Asset manager Abrdn becomes biggest external shareholder in digital-assets exchange Archax

Quick Take

  • Archax enables institutional investors access to blockchain-based assets.
  • Archax is the only digital-assets exchange to secure approval from the Financial Conduct Authority to operate in the UK. 

Abrdn, an investment firm with more than $619 billion in assets under management, said it has become the biggest external shareholder in digital-assets exchange Archax. 

Founded in 2018, Archax is the UK’s first regulated digital-securities exchange. It enables institutional investors access to blockchain-based assets, it said in a news release on Friday. 

Since January, crypto-asset companies have been required to register and secure approval from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to operate in the UK. Archax is the only exchange to win approval from the regulator, per the release. 

Archax has secured permissions that cover trading, custody and brokerage and will launch later this year, the release said.

Abrdn’s stake in Archax will provide the asset manager with a seat on the board. It’s the company's first big move into digital assets. 

Founded in 1825, investment house Abrdn, formerly known as Standard Life Aberdeen, offers a range of investment services focused on investment solutions, tools and technologies for financial advisers and a personal wealth business.

The company plans to use the stake in Archax as a route for investors to access opportunities within digital securities and connect to existing offerings through "tokenization," per the release.

“With Archax, we will have a meaningful footprint in this fast-developing market — which is likely to evolve in a multitude of different ways that are relevant to our core businesses,” said Stephen Bird, Abrdn’s CEO, in the release. 

On Thursday, the FCA rolled out new disclosure requirements stating that any person who decides to acquire 25% or more of an FCA registered crypto-asset firm must receive prior FCA approval before completing the transaction. 

Across the pond, US asset managers are making similar moves. On Thursday, BlackRock, the world's biggest investment manager, launched a product offering institutional clients exposure to spot bitcoin. The week before, it announced a partnership with Coinbase to offer crypto assets to institutional clients. 

Also, $1.3 trillion asset manager T. Rowe Price recently appointed Blue Macellari as its head of digital-assets strategy. She joins the firm from crypto hedge fund Dunamis Trading and will lead both the development and implementation of the firm's crypto strategy. 

Fidelity, which oversees $4.2 trillion, has been in the space longer, having launched a digital-assets arm in 2018. 

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