One of the largest public corporations with Bitcoin portfolios sold its final investment in April, well ahead of the cryptomarket crash.
Ruffer, a London-based asset management firm, exited the Bitcoin market in April with a profit of slightly more than $1.1 billion for its customers.
In November, a month after Bitcoin’s price began to soar from around $10,500, the firm invested $600 million. It made a $750 million profit on some of its holdings in December and early January, but it continued going.
“We carefully managed the position, and the overall profit was little more than $1.1 billion by the time we sold the last tranche in April,” Hamish Baillie, an investment director at Ruffer, told us.
Ruffer was named one of the nine public firms with the largest Bitcoin portfolios by Decrypt in February.
Ruffer exited the Bitcoin market because it believes that if the lockdowns are lifted, young people, whose trading activity is credited with igniting the bull market, will not stay at home trading cryptocurrencies.
The company has put its Bitcoin gains into “safe” assets like inflation-linked gilts, which are government-issued bonds that rise in tandem with the retail price index.
But, according to Baillie, Ruffer may return to Bitcoin.
“Things that behave in diverse ways are quite useful if you have a multi-asset approach. It’s pointless to be multi-asset if all of your assets have the same dynamics,” he explained.
In February, another Ruffer executive stated that while the company was “very skeptical” of Bitcoin in 2017, it had changed its stance by 2020. For institutional investors, “Bitcoin is emerging as an alternative safe haven asset,” according to the business.
Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, has recently popularized environmental criticism, but it doesn’t move Ruffer much. Much of the criticism is based on “hyperbole and disinformation,” according to Baillie, who claims that Bitcoin uses less electricity than the gaming industry.
There isn’t much evidence to back up that claim. The energy usage of videogaming in California was investigated by a team of researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in 2018. According to one non-peer-reviewed study that extrapolated this research to worldwide levels, videogames require 46% more electricity than Bitcoin, while the statistics are likely “pretty similar to each other.”
Bitcoin gets “probably anywhere between 40% and 70% of its electricity” from renewable sources, according to Baillie. The widely quoted wild range is based on two reports: a September 2020 research from the Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance, which forecasts renewable consumption at about 39%, and a research from crypto asset manager CoinShares, which predicts it at as high as 77.6%.
Baillie further suggested that Bitcoin has significant social benefits, particularly in less developed areas of the world. “[Western] currencies have remained relatively stable, but picture owning bitcoin for ten years and living in Venezuela. He described it as a “great store of value outside of the monetary system.”
However, while owning Bitcoin may be a viable strategy for Venezuelans, it is no longer sufficient for Ruffer.