Hamish Baillie, Investment director at UK-based asset manager Ruffer Investment Company Limited (“Ruffer”) recently talked about his firm’s experience with investing in Bitcoin.
Ruffer is a closed-ended investment company incorporated in Guernsey, an island in the English Channel. It was funded in 1994, and it has around 6,600 clients worldwide., “mainly individuals and families, pension funds and charities.” As of 30 November 2020, it had £20.3 billion (or roughly $26 billion) worth of assets under management (AUM).
On 15 December 2020, Ruffer announced that in November 2020, the managers of the “Ruffer Multi-Strategies Fund” had reduced the fund’s exposure to gold in favor of Bitcoin.
According to a Portfolio Update notice published on the website of the London Stock Exchange (LSE), Ruffer said that despite the turmoil caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, its portfolio had “made strong progress” in 2020, with a net asset value (NAV) total return of 12.2% (as of 8 December 2020):
“In the spring and early summer, gold and the inflation-linked bonds performed well. More recently, the economically sensitive equities have reacted very positively to the success of the covid-19 vaccines, leading the portfolio higher.”
More interestingly, Ruffer said that in November 2020 the managers of its Multi-Strategies Fund had made a defensive move, reducing the exposure to gold and adding exposure to Bitcoin, and that the size of this exposure was “currently equivalent to around 2.5% of the portfolio.”
Ruffer said that adding exposure to Bitcoin gave the fund “a small but potent insurance policy against the continuing devaluation of the world’s major currencies.” It went on to say that Bitcoin “diversifies the company’s (much larger) investments in gold and inflation-linked bonds, and acts as a hedge to some of the monetary and market risks that we see.”
Then on 16 December 2020, Zack Voell wrote in a report for Coindesk that a spokesperson for Ruffer Investment had clarified (via email) an important statement in the company’s portfolio update memo to shareholders.
More specifically, this person told Coindesk that the 2.5% figure mentioned in that memo was referring to the percentage of the firm’s AUM that represented Bitcoin exposure. In fact, he/she said that Ruffer’s Bitcoin exposure “totals around £550m, equivalent to around 2.7% of the firm’s assets under management.”
Well, last Sunday (June 6), Ruffer’s investment Director told “The Sunday Times” that the firm had decided to close its Bitcoin position after making over $1.1 billion in profits in less than six months, and that this decision to cash out of the crypto market for now was partly due to concerns that younger people, whose trading of cryptocurrencies the firm believes fuelled Bitcoin’s rally over the past several months, would be trading less now that the COVID-19 lockdowns are coming to an end.
“When the price doubled we took some profits for our clients in December and early January. We actively managed the position and by the time we sold the last tranche in April the total profit was slightly more than $1.1 billion.“
However, he says the firm is open to the idea of returning to the Bitcoin market at some point in the future:
“If you have a multi-asset strategy then things that behave in different ways are really helpful. There’s no point being multi-asset if all your different assets move with the same dynamics.“
The views and opinions expressed by the author, or any people mentioned in this article, are for informational purposes only, and they do not constitute financial, investment, or other advice. Investing in or trading cryptoassets comes with a risk of financial loss.
Photo by “Karolina Grabowska” via Pexels
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