Swiss National Bank Beefs Up Stake In Apple Inc.


Even a staid banking institution like the Swiss National Bank is getting in on the Apple craze. SNB has held a good-sized stake in the iPhone maker for some time, almost 9 million shares as of March. In the most recent SEC reporting period, however, SNB added another 500,000 plus shares of Apple, bringing its total stake to more than 9.4 million shares. This represents around a 5.5% increase in its stake in the tech giant.

While 9.4 million shares might sound like a huge stake in Apple, it really isn’t as the firm recently split at 7 to 1 (and had already split three times earlier). Asset managers Vanguard, State Street, FMR and Blackrock all hold more than 100 million shares of Apple, with Vanguard being the current top shareholder at just under 327 million shares.

An SNB spokesperson had no comment on the filing or the notable increase in the bank’s stake in Apple.

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More on the Swiss National Bank

SNB also boosted its holdings in Exxon by 3.6% in the quarter, while Microsoft Corp. totaled up a 4.8% increase. Of interest, including Apple, those three firms were SNB’s biggest U.S. investments as of the end of June, with the software maker moving past pharma major Johnson & Johnson for third place.

SNB is perhaps the only major central banks that makes significant equity investments. The bank had 516 billion francs ($526 billion) of foreign exchange reserves as of June 30th, with the cash piling up due to interventions to defend the currency cap of 1.20 Swiss francs per euro it had in place from 2011 to February of 2015. Just over 17% of SNB’s foreign reserves were invested in equities at the end of June.

The SEC filing showed that the SNB was holding shares in a mind-boggling 2,500 U.S.-listed companies, with the total portfolio valued at $38.6 billion. Last quarter, SNB’s U.S. shares were valued at $37.5 billion.

The central bank of Switzerland keeps the large majority of its foreign exchange reserves in blue chip government bonds worldwide. No other details are available, but according to the SNB’s 2014 annual report, the bank was holding a global equity portfolio of more 5,800 separate publicly listed stocks.