George Soros, the billionaire investor, has bought a 4% stake in the Bombay Stock Exchange, one of the oldest bourses in Asia, news agencies reported today.

Soros, the world's 29th richest person, has acquired the stake through his Quantum hedge fund from Dubai Financial, Dow Jones reported, quoting the exchange spokesman. Dubai Financial is owned by the Emirates ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum.

According to Reuters, the 4% holding in BSE was purchased for about $35 million, valuing the bourse at around $875 million. He paid Rs 375-380/share in BSE. Officials from Quantum and Dubai Financial weren't immediately available for comment, Dow Jones reported.

BSE, established in 1875, has more than 4,900 listed companies. As on June 18, 2010, the public shareholding in the exchange stood at 56.37%. The rest was owned by trading members and their associates, according to data on the BSE website. Rules in India restrict foreign investors from holding stakes of more than 5% in local exchanges. Among other foreign shareholders are the Deutsche Boerse and the Singapore Stock Exchange which own 5% stake each in BSE.

In May, Canadian fund manager Urbana Corp had bought 331,000 shares in the exchange at Rs 370 a share, raising its holding to 2.6%. US-based philanthropist George Kaiser also holds around 4% of the exchange through his investment firm Argonaut Ventures.

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