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Amid crypto turmoil, Hong Kong debuts first crypto futures ETFs

Kitco News

HONG KONG, Dec 15 (Reuters) - Two exchange traded funds (ETF) that track U.S.-listed cryptocurrency futures have raised a combined $73.6 million ahead of their debut on the Hong Kong stock exchange on Friday in defiance of the sector's meltdown.

Cryptocurrencies have endured months of turmoil, with the collapse of crypto exchange FTX the latest blow to the sector. Bitcoin, the biggest cryptocurrency, has lost more than 70% of its value since hitting a record high in November 2021.

The ETFs, managed by CSOP Asset Management, invest in bitcoin and ether futures listed on the CME exchange in the United States, the only cryptocurrency assets currently permitted by Hong Kong's Securities and Futures Commission (SFC).

The larger of the two, CSOP Bitcoin Futures ETF (3066.HK), pulled in $53.9 million, according to the manager. That topped ProShares Bitcoin Strategy ETF , the first U.S. bitcoin futures ETF that debuted on the NYSE Arca exchange in October 2021 with $20 million of seed capital, according to media reports.

"Coming after the recent liquidity problems affecting some of the crypto platforms, our two crypto futures ETFs demonstrate that Hong Kong remains open-minded on the development of virtual assets," said Yi Wang, head of quantitative investment at CSOP.

Just before FTX's collapse last month, the SFC said in October it would start a consultation to allow retail investors to trade cryptocurrencies and ETFs. The regulator had initially proposed restricting participation to professional investors.

"As the ETFs do not invest in physical bitcoin, and are traded on regulated U.S. and Hong Kong exchanges, there are more regulatory safeguards for investors compared to tokens traded on unregulated platforms," Wang said.

On Friday, each lot trading on the Hong Kong Exchanges & Clearing (HKEX) (0388.HK) will debut at HK$780 each.

"The price of bitcoin may be subject to manipulation as a significant portion is held by a small number of holders" and the CME futures could drop to zero, the ETFs' product document filed to the HKEX said.

Reporting by Georgina Lee Editing by Mark Potter
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