Shares of the world’s largest bitcoin fund, Grayscale Bitcoin Trust (GBTC), hit a record-high discount rate of nearly 50% relative to the price of bitcoin (BTC) on Thursday.
GBTC is a way for investors to gain exposure to bitcoin through a traditional investment vehicle. GBTC was trading at a discount rate of 47.3%, according to data from crypto index provider TradeBlock.
“The fact that Grayscale’s Bitcoin Trust is now trading at nearly 50% discount is just awful for holders of GBTC. It really highlights the vast differences in structure quality between different investment vehicles,” Bradley Duke, co-CEO at ETC Group, said in a note to CoinDesk.
Bearish sentiment surrounding the trust deepened over the last few weeks as fears surfaced that crypto trading firm Genesis Global Trading, which is owned by Grayscale’s parent company, Digital Currency Group (DCG), could file for bankruptcy. DCG is also CoinDesk's parent company.
Following the collapse of crypto exchange FTX, Genesis Global Trading announced on Nov. 16 that it would halt customer withdrawals from its lending unit, Genesis Global Capital. Amid speculation about a possible filing, Genesis said in a note to clients on Wednesday that a resolution of the lending unit’s withdrawal freeze is likely to be a matter of “weeks” rather than days.
One line of speculation on Twitter was that a cascade of liquidity issues at DCG subsidiaries might ultimately lead to the liquidation of GBTC, which could lead to a massive amount of dumping of bitcoin on the open market.
There were even some complaints that Grayscale hadn'r transparently proven its GBTC fund reserves.
GBTC shares haven't traded at a premium to bitcoin since March 2021. Prior to that date, the trust benefited from strong institutional demand and traded at a double-digit premium to its net asset value.
On Tuesday, hedge fund Fir Tree said it is suing Grayscale to obtain details about GBTC in order to investigate potential mismanagement and conflicts of interest. The firm said it wants Grayscale to resume redemptions and cut its 2% fees for the trust.
CoinDesk is an award-winning media outlet that covers the cryptocurrency industry. Its journalists abide by a strict set of editorial policies. In November 2023, CoinDesk was acquired by the Bullish group, owner of Bullish, a regulated, digital assets exchange. The Bullish group is majority-owned by Block.one; both companies have interests in a variety of blockchain and digital asset businesses and significant holdings of digital assets, including bitcoin. CoinDesk operates as an independent subsidiary with an editorial committee to protect journalistic independence. CoinDesk offers all employees above a certain salary threshold, including journalists, stock options in the Bullish group as part of their compensation.