Norwegian industrials-investing conglomerate Aker ASA is forming a new division to invest in Bitcoin and other blockchain technologies.
The formation of the unit, dubbed Seetee, comes with the blessing of Aker ASA's majority owner, Kjell Inge Rokke. The billionaire is Norway's second-richest man and controls Aker ASA, a holding company that invests in the energy sector.
Seetee is set to start with a 500 million Norwegian kroner ($58 million) investment that will work exclusively on Bitcoin.
The idea is to work on Bitcoin mining that utilizes stranded or intermittent electricity without stable local demand. It announced a partnership with the Canadian Bitcoin mining and software services firm Blockstream.
Seetee will also use Bitcoin as a treasury asset, and will keep all liquid assets in the cryptocurrency. The firm is also running open-source Bitcoin payment servers and pledged to contribute to the open-source codebase.
"In Bitcoin speak, we will be hodlers," Rokke wrote in a 23-page letter to shareholders that laid out his investment thesis.
Aker joins other listed companies, from Square and Tesla to MicroStrategy and Mass Mutual, in putting Bitcoin on its balance sheet. But its entry to the sector differs because it's setting up an operating business with diverse interests.
Rokke painted his firm's leap into the cryptocurrency industry as an attempt to keep his 180-year-old conglomerate relevant with the ability to "keep up with the times." The firm, which operates oil and gas and renewable energy businesses, among others, is still majority owned by Rokke and his family.
The conglomerate, which Rokke called "part of the industrial establishment," now had an opportunity to get involved in a new business that could be world defining.
"It positions itself in the middle of an industry that could define the next several decades, much like the internet has done since the early 1990s," he wrote.
Rokke said Bitcoin had the potential to become "the core of a new monetary architecture" where one unit of the cryptocurrency could be worth "millions of dollars."
The billionaire addressed Bitcoin mining's energy use, likening it to being an "economic battery" that could convert low-value electricity in one part of the world to an economic asset that can be used globally. This property could in turn be used to improve the economics for renewable energy projects, he wrote.
The executives joining Seetee are well-versed in energy markets. Among them are a pair of brothers who were Olympics rowers turned electricity traders. Sverke and Snorre Lorgen competed in the 1992 summer Olympics for Norway and have been longtime Bitcoin believers, according to Rokke.