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Bigtime Investors Lose Big on China

Maybe the highest-profile of the high-profile funds to take a significant stake in a company later attacked, John Paulson's Paulson & Co. owned nearly 35 million shares of Sino-Forest, or 14% of the company, as of October 2010, before dumping the entire position recently. According to some reports, the vaunted manager may have taken a loss of more than half a billion dollars.

Sino-Forest denied allegations that it has overstated the size of its timber holdings, first lodged at the end of May by the infamous short-selling research shop Muddy Waters. A recent investigative report on Sino-Forest by Canada's Globe & Mail newspaper also had damning information to report.

Paulson's firm, which has an office in Hong Kong, started amassing its position as early as 2008. At its peak, on March 31, when Sino-Forest touched its all-time high of $25.85, the stake would have been worth about $880 million. In Toronto trading recently, the shares were moving at about $2.50.

A Paulson & Co. spokesman said the firm wouldn't comment.
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