BlackRock iShares alumnus joins digital asset investment manager ahead of Europe’s first spot Bitcoin ETF launch

The ETF specialist, who was instrumental in building out BlackRock’s iShares offering, joins Jacobi Asset Management as CEO to drive forward its digital asset ETF ambitions. 

Former BlackRock alumnus Martin Bednall will join a next-generation digital asset investment manager Jacobi Asset Management as CEO, starting 1 August. The outgoing CEO, Jamie Khurshid, becomes chairman of the board.

Bednall has spent the past eight years as managing director of London-based FinEx Capital Management, a role that he will continue. Prior to that, he spent over 13 years in various roles at BlackRock including as co-head of the iShares product team.

“I am absolutely delighted to join Jacobi at this very exciting and pivotal time in the digital asset market, and to build on the significant milestones already achieved by the founders,” said Bednall.

“A long-awaited development, spot ETFs are widely expected to act as a potential gateway for institutional investment in cryptocurrency.”

Jacobi is this month due to launch Europe’s first spot Bitcoin ETF. A long-awaited development, spot ETFs are widely expected to act as a potential gateway for institutional investment in cryptocurrency (currently limited in scale) due to the benefits of cost reduction, ease of access and more robust investor protection.

The launch of the new fund will place Europe ahead of the US, where the SEC continues to reject applications for spot Bitcoin ETFs (though it is more lenient with futures ETFs, several of which have been approved). In June it once again denied applications from Grayscale and Bitwise Asset Management, and has rejected over a dozen more since the start of the year.

Jacobi’s Bitcoin ETF, which was announced on 30 June 2022, received regulatory approval from the Guernsey Financial Services Commission (GFSC) in October 2021 and is due to begin trading on Euronext Amsterdam this August under the ticker BCOIN. Custodial services will be provided by Fidelity Digital Assets, with Flow Traders and DRW facilitating trading.

“We are excited to be acting as lead market maker for Europe’s first Bitcoin ETF, which is another milestone in the development of the institutional digital assets space,” said Edd Carlton, institutional digital asset trader at Flow Traders. “This is also aligned with the growing demand from institutional investors who are looking to diversify their portfolios by adding Bitcoin and other digital assets.”

“The launch of the Jacobi Bitcoin ETF is the beginning of an exciting roadmap for digital asset exchange-traded funds suitable for institutional, professional and sophisticated investors,” added incoming chairman Khurshid.

“Having the first Bitcoin ETF in Europe gives Jacobi a fantastic base on which to build more products and distribution avenues to provide the market with the institutional grade, regulated digital asset products it needs,” said Bednall.