start of last week, Mr Odey's declared interest in BSkyB was just over 40 million shares, excluding derivatives. At 849p a share that stake was worth £339.6m.

By the end of trading on Monday this week, the value of the stake had dropped to £282m as investors fretted that News Corp's bid would fail.

However, he continued to buy shares and spent another £37m last week, declaring that they were a bargain and that he did not want Rupert Murdoch to buy BSkyB "on the cheap". Those shares have now lost about £3m.

On Tuesday, Mr Odey declared another purchase, of 1.68 million shares. He is in the money on those to the tune of about £76,000 at yesterday's closing share price of 705.5p.

Mr Odey, who was once married to Mr Murdoch's eldest daughter Prudence, said earlier this week he backed BSkyB's business model but that he did not want the bid to go away.

He famously made a fortune by betting against Britain's banks as they came near to collapse and then buying back in before the shares recovered.

It remains to be seen whether his backing for BSkyB turns out to be quite so successful now that News Corp has pulled its bid for the company. Mr Odey has held the company's shares for many years.

Last year, he paid himself £36m and his wealth is estimated to have jumped by £156m to £453m.