London/Hong Kong: George Soros, the billionaire who forged his reputation on a 1992 bet that the UK would devalue the pound, was “long" the currency before Britain’s historic vote to leave the European Union (EU) on Friday.

Soros didn’t “speculate against sterling while he was arguing for Britain to remain in the European Union," a spokesman said in an e-mailed statement on Monday. “Because of his generally bearish outlook on world markets," Soros did profit from other investments, according to the statement.

In the days before the vote that marked a rupture between the UK and the EU, Soros had warned that the pound may slump more than 20% against the dollar as voters were grossly underestimating the true cost of Brexit. Sterling plunged by a record on Friday, and tumbled again on Monday.

“Now the catastrophic scenario that many feared has materialized, making the disintegration of the EU practically irreversible," Soros wrote in a 25 June essay reflecting on the UK vote for the Project Syndicate.

Soros rose to fame as the money manager who broke the Bank of England in 1992, netting a profit of $1 billion with a wager that the UK would be forced to devalue the pound and pull it from the European Exchange Rate Mechanism. Soros said in an opinion piece last week in the UK’s Guardian newspaper that he was “fortunate" to make a substantial profit for his hedge-fund investors at the expense of the BOE and the British government. Bloomberg

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