Digital Currency Group Announces Plan to Purchase Shares of Grayscale Ethereum Classic Trust (OTCQX: ETCG)

Digital Currency Group (DCG), the parent company of crypto asset manager Grayscale Investments, said Monday it plans to purchase up to $50 million in shares of Grayscale’s Ethereum Classic Trust.

According to a press release, DCG — which is also the parent company of CoinDesk — will buy the shares on the open market with cash on hand.

The price of Ethereum Classic (ETC) tripled in May, reaching an all-time high of $177.26 before falling about 70% into the low $50s, where it remains today. Though ETC has returned 668% year-to-date — higher than ETH’s 163% gain — many crypto analysts saw the ETC rally as a speculative fever akin to the dogecoin (DOGE) frenzy rather than an informed investment based on the potential of blockchain technology.

D.A. Davidson analyst Gil Luria sees DCG’s move as an arbitrage play.

“Because of the volatility in crypto assets, DCG has opportunities to capitalize on disconnects between the price of its exchange-traded listings and the price of the underlying assets,” Luria wrote in an email to CoinDesk. “Since they own the underlying assets, they can sell those to acquire shares in the exchange-traded listings and capture the spread.”

DCG did not respond to requests for comment.

The company made a similar move to shore up shares of Grayscale’s flagship Bitcoin Investment Trust in March. The trusts are designed to give investors exposure to cryptocurrencies without the hassle of setting up a wallet or safeguarding cryptographic private keys.

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ETC was created in 2016 after a schism among Ethereum’s developers over how to handle a hack that resulted in a hard fork, which is a radical change in a protocol.

Since 2017, Grayscale has funded Ethereum Classic’s developers, donating over $1 million to the ETC Cooperative from the trust’s management fees. Developers have used the funding to add Ethereum-based updates to ETC and improve interoperability between ETC and its more mainstream cousin, ETH. Grayscale has committed to funding the ETC Cooperative at least through the end of 2021.

Despite the upgrades, Ethereum Classics functionality still pales in comparison to Ethereum’s, according to an analysis by researchers at brokerage firm eToro.