* Paulson kept 21.8 million shares in SPDR Gold Trust
* Stake results in paper loss of about $215 mln as gold price slips
By Frank Tang
NEW YORK, Feb 14 (Reuters) - Prominent hedge fund manager John Paulson continued to hold a significant stake in gold investments in the fourth quarter of 2012, a boost to bullion's appeal as a hedge against currency devaluation and economic uncertainty.
Paulson & Co owned 21.8 million shares in the world's largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund SPDR Gold Trust at the end of December, unchanged from his stake on Sept. 30, a filing with the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission showed on Thursday.
His bet, however on gold resulted in a paper loss of $215.5 million for his hedge fund as the value of its SPDR ETF holdings dropped to $3.54 billion from $3.75 billion. The decline was due to a 5 percent, or $100, drop in the price of spot gold during the fourth quarter.
Paulson has, to date, been the biggest holder of SPDR shares. He has often championed gold investment to offset risks related to currency exposure.
Besides the gold ETF, Paulson's firm continues to hold significant stakes in shares of gold mining companies including Barrick Gold Corp and AngloGold Ashanti Ltd.