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HomeMarketBill Ackman on the Sunny Side of Crypto

Bill Ackman on the Sunny Side of Crypto

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Crypto may be crashing, but Bill Ackman is upbeat. In a series of tweets last Sunday, the investor behind Pershing Square Capital Management compared crypto’s potential to that of the telephone and the internet: “I was initially a crypto skeptic, but after studying some of the more interesting crypto projects, I have come to believe that crypto can enable the formation of useful businesses and technologies that heretofore could not be created.”

He pointed to decentralized Wi-Fi, built around blockchain technology, by start-up Helium. A person familiar with his investments says he hadn’t invested in Helium, which recently came under fire after claiming its technology was used by
Salesforce
and e-scooter rental company
Lime,
which both companies denied.

Ackman said he’s a small investor in ORIGYNTech, which uses blockchain to digitally certify luxury objects, and Goldfinch Finance, which facilitates decentralized lending of undercollateralized loans. He’s also invested in seven crypto funds and companies that provide tax compliance and fraud reduction, a timely idea. Crypto accounts for less than 2% of his net worth, he said, insisting he wasn’t trying to pump up specific projects.

Ackman’s tweets came in the wake of the collapse of crypto exchange FTX. While not addressing FTX specifically, he tweeted, “All legitimate participants in the crypto ecosystem should therefore be highly incentivized to expose and eliminate fraudulent actors, as they greatly increase the risk of regulatory intervention that will set back the positive potential impact of crypto for generations.” Can’t argue with that.

Write to Carleton English at carleton.english@dowjones.com

Last Week

The Turkey Trot

Thanksgiving markets searched for things to be thankful for, but it was heavy going. Covid in China surged; a railroad union rejected a White House deal, threatening a pre-Christmas strike; and Virginia saw another mass shooting. Stocks and retail earnings were mixed. Zoom Video Communications and Peloton Interactive saw more declines, Dell Technologies and HP Inc. offered gloomy PC outlooks, while Best Buy and Dollar Tree raised forecasts. Federal Reserve minutes aired the possibility of smaller interest-rate hikes. On the week, the
Dow Jones Industrial Average
rose 1.8%, to 34,347.03; the
S&P 500
was up 1.5%, to 4026.20; and the
Nasdaq Composite
eked out a 0.7% gain, to 11,226.36.

Non-Zero Covid

Lockdowns hit record highs in China. Authorities stepped in to recruit workers for Foxconn’s Apple iPhone factory, as protests over conditions and pay erupted. Reuters said China was set to hit Ant Group with a billion-dollar fine, bringing its two-year-old regulatory review of the Alibaba Group fintech spinoff to an end. Oil fell on growth fears and speculation that OPEC+ might hike production at its Dec. 4 meeting, restoring some supply before Europe moves to embargo Russian crude and the G-7 imposes price caps.

The Corporate Shuffle

Walt Disney, mired in red ink and a share price off 40% for the year, fired CEO Bob Chapek and bought back Bob Iger, his long-term predecessor. Iger’s mandate: rethink strategy, particularly in the money-losing streaming business, and find a successor. Chapek’s senior executives apparently complained to the board that he had marginalized them. Over at Twitter, Elon Musk brought back Donald Trump and Ye (formerly Kanye West), fired more staff, and saw more executives walk. Musk said he’s now done with layoffs.

The Winter War

It’s winter in Ukraine. Ukrainian officials said their forces launched an assault on the Kinburn Spit, a peninsula that Russia has used to restrict Black Sea access and to hammer the region with artillery. President Volodymyr Zelensky urged energy conservation after relentless missile and drone attacks knocked out heat, water, and power.

Some Climate Change

COP27 ended in Egypt with mixed results. The richest countries finally agreed to a fund to help poorer countries cope with climate change. But Russia and Saudi Arabia resisted deeper cuts on fossil fuels and emissions.

Annals of Deal Making

Crypto broker Genesis Global reportedly was trying to raise a billion dollars to keep itself out of bankruptcy. An FTX attorney said at the start of its first bankruptcy court hearing that “substantial amounts” of assets “have either been stolen or are missing.” The judge allowed creditors to remain anonymous for now…BHP Group raised its offer for Australian copper miner OZ Minerals to $6.4 billion…Merck said it would buy Imago BioSciences, which specializes in blood diseases, for $1.35 billion…Politico reported that the FTC will sue to block Microsoft’s $69 billion takeover of Activision Blizzard.

Write to Robert Teitelman at bob.teitelman@dowjones.com

Credit: marketwatch.com

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