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Canadian regulator clears launch of world's first bitcoin ETF: investment manager – Reuters

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TORONTO (Reuters) – Canada’s main securities regulator has cleared the launch of the world’s first bitcoin exchange traded fund, an investment manager said on Friday, providing investors greater access to the cryptocurrency that has sparked an explosion in trading interest.

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The Ontario Securities Commission has approved the launch of Purpose Bitcoin ETF, Toronto-based asset management company Purpose Investments Inc. said in a statement. The OSC confirmed the approval in a separate statement to Reuters.

“The ETF will be the first in the world to invest directly in physically settled Bitcoin, not derivatives, allowing investors easy and efficient access to the emerging asset class of cryptocurrency,” Purpose Investments said.

Investors have been able to trade bitcoin using futures contracts on the CME derivatives exchange. They can also buy closed-end investment funds, such as the Bitcoin Fund on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

An ETF could offer some advantages to investors, such as buying at net asset value rather than at a premium, said Arthur Salzer, chief executive officer of Northland Wealth Management

“I think the OSC is doing the right thing allowing for an ETF,” Salzer said. “It gets rid of some of the negatives of the current funds.”

Bitcoin notched a record high of $48,975 on Friday. It has gained about 63% so far this year and soared roughly 1,130% since mid-March 2020.

Elon Musk’s Tesla revealed on Monday it had bought $1.5 billion worth of the cryptocurrency and would soon accept it as a form of payment for its cars, while the cryptocurrency has been gaining acceptance among mainstream financial firms.

In the United States, eight firms have tried without success since 2013 to create a bitcoin ETF, according to Todd Rosenbluth, director of ETF and mutual fund research at New York based CFRA.

Among issues the Securities and Exchange Commission appears to be focused on are the potential for market manipulation and the process of custody audits that verify that a fund holds its purported assets.

“While some expect that a Canadian ETF approval sets the stage for a near-term U.S. one, we expect the SEC under new leadership to take their time to review some of the new filings from VanEck and others,” Rosenbluth said.

VanEck is a New York-based investment management firm.

Gary Gensler, former chair of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, was named chair of the SEC last month by U.S. President Joe Biden.

Reporting by Fergal Smith and David Randall; Editing by Denny Thomas and Dan Grebler

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Chinese Investment in Australia Plummets Amid Tensions – VOA Asia

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SYDNEY – Chinese investment in Australia fell by 61% in 2020 to the lowest level recorded by the Australian National University in six years, coinciding with a worsening diplomatic dispute.    

The annual tracking study from the university’s East Asian Bureau of Economic Research recorded A$1 billion ($783 million) of Chinese investment in 2020, consisting of real estate (45%), mining (40%) and manufacturing (15%) deals.  

The fall was larger than the 42% decrease in foreign direct investment globally measured by the United Nations amid the COVID-19 pandemic, said Shiro Armstrong, the bureau director. 
  
“It reflects the effects of COVID but also more scrutiny of foreign investment by the Australian government, particularly that from China,” he said.  

Australia announced a shakeup of its foreign investment laws in 2020 to give the government the power to veto, or force the sale of a business if it creates a national security risk.  

Treasurer Josh Frydenburg said in June the national security test would be applied to telecommunications, energy and utilities firms, and businesses that collect data.  

Chinese company Mengniu abandoned a deal to buy the Australia dairy firm Lion Dairy and Drinks from Japanese company Kirin in August, after the Australian government indicated it would block the sale.  
 
The Chinese Embassy said in November that 10 Chinese investments had been blocked in Australia on national security grounds, among a list of 14 grievances Beijing had about Australian government policy.    

China has since imposed dumping tariffs on Australian wine and barley, and restricted the unloading of Australian coal at Chinese ports.  

FILE – A staffer and visitor speak near a display of Australian wines at the China International Import Expo in Shanghai, Nov. 5, 2020. China raised import taxes on Australian wine, stepping up pressure on Australia over several disputes.

 Chinese investment in Australia peaked at A$16.5 billion in 2016, spanning agriculture, transport, energy utilities, healthcare, mining and property, the ANU study showed.  

By 2020, 86% of Chinese investment in Australia came from the Australian subsidiaries of Chinese companies. 

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Chinese investment in Australia plummets amid tensions – Economic Times

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Chinese investment in Australia fell by 61% in 2020 to the lowest level recorded by the Australian National University in six years, coinciding with a worsening diplomatic dispute.

The annual tracking study from the university’s East Asian Bureau of Economic Research recorded A$1 billion ($783 million) of Chinese investment in 2020, consisting of real estate (45%), mining (40%) and manufacturing (15%) deals.

The fall was larger than the 42% decrease in foreign direct investment globally measured by the United Nations amid the COVID-19 pandemic, said Shiro Armstrong, the bureau director.

“It reflects the effects of COVID but also more scrutiny of foreign investment by the Australian government, particularly that from China,” he said.

Australia announced a shakeup of its foreign investment laws in 2020 to give the government the power to veto, or force the sale of a business if it creates a national security risk.

Treasurer Josh Frydenburg said in June the national security test would be applied to telecommunications, energy and utilities firms, and businesses that collect data.

Chinese company Mengniu abandoned a deal to buy the Australia dairy firm Lion Dairy and Drinks from Japanese company Kirin in August, after the Australian government indicated it would block the sale.

The Chinese embassy said in November that 10 Chinese investments had been blocked in Australia on national security grounds, among a list of 14 grievances Beijing had about Australian government policy.

China has since imposed dumping tariffs on Australian wine and barley, and restricted the unloading of Australian coal at Chinese ports.

Chinese investment in Australia peaked at A$16.5 billion in 2016, spanning agriculture, transport, energy utilities, healthcare, mining and property, the ANU study showed.

By 2020, 86% of Chinese investment in Australia came from the Australian subsidiaries of Chinese companies.

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Al Gore’s Investment Firm Bought Alibaba and Airbnb Stock. Here’s What It Sold. – Barron's

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Generation Investment, which former vice president Al Gore co-founded, bought Alibaba, Airbnb, and Equifax stock, and sold most of its stake in Aptiv in the fourth quarter.


Qilai Shen/Bloomberg

Generation Investment Management, the investment firm co-founded and chaired by former vice president Al Gore, recently made some significant changes in its U.S.-traded stock investments.

Generation initiated investments in

Alibaba Group Holding

(ticker: BABA) and

Airbnb

(ABNB) stock, bought more shares of credit-reporting firm

Equifax

(EFX), and sold most of its holdings in auto-parts supplier

Aptiv

(APTV). The firm disclosed the stock trades in a form it filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Generation, which had assets under management of $30.7 billion at the end of 2020, declined to comment on the investment changes.

The firm bought 1.5 million Alibaba American depositary receipts in the fourth quarter. It hadn’t owned any ADRs of the Chinese online giant at the end of the third quarter.

Alibaba ADRs rose 9.7% in 2020, and they are up 2.2% so far this year through Friday’s close. In comparison, the

S&P 500 index,

a broad measure of the market, rose 16.3% last year, and is up 1.5% so far in 2021.

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Alibaba got a boost earlier this month from strong fiscal-third-quarter earnings. Also in February, Ant Group, of which Alibaba owns a third, reached a deal with Chinese regulators that could clear a path to an initial public offering. Ant’s IPO had been suspended in November after Chinese President Xi Jinping reportedly personally scuttled it. Jack Ma, Alibaba’s co-founder and the controlling shareholder of Ant Group, had disappeared from public view for several months before reappearing in January.

Airbnb stock’s IPO was in December, and priced shares at $68 each. Generation bought 200,000 shares of the online platform for property rentals.

Airbnb stock more than doubled from its IPO price by the end of 2020, and so far in 2021, it is up 40.6%.

Aribnb stock surged after reporting its first quarter as a public company. Earlier this month one analyst downgraded Airbnb stock, and wrote that he “couldn’t justify” the lofty valuation of the shares. Airbnb’s successful IPO could nudge rivals to look at ways to unlock value.

Equifax stock soared 37.6% last year, but has slid 16.1% year to date.

Equifax’s fourth-quarter report earlier this month topped expectations, and Credit Suisse analyst Kevin McVeigh wrote in a research report that the company’s reintroduction of a share-buyback plan supports a bull thesis on the shares. McVeigh rates Equifax stock at Outperform with a $215 target price. Needham analyst Mayank Tandon, who also has a $215 target price, and a Buy rating on Equifax stock, wrote that HR services unit Equifax Workforce Solutions as “a strong tailwind for growth.”

Generation bought 3.6 million more Equifax shares in the fourth quarter to lift its holdings to 5.7 million shares.

The firm slashed its investment in Aptiv by more than three-fourths, selling 5.2 million shares in the quarter to end 2020 with 1.5 million shares.

Aptiv stock soared 37.2% in 2020, and year to date it is up 15.0%.

Aptiv supplies solutions for self-driving cars, a business that at least one analyst thinks investors are too bullish on. Aptiv recently formed a joint venture with Hyundai for autonomous vehicles.

Inside Scoop is a regular Barron’s feature covering stock transactions by corporate executives and board members—so-called insiders—as well as large shareholders, politicians, and other prominent figures. Due to their insider status, these investors are required to disclose stock trades with the Securities and Exchange Commission or other regulatory groups.

Write to Ed Lin at edward.lin@barrons.com and follow @BarronsEdLin.

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