The star investor in 'The Big Short' has a new short against Barclays - and is ramping up bearish bets on banks

the big shortParamount Pictures

  • Steve Eisman, the hedge-fund manager famous for betting against the US housing market ahead of the 2008 crash, is holding a short position in Barclays.
  • Eisman, was played by Steve Carell in the movie "The Big Short," is a portfolio manager at Neuberger Berman. The fund disclosed the positions in a filing.
  • Neuberger Berman is shorting a swathe of European, Canadian and US banks including Wells Fargo.

Steve Eisman, the hedge-fund manager famous for betting against the US housing market ahead of the 2008 crash, is betting on a share decline in Barclays.

Neuberger Berman on January 31 disclosed that its Absolute Return Multi-Manager Fund is holding a short position against Barclays worth $455,000, or about 219,000 shares. That fund is thought to hold some of Eisman's positions, research firm Breakout Point said.

"Barclays is a new addition to the fund's short portfolio," Breakout Point said.

Eisman, a central figure in the book "The Big Short" who was played by Steve Carell in the 2015 film, already has short positions in other UK banks including Lloyds and RBS. He has come out against the risks of Brexit, having previously suggested that uncertainty around the country's exit from the EU was fuelling his shorts in the country's banks.

"I don't think anybody has any idea what the economic impact of Brexit will be," he has told the BBC, via MarketWatch. "I don't, you don't and all the people who have prognosticated about it, they certainly don't."

The fund is ramping up its bank shorts from the time of the last filings, according to analysis from research firm Breakout Point. Neuberger Berman is boosting its overall bank short position from about $3.3 million to about $5 million. About 30% of this amount is, each, in bets against UK and Canadian banks, while about 35% is in positions in four EU stocks, according to Breakout Point.

A rough time for Barclays

Eisman's short raises more questions about the bank's operations under CEO Jes Staley. The bank is being targeted by activist investor Edward Bramson, whose Sherborne Investors last year announced a more than 5% stake in the bank, with the clearly stated aim of moving Barclays away from a new reliance on investment banking.

Barclays recently dropped a bombshell on Wednesday when its announced its head of the investment banking division, Tim Throsby, is leaving the firm amid a raft of other management moves. And in February, one of the bank's largest backers pulled its stake in the lender.

Canadian and Wells Fargo short

Eisman has recently taken up positions betting against Canadian banks on the expectation that the country's housing market is set to contract.

The filing says Neuberger Berman has short positions in Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, Laurentian Bank of Canada and Royal Bank of Canada and National Bank of Canada.

The fund also reported a short position in US bank Wells Fargo, with the bet valued at about $236,000. Wells Fargo on Thursday announced its CEO Tim Sloan will retire.

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