Vanguard, Avowedly Anti-Crypto, Names Bitcoin-Friendly Ex-BlackRock Exec as CEO

Samil Ramji, who led BlackRock’s ETF business including the launch of the firm’s spot bitcoin product, departed the firm in January.

AccessTimeIconMay 14, 2024 at 10:35 p.m. UTC
Updated May 14, 2024 at 11:13 p.m. UTC
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Vanguard named the BlackRock executive who oversaw the firm's launch of its bitcoin exchange-traded fund as its new CEO on Tuesday evening.

Salim Ramji left BlackRock in January to “seek a new leadership or entrepreneurial opportunity outside the firm,” he said then. The move came shortly after the asset manager launched the iShares Bitcoin Trust (IBIT), which Ramji oversaw the filing and logistics for, according to Bloomberg Intelligence senior ETF analyst Eric Balchunas.

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  • "He has been quoted about his interest in digital assets although I'm not sure that's going to change Vanguard's stance but he will be the CEO. Who knows. Door much more open now IMO," Balchunas wrote in a post on X.

    The Wall Street Journal first reported the appointment earlier on Tuesday, with the company confirming his appointment in a press release later in the evening.

    In a statement, Ramji said he would be working with Vanguard's leadership to "lead the company into the future."

    "The current investor landscape is changing, and that presents opportunities for Vanguard to further its mission of giving people the best chance for investment success, which is more relevant today than at any time in the firm's five-decade history," he said. "My focus will be to mobilize Vanguard to meet the moment while staying true to that core purpose – remaining the trusted firm that takes a stand for all investors."

    Nate Geraci, president of the ETF Store said: “Will be interesting to see if Salim Ramji tries to help Vanguard investors gain access to crypto as he believed in doing for BlackRock investors."

    The pick comes as a surprise given Vanguard’s negative stance on bitcoin and Ramji’s known interest in the industry, sparking chatter on social media that the asset manager might change its stance.

    “The underlying technology that underpins bitcoin and the blockchain technology, something that we’re incredibly excited about, and we’re excited about it because it removes frictions or at least has the promise of removing frictions across the ecosystem,” Ramji said in an interview on Bloomberg TV in July 2023. “The underpinnings are really powerful for us and that really sparked our interest.”

    If confirmed, this will also mark the first time that Vanguard is hiring a CEO from outside the company.

    UPDATE (May 14, 2024, 21:13 UTC): Adds confirmation from Vanguard.

    Edited by Kevin Reynolds and Nikhilesh De.


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    Helene Braun

    Helene is a New York-based reporter covering Wall Street, the rise of the spot bitcoin ETFs and crypto exchanges. She is also the co-host of CoinDesk's Markets Daily show. Helene is a graduate of New York University's business and economic reporting program and has appeared on CBS News, YahooFinance and Nasdaq TradeTalks. She holds BTC and ETH.

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