Ex-Tiger Asia manager Bill Hwang behind big ViacomCBS, Discovery selloff

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Ex-Tiger Asia manager Bill Hwang behind big ViacomCBS, Discovery selloff


One mystery in a dramatic year on Wall Street has been the identity of a trader whose persistent purchases have sent shares in ViacomCBS Inc.
VIAC,
-27.31%
,
Discovery Inc.
DISCA,
-27.45%

and a handful of other companies surging even when the broader market was down.

People familiar with the transactions say the answer is former Tiger Asia manager Bill Hwang. Late last week Morgan Stanley
MS,
-0.19%
,
Goldman Sachs Group Inc.
GS,
-0.96%

and Deutsche Bank AG
DB,
+0.08%

swiftly unloaded large blocks of shares in those companies and others, part of the liquidation of positions at Hwang’s Archegos Capital Management.

Read: Stock-market traders fixated on what ‘unprecedented’ Discovery, ViacomCBS selloff means for Wall Street

The sales approached $30 billion in value, some of the people said, and fueled a 27% plunge Friday in shares of ViacomCBS — an unusually large decline in a widely held, large-capitalization stock on a day with no significant company specific news. Billions of market value in other companies were wiped out as the sales continued, surprising market participants who called the size and speed of these stock sales unprecedented.

The liquidations appear to have left Archegos, which managed an estimated $10 billion of personal wealth for Hwang and his family, under extreme pressure following heavy losses. People close to the stock sales said that the bulk of the selling has been completed.

The losses mark the latest public setback for the publicity-shy Hwang, who is best known for his prior firm, Tiger Asia Management LLC, in 2012 pleading guilty to a criminal fraud charge. Tiger Asia also agreed to pay $44 million to settle civil allegations by U.S. securities regulators that it engaged in insider trading of Chinese bank stocks.

An expanded version of this report appears on WSJ.com.

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