November 13, 2017 / 10:26 PM / a month ago

REUTERS SUMMIT-Institutional investors close to adopting bitcoin, says ex-Fortress exec Novogratz

(For other news from Reuters Global Investment 2018 Outlook Summit, click here)

By Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss, Lawrence Delevingne and Ross Kerber

NEW YORK, Nov 13 (Reuters) - Mike Novogratz, the former macro hedge fund manager at Fortress Investment Group who has joined the mad dash for crypto-currencies, said mainstream institutional investors are about six to eight months away from adopting bitcoin.

Novogratz said he expects major financial firms will soon start to offer bitcoin or similar products as an investment option, one that could be easily purchased over the phone.

“When it’s that easy, the price of bitcoin or ethereum is going to go much higher. And that is a lot closer than people think,” said Novogratz, who spoke at the Reuters Global 2018 Investment Outlook Summit in New York.

Novogratz is now chief executive of Galaxy Investment Partners, a firm that bets on cryptocurrencies and related businesses.

A turning-point product from a big financial firm could arrive within six months, he said, though he declined to name any specific company.

“The institutionalization of this space is coming. It’s coming pretty quick,” he said.

For the most part, institutional investors have stayed away from bitcoin, the original and largest crypto-currency in terms of market capitalization, despite outperforming all the world’s traditional currencies.

So far this year, bitcoin has soared nearly 580 percent.

Bitcoin surged on Monday to $6,487, recovering more than $1,000 after losing almost a third of its value in less than four days as traders bought back into the volatile cryptocurrency.

During that latest pullback, Novogratz said he bought $15 million to $20 million worth of bitcoins.

His biggest regret this year has been not buying more cryptocurrencies when prices fell, because he knew that they would keep going up.

He sees bitcoin, for instance, hitting $10,000 by March.

The former Fortress executive created his own crypto-hedge fund, putting in about $100 million of his own money. He hopes to raise about $500 million, making it the largest crypto-fund.

Novogratz said his own fund’s largest investment is in bitcoin, and said it has a “very big” holding of the ethereum. He declined to give the percentages of each holding, citing competitive reasons.

Follow Reuters Summits on Twitter @Reuters_Summits (Reporting by Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss, Lawrence Delevingne, and Ross Kerber; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

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