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Oct 15, 2015

US and Norwegian investors build on Austrian positions

Ipreo study shows large gain in ATX Prime stock ownership by passive investors in first half

Institutional investors from the US and Norway increased their purchase of stocks on Austria’s all-share ATX Prime Index in the first half of 2015 even as other foreign investors reduced their stakes, further concentrating ownership in the hands of major investor countries, according to a study by market intelligence firm Ipreo.

At the end of the first half, US investors owned 26.4 percent of the free float of Austrian issuers, up from 24.6 percent at the end of 2014, mainly through concentrated buying of some financial stocks, the study shows. Ownership by Austrian institutional investors jumped to 25.8 percent of free float from 19.1 percent at the same time, while Norwegian ownership climbed to 7.1 percent from 6.3 percent.

‘Interestingly, investor appetite from the US in the first half of 2015 was not driven only by the large investment funds,’ the study authors write. ‘The findings show that single-stock investments led by hedge funds such as Lone Pine Capital in Erste Bank significantly influenced the distribution.’

Large traditional investment firms from the US, including BlackRock, State Street Corporation and the Vanguard Group are among major buyers. UK institutional investors, meanwhile, lowered their collective share of the free float to 14.4 percent from 14.7 percent, with major sales by firms such as Silchester, Henderson and Threadneedle.

Free float held by German institutional investors dropped to 4.8 percent from 5.8 percent, France’s stake fell to 5.5 percent from 7 percent and the share held by institutional investors in Switzerland declined to 2.2 percent from 2.7 percent. 

The study also shows outflows from value and growth investors, with investors using a growth investment style lowering their overall stake of the free float to 35.1 percent from 37.5 percent and value investors’ stake falling to 34.2 percent from 35.9 percent. Investors with passive strategies, however, increased their share of the free float to a record 16.1 percent at the end of the first half, from 14.2 percent at the end of last year.

‘The increase in ATX Prime investments comes from both domestic and foreign institutions that run index-linked or enhanced index strategies,’ the study says.