A South Korean sovereign wealth investment fund has “indirectly” bought shares in the listed American crypto exchange giant Coinbase – although it has since distanced itself from crypto-related interests.
Per Yonhap, the move was made by the Korea Investment Corporation (KIC), a sovereign wealth fund established by the government back in 2005. It was charged at its inception with “enhancing” the nation’s long-term “purchasing power” by investing public funds in international financial markets.
And due to the fact that Coinbase went public on the Nasdaq stock exchange in spring 2021 – and the fact that mainstream financial advisors have earmarked it as a company to watch – the South Korean government now, in theory, owns an (estimated) USD 1.9m chunk of it.
Yonhap explained that in November last year, the index provider Morgan Stanley Capital International included Coinbase shares on one of its popular tracker indices. The KCI invests public funds in this tracker, and – subsequently – Coinbase shares were “automatically included” in the sovereign wealth fund’s portfolio.
As such, the South Korean state has now picked up 8,700 shares in the American crypto firm.
However, crypto regulation is something of a sensitive issue in South Korea. After many years of tight regulation, which has resulted in an initial coin offering (ICO) blanket ban, the virtual elimination of anonymous trading and stringent crypto exchange policing, the two leading candidates in next month’s presidential elections have hinted at a more business- and crypto-friendly approach to the sector.
Regardless, the crypto situation is very much in flux and shrouded in controversy in South Korea – and the KIC was quick to distance itself from crypto-related matters.
A KIC official was quoted as saying that the fund did not consider cryptoassets to be a suitable form of investment for a fund of its nature, and called its move an “indirect and barely significant investment” in “a cryptocurrency exchange, not in cryptocurrencies.”