Norwegian billionaire ditches skepticism, invests in local crypto exchange

Norwegian billionaire investor Øystein Stray Spetalen made a 180° reversal in his opinions about cryptocurrency this month and now part-owns domestic crypto exchange MiraiEx.

Within the same month, Norwegian billionaire investor Øystein Stray Spetalen has gone from dismissing Bitcoin (BTC) as a “nonsense currency” to revealing that he has joined the board of Norway’s top domestic crypto exchange MiraiEx.

Spetalen’s former position was that cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin should be “immediately” banned by the Norwegian and European authorities due to the destructive effect that mining them has on the environment. In a pre-recorded interview screened at the DNB Invest conference on March 18, he said:

“Bitcoin today consumes as much energy as all of Norway. It is extremely environmentally hostile. The authorities and the EU should ban it immediately. Then you’d cut CO2 emissions considerably […] It’s just nonsense. We’re doing well with the payment systems that are in place today.”

Yet by March 26, in an interview with Norwegian newspaper Finansavisen, Spetalen had changed his tune. “When the facts change, I change,” he said, “I met the MiraiEx founders Thuc and Øyvind the day after the podcast was recorded, early in March, and I realized that I had been wrong.”

Norwegian cryptocurrency exchange and custodian MiraiEx had just raised 5 million kroner ($580,000) in late 2020 to further expand its operations. Aside from investing in a successful local exchange and joining its board, Spetalen has also apparently now bought Bitcoin, although in a lesser quantity than fellow Norwegian billionaire Kjell Inge Røkke has. Disclosing his unspecified investment in the top cryptocurrency, Spetalen said:

“When I also read that Kjell Inge Røkke had got into Bitcoin, it was quite obvious. I can’t bear to see that Røkke makes money and not me.”

Røkke serves as chairman of the $6 billion industrial holding company Aker ASA, which set up a dedicated unit for investing in projects and companies in the Bitcoin ecosystem in early March of this year. The unit has been initially capitalized with 500 million kroner (~$58.6 million) and plans to keep all its liquid investable assets in Bitcoin.

It has also recently been revealed that the $1 trillion Norwegian Government Pension Fund, also known as the Oil Fund and the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund, indirectly owns almost 600 Bitcoin through its investment holdings.

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