Norwegian Giant Aker Goes Bitcoin, Defends BTC Mining, Eyes Micropayments
Aker ASA, a listed Norwegian industrial investment company, said it will invest in bitcoin (BTC) and blockchain ecosystem via its newly established subsidiary Seetee that is initially capitalized with NOK 500m (USD 58m) and "will keep all its liquid investable assets in bitcoin." (Updated at 10:01 UTC: updates throughout the entire text. Updated at 10:28 UTC: updates throughout the entire text. Updated at 12:44 PM UTC with a quote by Kjell Inge Røkke in the third paragraph.)
"In Bitcoin speak, we will be hodlers," Kjell Inge Røkke, Chairman of Aker, said in his 23 pages letter to shareholders, adding that "it may be irresponsible not to include some exposure to bitcoin given the asymmetric return properties."
Also, while he does not rule out that BTC "may still go to zero" it can also become "the core of a new monetary architecture": "If so, one bitcoin may be worth millions of dollars."
Per the company, Seetee will initially focus on:
- investing in and owning bitcoin,
- joining the Bitcoin and broader blockchain community and establishing partnerships with
- leading players,
- launching Bitcoin mining operations,
- building and investing in innovation projects and companies in the Bitcoin and blockchain
Seetee has already partnered with Canada-based major Bitcoin company Blockstream. The collaboration will initially focus on BTC mining operation and sidechain projects.
The team at Seetee is already running open-source BTC payment servers.
According to Øyvind Eriksen, President and CEO of Aker, BTC and blockchain "have the potential to reduce frictions in our day to day lives, enhance the security of our digitally driven economies, and unlock new business models for innovation."
Per Kjell Inge Røkke, the company aims to "increase significantly" its initial NOK 500m investment "over time as we gain experience and identify exciting opportunities."
Røkke stressed that as BTC is often criticized for its electricity consumption, inability to scale, and anonymous illegitimate payments, the company "[believes] that Bitcoin can be a solution rather than a problem for each of those."
For example, the company said it will establish mining operations that transfer stranded or intermittent electricity without stable demand locally—wind, solar, hydropower— "to economic assets that can be used anywhere."
"Bitcoin is, in our eyes, a load-balancing economic battery, and batteries are essential to the energy transition required to reach the targets of the Paris Agreement," Røkke said.
As for the investments in the Bitcoin ecosystem, the Chairman said he's particularly interested in micropayments and "how these may enable us to avoid usernames, passwords, and our personal data being monetized with, and often without, our knowledge or consent."
"After forty years in business, I have learned that you always have to keep an eye out for new opportunities and developments on the horizon," the Chairman said.
Aker is an industrial investment company with ownership interests concentrated in oil and gas, renewable energy and green technologies, maritime assets, marine biotechnology, and industrial software. Also, it is the largest shareholder, directly or indirectly, in nine companies listed on Oslo Stock Exchange
Aker and companies in which Aker is the largest investor had a total turnover of more than NOK 83bn (USD 9.7bn) in 2019, and a workforce of approximately 37,000.
At the time of writing (10:19 UTC), BTC trades at USD 49,935 and is down by 2% in a day, trimming its weekly gains to 11%. The price rallied by 31.5% in a month and 461% in a year.
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