Norwegian conglomerate Aker ASA sets up unit to buy bitcoin

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Interest in bitcoin and cryptocurrencies has jumped in the UK Eric Gaillard/Reuters
  • Billionaire Kjell Inge Rokke joins a growing list of billionaires who have declared their support for bitcoin.
  • Rokke, chairman of industrial holding company Aker ASA, said the company has set up a unit dedicated to investing in bitcoin and blockchain technology.
  • The unit, called Seetee AS, is initially capitalized with around $US58.6 ($77) million.
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Norweigian billionaire Kjell Inge Rokke joins a growing list of billionaires who have declared their support for bitcoin.

Rokke, chairman of Aker ASA, a $US6 ($8) billion industrial holding company that controls construction and oil services companies, said that the company set up a unit dedicated to investing in bitcoin and blockchain technology in in a statement Monday.

The unit, called Seetee AS, is initially capitalized with around $US58.6 ($77) million and has plans on keeping its liquid assets in bitcoin.

Seetee will focus initially on four things: investing in and owning bitcoin, establishing partnerships with leading bitcoin players, launching bitcoin verification operations, and building and investing in innovation projects.

Thus far, the unit has already entered into a collaboration agreement with Blockstream, a global leader in bitcoin and blockchain technology.

“Bit­coin may still go to zero. But it can also become the core of a new monetary ­architecture,” Rokke said in a shareholder letter. Rokke, Norway’s second-richest person also said that bit­coin could one day “be worth mil­lions of dollars.”

“First, we will use bit­coin as our trea­sury as­set and join the com­mu­ni­ty,” Rokke said. “In bit­coin speak, we will be hodlers. We will be dif­fer­ent, but ad­di­tive. Per­haps not as re­bel­lious as the cypher­punks who in­vent­ed bit­coin. But much more pro­gres­sive than most es­tab­lished cor­po­rates.”

Bitcoin had a strong run in February, and the price of the digital asset has jumped 71% year-to-date. While Rokke and others predict that bitcoin will continue its upward trajectory, the volatility has been a cause of concern for some observers.

US Treasure Secretary Janet Yellen has repeatedly called bitcoin transactions inefficient and has pointed to the illegal activities associated with the cryptocurrency, such as money laundering.

In February, bitcoin cracked the $US1 ($1) trillion dollar market capitalization threshold and jumped to past $US58,000 ($75,758) for the first time, its highest record to date. Major institutions have also thrown their weight behind the cryptocurrency.

“Peo­ple who know the most about bit­coin be­lieve its fu­ture success is near­ly inevitable,” Rokke said.

Goldman Sachs recently restarted its cryptocurrency trading desk amid a boom in bitcoin. According to an internal survey conducted by the investment bank, 22% of its clients expect the price of bitcoin to hit at least $US100,000 ($130,617) in the next 12 months.