Investment management firm Ruffer says it has 'gained exposure' to bitcoin in allocation worth £550M

UPDATE (12/16/20): Following the publication of this report, a Ruffer spokesperson told The Block in an email:

Ruffer portfolios aim to preserve capital and deliver good all-weather returns, and they now have an allocation to bitcoin to help us meet that objective. In November, Ruffer gained exposure to bitcoin via a specialist third-party manager. This was primarily a protective move for portfolios. It diversifies Ruffer portfolios' investments in gold and inflation-li'nked bonds, and it acts as a hedge to some of the risks that we see in a fragile monetary system and distorted financial markets. Ruffer's exposure to bitcoin currently totals around £550m, equivalent to around 2.7% of the firm's assets under management.

The headline of this report has been updated for clarity.

Multi-billion dollar management firm Ruffer said Tuesday that one of its funds has bought bitcoin.

The Guernsey-based firm, which according to its website had £20.3 billion in assets under management (AUM) has of November 30, disclosed the purchase in a notice published by the London Stock Exchange on December 15.

"One recent addition, via one of the specialist managers appointed within the Ruffer Multi-Strategies Fund, has been bitcoin. This is primarily a defensive move, one made in November after reducing the company's exposure to gold," the firm said, going on to explain:

"The exposure to bitcoin is currently equivalent to around 2.5% of the portfolio. We see this as a small but potent insurance policy against the continuing devaluation of the world's major currencies. Bitcoin diversifies the company's (much larger) investments in gold and inflation-linked bonds, and acts as a hedge to some of the monetary and market risks that we see."

It's not currently clear how much bitcoin the firm purchased, but some back-of-the-napkin math offers clues about the size of the "small but potent insurance policy" referenced.

An LSE filing from February indicates that the Ruffer Illiquid Multi Strategies Fund 2015 held roughly £55.4 million ($74.4 million) as of December 31.

An interim filing from The International Stock Exchange (TISE) and published December 14 (covering the period as of September 30) indicates that Ruffer Illiquid Multi Strategies Fund 2015 Limited has a total of £1.13 billion invested, or about $1.5 billion. Based on that figure, the Ruffer fund may have bought as much as $37.5 million in bitcoin.

Ruffer did not immediately respond to requests for comment.