Morgan Stanley discloses US spot bitcoin ETF holdings worth over $270 million in filing

Quick Take

  • Morgan Stanley has emerged as one of the top holders of U.S. spot bitcoin ETFs as of March 31, according to a Wednesday 13F filing with the SEC.
  • The multinational investment bank and financial services company disclosed holding $269.9 million worth of Grayscale’s GBTC and $2.3 million of Ark Invest’s ARKB.

Multinational investment bank and financial services company Morgan Stanley disclosed U.S. spot bitcoin exchange-traded fund holdings worth over $270 million as of March 31 in a quarterly 13F filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Wednesday.

Morgan Stanley disclosed holding $269.9 million worth of Grayscale’s converted spot bitcoin ETF — making it the third-largest holder of GBTC shares behind Susquehanna’s $1.1 billion and Horizon Kinetics’s $946 million, according to Fintel data. The bank also revealed a smaller $2.3 million allocation to Ark Invest’s spot bitcoin ETF — placing it among the top 20 ARKB holders, per Fintel.

13F filings are quarterly reports filed with the SEC by institutional investment managers with at least $100 million in equity assets under management. The filings provide a view of the manager's stock holdings at the end of each quarter. However, 13F reports only require the disclosure of long positions in U.S. equities and options on equities. They do not require the disclosure of short positions, so they only provide a partial view of an investment manager's overall portfolio strategy.

In a January note to investors, Morgan Stanley’s Head of Digital Asset Markets, Andrew Peel, said the U.S. spot bitcoin ETF launch was a "potential paradigm shift in the global perception and use of digital assets."

In February, a Morgan Stanley fund stated in an SEC filing that it may gain exposure to spot bitcoin ETFs. Last month, the firm reportedly laid out risk management requirements to potentially allow its 15,000 brokers to recommend them to clients.

Institutional ownership of spot bitcoin ETFs grows

Morgan Stanley is among hundreds of institutional investors declaring U.S. spot bitcoin ETFs in their first-quarter 13F filings over the past few weeks. 

Yesterday, Millennium Management became the largest known holder of the category with a combined $1.94 billion in shares as of March 31 spread out across five funds: ARK Invest’s ARKB, Bitwise’s BITB, Grayscale’s GBTC, BlackRock’s IBIT and Fidelity’s FBTC. However, the fair market value of those shares made up just 3% of the hedge fund's $64 billion in assets under management, according to its quarterly 13F filing with the SEC.

“Millennium is king of the bitcoin ETF holders with about $2 billion across five ETFs. This is out of over 500 holders (about 200x the average for a new ETF). Majority are investment advisors (60%) but a big dose of hedge funds (25%). Never can be totally sure what hedge funds up to but they were definitely big buyers,” Bloomberg ETF analyst Eric Balchunas posted on X.

Last week, Bracebridge Capital emerged as a top holder of Ark Invest’s ARKB and BlackRock’s IBIT spot bitcoin ETFs, also holding a significant allocation of Grayscales GBTC. Its combined spot bitcoin ETF holdings were valued at $434 million as of March 31.

The State of Wisconsin Investment Board also revealed a $163 million stake in BlackRock and Grayscale’s spot bitcoin ETFs on Tuesday.

Earlier this week, Bitwise CIO Matt Hougan said spot bitcoin ETF allocations revealed in the recent 13F filings with the SEC are just a “down payment.”

“All told, 563 professional investment firms reported owning $3.5 billion worth of bitcoin ETFs as of last Thursday. By the time the May 15 filing deadline arrives, I suspect we may end up with 700+ professional firms and total AUM approaching $5 billion,” Hougan said, adding that the scale of ownership was “off the charts” for new ETFs.

The U.S. spot bitcoin ETFs witnessed $303 million in net inflows on Wednesday, led by Fidelity’s FBTC with $131.3 million worth of net inflows. Ark Invest’s ARKB and Grayscale’s GBTC generated $38.6 million and $27 million in net inflows yesterday, respectively, as bitcoin rose 8% to close the day back above $66,000, according to The Block’s price page.

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