The Grayscale Bitcoin Trust's (GBTC) early 2023 rally has outpaced that of its underlying bitcoin (BTC) holdings, thus significantly narrowing its discount to net asset value (NAV).
The closed-end trust with more than $10 billion in assets under management is up 17.5% to begin the year versus about a 5% advance in the price of bitcoin to its current $17,300. That's brought the GBTC discount to NAV down to about 38% – the narrowest in eight weeks – after having closed out 2022 at a 45% discount. The discount touched a record 50% in December.
The discount to NAV began 2022 in the 20% area, and prior to early 2021 it was the norm for several years for GBTC to trade at an often sizable premium to NAV.
Grayscale had applied to convert the GBTC into an exchange-traded fund that would theoretically provide a path for traders to arbitrage away the discount. However, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission rejected the proposal earlier this year.
The "Grayscale discount," or the gap between the share price of the GBTC trust and the per-share value of the underlying bitcoin, has narrowed to its lowest point since mid-November. (YCharts)
This year's early narrowing could be due to the increasing pressure on Grayscale parent Digital Currency Group (DCG) to address the massive discount. There are calls from a number of crypto-sector players for the trust to be liquidated, or at least for Grayscale to allow redemptions, which would allow GBTC investors to quickly realize the full value of their holdings. Hedge fund Fir Tree late last year filed a lawsuit against Grayscale, calling for the company to lower its fees and resume redemptions as a way to narrow the discount.
Also possibly at work could be any investor positioning taking place around the start of the year. Having grown fat in a number of one-way (mostly down) crypto trades last year, traders might be covering some of those bets as 2023 begins. Alongside the move in GBTC to start the year, there have been sizable rallies in the stocks of crypto exchange Coinbase (COIN) and bitcoin miners Marathon Digital (MARA) and Riot Platforms (RIOT) – all three of which tumbled 75% or more in 2022.
DCG is the parent company of CoinDesk.
Lyllah Ledesma contributed to this report.
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