First Bitcoin Futures ETF Rises In Trading Debut
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First Bitcoin Futures ETF Rises In Trading Debut

ProShares Bitcoin Strategy ETF advances nearly 5% following its closely watched launch.

By MICHAEL WURSTHORN
Wed, Oct 20, 2021 10:35amGrey Clock 3 min

The first bitcoin-focused exchange-traded fund rose in its trading debut Tuesday after getting a warm reception from investors.

The ProShares Bitcoin Strategy ETF climbed most of the day, gaining nearly 5% to settle at US$41.94. About US$981 million of shares changed hands over the session, making it the second-most highly-traded ETF debut ever, according to Elisabeth Kashner, director of ETF research at FactSet.

The launch is being closely watched on Wall Street, where finding a way to sell securities linked to bitcoin has been a priority for many firms. Bethesda, Md.-based ProShares rang the bell at the New York Stock Exchange on Tuesday to celebrate the launch of its ETF, which goes by the ticker BITO and holds bitcoin futures contracts rather than the cryptocurrency.

“There are a multitude of investors who have brokerage accounts and are comfortable buying stocks and ETFs,” said ProShares Chief Executive Michael Sapir in an interview. “We think this will appeal to them.”

Among the fund’s first-day investors was Thomas Johnson, who is 33 years old and works in pharmaceutical sales in Orlando, Fla. Soon after the fund started trading, Mr. Johnson said he used about 15% of the assets in his retirement account to buy shares of the fund.

“I see cryptocurrencies as a whole as something that will outperform the stock market,” said Mr. Johnson.

He added that it was his first ever purchase of an ETF, although he started buying bitcoin a year earlier.

Other asset managers are expected to launch similar funds, including Valkyrie Investments, VanEck and others. But one of the biggest global asset-management firms, Invesco, on Monday put its bitcoin futures ETF on hold.

“We have determined not to pursue the launch of a Bitcoin futures ETF in the immediate near term,” an Invesco spokeswoman said in a statement. The firm said it is committed to working with its partner, Galaxy Digital Holdings, on an ETF that holds crypto rather than futures.

Invesco didn’t elaborate on the decision.

The firm amended its filing late Monday, pushing the fund’s effective date toward the end of the month rather than withdrawing it altogether, signalling the ETF might still launch later on.

Thomas Lee, a managing partner at research firm Fundstrat Advisors, said the ProShares ETF will enable more individuals to invest in bitcoin. He said assets in the fund could rise to as much as $50 billion from the $20 million the fund started with on Tuesday.

“This will drive higher asset prices via network effects,” Mr. Lee said. He said bitcoin could rise to $168,000 from a recent $64,000.

Bitcoin has climbed 48% since September, reflecting in part purchases driven by the prospective launch of the ProShares ETF and rivals.

The ETF came online following an eight-year effort by asset managers to create funds that hold actual bitcoins. The Securities and Exchange Commission, which hasn’t supported that approach because of concerns that bitcoin trading isn’t transparent enough to protect investors from fraud and manipulation, instead steered asset managers toward the creation of a bitcoin futures product.

Unlike digital currencies, futures trade on regulated venues such as the Chicago Mercantile Exchange.

Futures-based ETFs are sometimes hampered by discrepancies between the futures market and the underlying assets they track.

Asset managers say that is a trade-off some investors are likely willing to make to get exposure to crypto through the more-regulated futures market.

“That’s what I’m counting on. Other investors will see value in the ETF, or at least more of a safety net and be more willing to invest” in crypto, added Mr. Johnson.

Even with the promise of regulatory oversight, SEC Chairman Gary Gensler warned investors Tuesday that bitcoin futures remain just as risky as the cryptocurrency itself.

“It’s still a highly speculative asset class and listeners should understand that underneath this, it still has that same aspect of volatility and speculation,” Mr. Gensler said in a CNBC interview.

 

Reprinted by permission of The Wall Street Journal, Copyright 2021 Dow Jones & Company. Inc. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. Original date of publication: October 19, 2021.



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The Top 10 highest paid CEOs of the ASX 200 revealed

Along with pay rates, the latest report from the ACSI shows bonuses are no longer based on exceptional results

By Bronwyn Allen
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The CEOs of the ASX 200 were paid a little less in FY23 compared to the year before, but bonuses appear to have become the norm rather than a reward for outstanding results, according to the Australia Council of Superannuation Investors (ACSI). ACSI has released its 23rd annual report documenting the CEOs’ realised pay, which combines base salaries, bonuses and other incentives.

The highest-paid CEO among Australian-domiciled ASX 200 companies in FY23 was Greg Goodman of Goodman Group, with realised pay of $27.34 million. Goodman Group is the ASX 200’s largest real estate investment trust (REIT) with a global portfolio of $80.5 billion in assets. The highest-paid CEO among foreign-domiciled ASX 200 companies was Mick Farrell of ResMed with realised pay of $47.58 million. ResMed manufactures CPAP machines to treat sleep apnoea.

The realised pay for the CEOs of the largest 100 companies by market capitalisation fell marginally from a median of $3.93 million in FY22 to $3.87 million in FY23. This is the lowest median in the 10 years since ACSI began basing its report on realised pay data. The median realised pay for the CEOs of the next largest 100 companies also fell from $2.1million to $1.95 million.

However, 192 of the ASX 200 CEOs took home a bonus, and Ed John, ACSI’s executive manager of stewardship, is concerned that bonuses are becoming “a given”.

“At a time when companies are focused on productivity and performance, it is critical that bonuses are only paid for exceptional outcomes,” Mr John said. He added that boards should set performance thresholds for CEO bonuses at appropriate levels.

ACSI said the slightly lower median realised pay of ASX 200 CEOs indicated greater scrutiny from shareholders was having an impact. There was a record 41 strike votes against executive pay at ASX 300 annual general meetings (AGMs) in 2023. This indicated an increasing number of shareholders were feeling unhappy with the executive pay levels at the companies in which they were invested.

A strike vote means 25 percent or more of shareholders voted against a company’s remuneration report. If a second strike vote is recorded at the next AGM, shareholders can vote to force the directors to stand for re-election.

10 highest-paid ASX 200 CEOs in FY23

1. Mick Farrell, ResMed, $47.58 million*
2. Robert Thomson, News Corporation, $41.53 million*
3. Greg Goodman, Goodman Group, $27.34 million
4. Shemara Wikramanayake, Macquarie Group, $25.32 million
5. Mike Henry, BHP Group, $19.68 million
6. Matt Comyn, Commonwealth Bank, $10.52 million
7. Jakob Stausholm, Rio Tinto, $10.47 million
8. Rob Scott, Wesfarmers, $9.57 million
9. Ron Delia, Amcor, $9.33 million*
10. Colin Goldschmidt, Sonic Healthcare, $8.35 million

Source: ACSI. Foreign-domiciled ASX 200 companies*

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