Morgan Stanley Owns 13 Million Grayscale BTC Shares

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  • Morgan Stanley owns some 13 million shares in Grayscale Investments’ Bitcoin Trust
  • The bank increased its holdings in Q4 of last year
  • The huge holding, worth some $380 million today, coils show confidence in Grayscale’s ETF plans

Morgan Stanley owns some $380 million worth of Grayscale Investments’ Bitcoin Trust (GBTC) across 17 portfolios, according to Blockworks. The figure, which was taken from December 2021 filings, represents around 1% of its net assets in the respective funds. Morgan Stanley was known to be a large GBTC holder, and the fact that it has increased its holdings with Grayscale currently undergoing consideration for a Bitcoin ETF has been seen by some as an indicator that it has a greater chance of approval. In recent days, representatives from Coinbase and BlockFi have both written to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) pushing for the Grayscale Bitcoin ETF to be awarded, although whether that will sway the SEC’s opinion is doubtful.

Has Grayscale Bitcoin ETF Application Prompted Buy Up?

Blockworks was prompted to investigate Morgan GBTC holdings by the individual behind the Twitter handle @MacroScope17 who asked if anyone had quizzed the bank about its holdings lately:

Blockworks did just that and found a number of interesting facts:

  • Morgan Stanley holds more than 13 million GBTC shares across 17 portfolios
  • GBTC shares make up around 1% of each portfolio’s asset balance
  • The biggest GBTC holder is the Morgan Stanley Growth Portfolio, which holds 4.3 million shares today worth around $122 million
  • This was also the portfolio with the biggest addition, with 18% added in the last quarter of 2021

Grayscale confirmed plans to transition its Grayscale Bitcoin Trust into a Grayscale Bitcoin ETF last April, and started the ball rolling six months later. Coinbase’s Chief Legal Officer Paul Grewal wrote to the SEC in support of Grayscale’s plans last week, three months after penning a similar appeal, while BlockFi founder and CEO Zac Prince also expressed his support for the plan in February. Given BlockFi’s recent run-ins with the SEC however, it’s not clear whether his presence will help or hinder the potential for a Grayscale Bitcoin ETF.

The SEC has been famously reticent to approve a Bitcoin ETF, with concerns over the asset itself usually being the sticking point, which is something that Grayscale clearly has no control over.