World's richest family betting on munis, Japanese stocks, Coinbase

World's richest family betting on munis, Japanese stocks, Coinbase
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(May 14): An investment firm for the Walton family ramped up its position in a US municipal bond fund and added a sizeable stake in Japanese equities, while also betting on small-cap stocks and Coinbase Global Inc before tumultuous declines. 

WIT LLC, an acronym for the Walton Investment Team, invests mostly in low-cost exchange-traded funds (ETFs). It held about US$5.1 billion (about RM22.43 billion) in US stocks and ETFs at the end of last quarter, a filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) showed on Friday (May 13). 

The firm, which oversees money for the world’s wealthiest family, added 3.9 million shares in the iShares MSCI Japan ETF worth about US$239.3 million, its biggest new stake and its fifth-largest overall. WIT also bought about US$150 million in small-cap stocks through new positions in Vanguard and iShares index funds. The largest holding is the Vanguard FTSE Emerging Markets ETF, which was worth US$1.6 billion at the end of the quarter even after it was whittled down.

Its next two largest stakes are in debt funds: the Vanguard Short-Term Treasury ETF and the iShares Short-Term National Muni Bond ETF. WIT added to both positions in the first quarter as front-end yields surged on expectations of accelerated US Federal Reserve interest-rate increases. 

While the vast majority of the positions are in index funds, WIT also acquired US$15 million of Coinbase, the cryptocurrency exchange whose shares have tumbled 73% this year, and 64% since March 31.

The Walton family’s fortune is estimated to be in excess of US$200 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. About half of that is tied to Walmart Inc, the company founded by Sam Walton in 1950. 

SEC rules require investors managing more than US$100 million in US equities to disclose their holdings, though family offices can appeal to keep these documents confidential.