Cboe files for Fidelity, Ark 21Shares accelerations as bitcoin ETF decision looms

Van Buren Capital’s Scott Johnsson noted that exchanges don’t file accelerations ahead of 19b-4 approval “unless the SEC specifically told them to”

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A Securities and Exchange Commission decision on spot bitcoin ETFs is expected Wednesday. 

Some, including Valkyrie’s co-founder Steven McClurg, believe that the SEC will grant approval to the spot bitcoin ETF proposals even after the regulatory agency’s X account was compromised on Tuesday. 

An “unknown party” accessed the account and posted that the agency had approved spot bitcoin ETFs. Fifteen minutes later, Chair Gary Gensler — from his own account — clarified that the post was “unauthorized” and that the agency had not issued a decision

On Wednesday, ahead of any sign of formal approval, the named exchanges began filing acceleration requests to list the spot bitcoin ETFs, pending approval.

While a notice of acceleration doesn’t point directly to approval, it shows the exchanges and issuers are seeking to launch the funds as soon as possible. It’s also one of the last administrative proceedings necessary, as previously reported by Blockworks.

Read more: On the morning of potential spot bitcoin ETF approval, here’s how we got here

Bloomberg Intelligence analyst James Seyffart told Blockworks these filings were expected. Such documents allow all prospective spot bitcoin ETF issuers to launch at the same time despite the array of deadlines across the proposals, he added — putting them “on the same timetable.”

The filings did, however, come slightly ahead of schedule. They had largely been expected after trading hours. Scott Johnsson, a general partner at Van Buren Capital, said in an X post that the acceleration events need to be “on EDGAR by 5:30 p.m. Wednesday to be considered filed.”

Cboe first filed a notice for Ark 21Shares. The Jan. 10 deadline for the spot bitcoin ETFs is actually in focus because of the proposal, which has a hard deadline of Wednesday. It then filed for VanEck, Invesco Galaxy, Fidelity, Franklin Templeton and WisdomTree. Cboe was the most popular pick for spot bitcoin ETF proposals, with six issuers naming the exchange.  

“A national securities exchange doesn’t request acceleration to list securities before a 19b-4 order is even issued unless the SEC specifically told them to,” Johnsson said.

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Following Cboe’s acceleration filings, the exchange also posted new issue notifications. The purpose of the notifications are to inform investors when a new product comes to market. It is not, however, an indication that the SEC has issued a formal approval for the ETFs. 

The notifications were sent out for the six funds planning to list on Cboe and state that the funds will be available for trade on Jan. 11.

Nasdaq and the New York Stock Exchange have not issued notifications or filed for acceleration events for their funds at time of publication.

Ark re-filed its S-1 on Wednesday, lowering its fee to 21 basis points, or 0.21%, from 25 bips. Blackrock also filed to lower its fee to 25 basis points. Both firms announced waivers, with Ark waiving the fee for six months or $1 billion and BlackRock lowering its fee to 0.12% for the first 12 months or $5 billion.

Read more: Bitcoin ETF war enters end game: BlackRock, Ark cut planned fees

The two firms are not the only ones to announce fee changes ahead of a decision, with Fidelity, WisdomTree, Valkyrie and Bitwise also revealing fee changes earlier this week. Bitwise has the lowest fees of the bunch, coming in at 20 basis points (with a waiver for the first six months or $1 billion), while Grayscale has the highest at 1.5%. 

While Hashdex has yet to submit an amended S-1, they’re notably on a different path than most of the other filers. Similarly to Grayscale — though not the same — they’re looking to convert their bitcoin futures ETF into a spot bitcoin ETF under the same ticker, “DEFI.”

“As a result, the timing of its filings won’t match others, but that does not mean it’ll necessarily impact timing of approval relative to others,” a source close to Hashdex told Blockworks, 

Last week, when the exchanges filed updated 19b-4s — another filing necessary for the ETFs launch — Hashdex was included in the updates.

Updated Jan. 10, 2024 at 2:30 pm ET: Added context about Cboe issue notifications.


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