Norwegian Oil Billionaire Joins the Bets on Bitcoin
(Bloomberg) -- Oil billionaire Kjell Inge Rokke has come out strongly in favor of Bitcoin, as he bets the cryptocurrency will prove the best defense against the disruption facing the finance industry and central banking.
Rokke’s Aker ASA, which controls oil and oil service companies and has more recently branched out into green tech and renewable energy companies, is setting up a new business, Seetee AS, to tap into the potential of Bitcoin, according to a statement on Monday.
“Bitcoin may still go to zero. But it can also become the core of a new monetary architecture,” Rokke, Norway’s second-richest person with an estimated $5.4 billion net worth, wrote in a shareholder letter. He says it’s not inconceivable that one Bitcoin could one day “be worth millions of dollars.”
“People who know the most about Bitcoin believe its future success is nearly inevitable,” Rokke said.
Bitcoin has continued to divide opinions after a volatile start to the year. A single coin cost more than $57,000 at one point last month, compared with just over $8,000 roughly a year ago. The cryptocurrency has won some notable endorsements of late, including Elon Musk. It’s also been associated with some nail-biting investing moments, with Cathie Wood’s Ark Investment Management a notable example.
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Despite the volatility, there’s growing evidence that Bitcoin is being embraced by some of the most influential members of the global financial industry. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. is currently working to restart its cryptocurrency trading desk, as it responds to substantial demand for digital assets from institutions.
The situation is different now compared with the 2017 Bitcoin bubble due to “huge” institutional demand across different industry types and from private banking clients, Matt McDermott, global head of digital assets for Goldman Sachs Global Markets Division, said on a podcast.
For now, Rokke’s investment will be small, and Seetee will start with just 500 million kroner ($58 million) in capital. The firm plans to keep all its liquid investable assets in the cryptocurrency.
Aker’s Seetee will focus on investing in Bitcoin, establish partnerships with leading players in the Bitcoin and broader blockchain community, launch Bitcoin verification operations and invest in innovation projects and companies.
The Norwegian industrial company, with roots reaching back 160 years, has been active in investing in industrial software, fintech and green energy value chains. Its latest venture into cryptocurrency is intended to help pursue developments in cyber security, financial transactions and emissions-free verification operations, it said.
“The direction is clear: finance will be disrupted as surely as fossil fuels will be,” Rokke said. “The question is not if, but when.”
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