NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- George Soros said this week that he is ready to pour $1 billion in Ukraine -- as long as the West would do "whatever it takes" to rescue the war-ravaged country. With a $24 billion personal fortune, he can certainly afford it.
Soros has become an increasingly vocal figure in the Russia-Ukraine conflict, insisting the rest of Europe come to Ukraine's aid and, in a November essay, that the continent "wake up." In January, he warned of a potential Russia default, and the Irish Times reports he recently called Europe's handling of the situation a "terrible, terrible mistake." He's also been talking about Greece, which in a Bloomberg Television interview last week he called a "lose-lose game."
Soros is originally from Europe, of course, and now he may be shifting many of his investments there.
The self-made billionaire was born in Budapest and studied in London before getting into business. In the 1990s, he was dubbed "the man who broke the Bank of England" after in 1992 netting over a billion dollars on the devaluation of the British pound. When betting against the currency, he told an associate to "go for the jugular."
Soros has calmed down quite a bit since. In 2011, he stopped managing clients' money, and this January he reportedly retired for good. His fund, Soros Fund Management, still bears his moniker, and there's no doubt the billionaire -- who is said to base some of his investment decisions on back pain -- is well aware of, and likely involved in, where its funds are directed.
Soros Fund Management's most recent 13F filing, corresponding to the fourth quarter, indicates a clear shift toward European companies. The firm exited big positions in Intel Corp. (INTC - Get Report) , Apple (AAPL - Get Report) and Citrix Systems (CTXS - Get Report) at the end of the year, swapping them for stakes in Netherlands-based LyondellBasell Industries (LYB - Get Report) and Dublin-based Endo International (ENDP - Get Report).
The billionaire's fund's top three positions are based outside the U.S. and Europe. Its holdings in these companies totaled $1.05 billion at the end of the fourth quarter -- roughly the same amount Soros may be looking to put into Ukraine.
Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba (BABA - Get Report) is Soros' top public equity position, valued at $457 million at the end of the fourth quarter. Soros isn't the only billionaire betting on "Baba" -- Dan Loeb's Third Point holds 10 million of the company's shares, worth nearly $840 million, and John Paulson's firm has 1.93 million shares.
The fund's No. 2 public equity holding is YPF (YPF - Get Report), an oil and gas company based in Argentina. The country moved to renationalize YPF in 2012, seizing a majority stake from Spain's Repsol. While Argentina's instability may make some investors wary, it hasn't kept Soros away. As of his firms most recent 13F filing, he holds 11.65 million shares, a stake valued at $308 million at the end of 2014.
Israel's Teva Pharmaceuticals (TEVA - Get Report) is Soros Fund Managament's third most significant holding, its position valued at $279 million as of December 31. The pharmaceutical company made headlines this week after announcing plans to acquire Auspex Pharmaceuticals (ASPX) in a $3.5 billion deal.
Backing Out of U.S.
Foreign investments aside, there are two other things worth noting about George Soros' recent moves. First, his fund is scaling back U.S. equity exposure. Second, it has significantly downsized its bearish S&P 500 bet.
The total value of the Soros fund's public equity portfolio dropped significantly at the end of the year. It reported more than $13 billion in equity investments in the second and third quarters of 2014, but by the end of the fourth quarter, it was only investing $9 billion in U.S. equities.
Also worth noting is the slashed put position in the SPDR S&P 500 ETF (SPY - Get Report). The bearish bet on the market had journalists and analysts buzzing throughout much of last year that the billionaire's fund was prepping for a market drop. In the second quarter of the year, Soros' public equity portfolio reflected a 16.65% allocation in a put against the S&P, and in the third quarter, a 12.5% allocation. By the end of the fourth quarter, the stake had dropped to about 1.8%.
Instead of betting against the market, Soros Management has maneuvered to take some of its chips off of the table instead.