Hendrik Leber (59) is the founder of Acatis, an investment fund company for asset managers and banks. Acatis manages around 3.5 billion euros for its customers – and is the first traditional investor worldwide to include Bitcoin in its portfolio. In an interview, Leber explains how he came to Bitcoin and what role the cryptocurrency plays in the portfolio.
You recently added Bitcoin to the global mixed fund Acatis Datini Valueflex. How did you get there?
There were different initiators. First I saw Carsten Otto from P2P-Labs at the university. After his lecture, I understood for the first time how Bitcoin and blockchain work. Trading Bitcoin Platforms 2021 became especially interesting. A second initiator was Patrick Hable, a co-owner of the think tank 2iQ, with whom we work together. He keeps me up to date and has already told me a lot about Bitcoin.
Why is Bitcoin interesting for you as an asset manager?
Many colleagues use gold to protect yourself from uncertainty. I figured Bitcoin could do the same thing. It is limited, it is mined, the central banks cannot access it, it can be transferred across national borders. In times of uncertainty and the manipulability of the financial markets, Bitcoin is a real alternative.
How do you classify Bitcoin as part of the portfolio?
As an asset, from which I expect to last in times of inflation, devaluation and expropriation.So as a kind of financial disaster control. In addition, there is an increasing demand for Bitcoin transactions, for example currently in India or by foreign workers, while the supply remains limited.
What is the risk / return ratio of Bitcoin as an investment vehicle?
The risk is already very high. There are price fluctuations that you know from gold. There are also technical risks, such as the fact that the concepts behind Bitcoin can fail for reasons we do not yet know, such as quantum cryptography. And of course the risks of theft and manipulation.
The return on the other hand is better with a zero as a base than on the money market account. If I park liquidity today, I have negative returns. But I also expect the share price to rise because the demand for Bitcoin as a transaction medium is increasing while the supply remains stable.
How is Bitcoin doing in your fund so far?
We had our first purchase on October 7th. Since then, the price has risen 35.49 percent. That gave the fund an overall return of 1.06 percent. We have already made about a million euros in profit with Bitcoin. That is already very good and is in the top fifth of the quality of our investments.
Do you think that other institutional investors such as pension funds, insurance companies and banks will follow you?
I have already discussed Bitcoin with customers, i.e. with insurance companies and banks and so on. They find this interesting, but are not ready to take any real step yet. Some colleagues, like me, hold small amounts of bitcoins privately, but are still a long way from integrating them into the professionally managed funds. I think that will come soon, but it will take time.
What I can see at the same time is that the banks have so far almost completely ignored the importance of blockchain for transactions and securities trading. There are some institutes that do this, but there are very few. If someone offered me a current account in Bitcoin, with standing orders, investments in securities, credit cards, ATMs and so on, I would be there immediately.
You have bought shares in the Bitcoin Tracker XBT. Can you also imagine buying Bitcoin directly as a fund?
Introducing it, but we are not allowed to. Buying bitcoins directly is not allowed as they are not on the list of investment vehicles we are allowed to use. There are very few opportunities for investment companies to invest in Bitcoin. As long as there is no ETF, the Bitcoin tracker XBT is the best of them.