Laser Digital Launches First Bitcoin Fund
Posted by Colin Lambert. Last updated: September 20, 2023
With The Full FX View
Nomura’s digital asset’s subsidiary, Laser Digital, has launched its first Bitcoin fund, which it says will provide a seamless way for institutional investors to access the digital asset class.
The Bitcoin Adoption Fund, which will provide long-only exposure to Bitcoin, will be the first in a range of digital adoption investment solutions that Laser Digital Asset Management will bring to the market, the firm says.
To secure the fund’s assets, Laser will use Komainu, which was founded in 2018 by Nomura, Ledger and Coinshares and delivers a regulated custody solution for institutional digital asset investors. The Fund is a segregated portfolio part of Laser Digital Funds SPC, a Segregated Portfolio Company registered as a mutual fund with CIMA (Cayman Islands Regulatory Authority).
Laser Digital Asset Management is led by Sebastian Guglietta, who was previously Nomura’s chief scientist officer, prior to which he was a portfolio manager and senior scientist at Brevan Howard. He has over 25 years of experience in the domain of systematic investment strategies, derivatives and macro trading.
Fiona King, head of distribution, joined Laser from Nickel Digital Asset Management, where she was global head of institutional business, prior to which she was at Bank of America Merrill Lynch responsible for its UCITS alternative platform.
“Technology is a key driver of global economic growth and is transforming a large part of the economy from analogue to digital,” says Guglietta. “Bitcoin is one of the enablers of this long-lasting transformational change and long-term exposure to Bitcoin offers a solution to investors to capture this macro trend.”
King adds, “We’re delighted to now launch our Bitcoin adoption fund, which allows institutional investors a secure path into digital asset investment that is backed by established finance, with the highest levels of risk management and compliance.”
The Full FX View
The words that stand out in this announcement are “long only”. If, indeed, Bitcoin is a currency, then surely a sensible trading strategy would involve the ability to short it? This suggests that Laser Digital, and by association Nomura, is very much thinking of Bitcoin as an investment vehicle, much like equities.
In turn, this would feed the SEC’s argument in the US over who should regulate Bitcoin and digital assets more generally, which may not be – given the SEC’s rather aggressive stance – what many people want.
It will be interesting to see if any mainstream investors commit to this fund – the memories of a 60% wipe out in Bitcoin last year are still fairly fresh – but perhaps the most important reason they will is that the structure of the fund looks familiar. The current lack of price action in Bitcoin may also help convince potential investors that the downside is limited, but there is no escaping the sense that the historic instability in Bitcoin prices might convince investors to head for a hedge fund strategy that can short it, rather than just, as so many investors have done so far with Bitcoin, hit and hope with a HODL.