Wisconsin Board Invests $187 Million in Bitcoin and Crypto

The State of Wisconsin Investment Board has become the first public institution in the U.S. to invest in cryptocurrency, putting $187.1 million into bitcoin and related crypto companies, as revealed in a May 14 quarterly filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

SWIB manages the assets of the Wisconsin Retirement System, the State Investment Fund, and other funds, with total assets exceeding $156 billion as of the end of 2023. The cryptocurrency investment represents a small portion—about one-tenth of 1%—of its total assets.

Bob Bukowski, managing partner of Alpha Investing Consulting, described the investment as a speculative bet. He explained, “If bitcoin doubles or triples in value, they can say they were invested. If it goes to zero, the loss is negligible.”

The largest portion of SWIB’s crypto investment is $99.1 million in iShares Bitcoin Trust (NYSEARCA:IBIT), an exchange-traded fund managed by BlackRock (NYSE:BLK), which launched in January after SEC approval. The fund closed at $38.98 on Tuesday, up about 46% from its January launch.

In addition to iShares Bitcoin Trust, SWIB invested $63.6 million in Grayscale Bitcoin Trust and $24.5 million in Coinbase (NASDAQ:COIN), a leading cryptocurrency exchange platform.

Bloomberg Senior ETF Analyst Eric Balchunas noted on Twitter that other public institutions might follow SWIB’s lead, saying, “Expect more, as institutions tend to move in herds.”

When contacted for comment, SWIB stated it “does not comment on specific investments.”

SEC Chair Gary Gensler emphasized caution, noting that bitcoin is a speculative asset often associated with illicit activities. He said, “Investors should remain cautious about the myriad risks associated with bitcoin and products whose value is tied to crypto.”

Bukowski added that the SEC’s involvement is crucial for investor protection, stating, “The SEC now has the authority to monitor how these investments are managed and traded.”

Bitcoin traded between $66,685 and $70,314 per coin over the last five days, closing at $68,305 on Wednesday.

Featured Image: Freepik

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