Citadel’s Silver Bet Exposes Rifts in the WallStreetBets Army

(Bloomberg) — Ken Griffin’s Citadel has once again found itself at the center of a WallStreetBets drama, this time over the firm’s holdings of silver.

The precious metal has become a popular buying target for retail investors who want to inflict losses on hedge funds, after posts on WallStreetBets claimed the market was ripe for a short squeeze. Others in the Reddit forum have responded with pleas to avoid the trade, saying Citadel stands to benefit as a major holder of the largest silver exchange-traded fund.

“CITADEL IS THE 5TH LARGEST OWNER OF SLV,” one WallStreetBets user wrote on Sunday, referring to the iShares trust’s ticker symbol. “IT’S IMPERATIVE WE DO NOT ‘SQUEEZE’ IT.”

Citadel Advisors LLC owned about 6 million shares of the iShares Silver Trust (NYSE:) as of Sept. 30, equivalent to a 0.93% stake, data compiled by Bloomberg show. The firm also held shares in at least 17 other silver companies and ETFs.

While WallStreetBets users have stunned the world by banding together to fuel epic gains in heavily shorted stocks including GameStop Corp (NYSE:)., the debate over silver highlights that traders in the forum are far from a homogeneous group. Investors have been watching the metal’s rally for clues on the staying power of a David-vs-Goliath buying spree that’s spreading to ever-bigger targets.

jumped more than 10% on Monday, but the gains are so far tiny relative to GameStop’s 16-fold surge since mid-January.

Read more: Silver Spikes as Retail Investors Swarm Their Biggest Target Yet

A phone call to Citadel’s Chicago office outside regular business hours went unanswered. It’s unclear whether the firm’s holdings of iShares Silver Trust or other silver-related securities have changed since September. Inflows into the iShares trust surged by a record $944 million on Friday as trading in the ETF soared.

Citadel runs one of the largest hedge funds and one of the biggest market makers in the world. The firm drew the ire of the WallStreetBets crowd last month after it injected cash into hedge fund Melvin Capital, which lost about 53% in January after being hit by a short squeeze on shares including GameStop.

Anger toward Citadel among WallStreetBets users only increased after Robinhood Markets imposed curbs on trading GameStop last week. Some alleged that Griffin, whose firm helps execute orders from Robinhood customers, might be behind an attempt to stamp out the rebellion of individual investors. Citadel and Robinhood both denied any involvement by the billionaire in the decision.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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