Grayscale’s Bitcoin ETF proves profitable for hedge funds


  • Hedge funds profited by investing in Grayscale’s Bitcoin Trust (GBTC) before it was approved as an ETF by the SEC.
  • Grayscale fought to convert GBTC into an ETF since 2016, succeeding in January after a legal battle with the SEC.
  • GBTC was trading at a significant discount to its assets before the ETF conversion, attracting hedge fund investments.

Let’s cut to the chase. The financial wizards at a select group of hedge funds are probably patting themselves on the back right now, having placed their bets wisely on Grayscale’s Bitcoin Trust turning ETF magic trick. Yes, you heard that right. Amid the rollercoaster ride that is the crypto market, these hedge fund honchos saw a golden goose in the making between 2021 and 2023. They wagered that the Grayscale Bitcoin Trust (GBTC) would hit the jackpot once the SEC waved its regulatory wand, approving the spot bitcoin ETF. And voila, their foresight paid off.

The Long Road to Grayscale’s ETF Conversion

Grayscale has been on a mission to morph its Bitcoin Trust into an ETF since 2016—a quest fraught with more drama than a daytime soap opera. After facing a thumbs down from the SEC on its latest application, Grayscale didn’t just sulk in a corner; it took the battle to court in 2022. Fast forward to January 11, and the Grayscale Bitcoin Trust (GBTC) emerged from the legal wrangle as a shiny new ETF, following the SEC’s nod to U.S.-listed ETFs tracking bitcoin.

But let’s not gloss over the nail-biting period leading up to this transformation. Grayscale’s trust was languishing at a nearly 50% discount to its underlying assets in December 2022, thanks to the cataclysmic collapse of the FTX exchange. Yet, for the hedge fund high rollers, this was not a deterrent but an opportunity to double down on their bets.

Hedge Funds Cash In

As the courts ruled in favor of Grayscale in August 2023, the discount on GBTC began to shrink, much to the delight of around 20 hedge funds that had entered this high-stakes game. These ranged from the heavyweights to the nimble boutiques, all sharing a common trait: a nose for an exceptional deal.

Take Fir Tree Partners, for instance, managing a cool $3 billion. They jumped into the fray in the last quarter of 2022, seizing on GBTC’s 42% discount. Their $60 million wager on this price anomaly began to pay dividends as they started unwinding their position post the court’s favorable decision, wrapping up their exit by January after the ETF received regulatory blessings.

Hunting Hill was another player that didn’t let the 42% discount pass by unnoticed. They closed their position as the discount tightened to a mere 7%. Then there’s the unnamed U.S.-based macro hedge fund founder who called the court ruling “the trade of a century.” Talk about confidence!

However, it’s not all rainbows and unicorns in the aftermath. Despite the initial triumph, Grayscale’s ETF debut has been anything but smooth, with outflows hitting $4.77 billion since its launch, trimming its assets down to $20.4 billion. It seems not every hedge fund is keen on sticking around for the next act, as many are leading the charge in the GBTC exodus.

Despite this, for hedge funds like Aristides Capital, the foray into GBTC was nothing short of a bonanza. With an initial investment of around $20 million at a 30% discount, the firm has mostly cashed out, with plans to exit entirely in the near future. For them, the allure of the spot bitcoin ETF doesn’t hold a candle to the thrill of the trade they just pulled off.

In the grand scheme of things, the Grayscale Bitcoin ETF saga is a testament to the hedge funds’ shrewdness, riding the waves of regulatory uncertainty and market volatility to emerge on the profitable side. It’s a high-stakes game where timing, nerve, and a bit of luck can turn the tables in your favor, or leave you wishing you’d never played.

Disclaimer: The information provided is not trading advice. Cryptopolitan.com holds no liability for any investments made based on the information provided on this page. We strongly recommend independent research and/or consultation with a qualified professional before making any investment decision.

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Jai Hamid

Jai Hamid is a passionate writer with a keen interest in blockchain technology, the global economy, and literature. She dedicates most of her time to exploring the transformative potential of crypto and the dynamics of worldwide economic trends.

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