Shares plunge in Japan after hedge fund manager’s latest investment

A fund manager in Japan has invested nearly $500 million in the cryptocurrency market, including a $1 billion bet on bitcoin.

John Gage, who was formerly the head of hedge fund at private equity firm Keefe, Bruyette & Woods, said he was taking the money to “support the growth of the crypto industry”.

He made the announcement in Tokyo on Wednesday, where the yen has been at an all-time high against the dollar, and the Japanese central bank has raised interest rates.

He said the bet on the cryptocurrency would allow him to invest “more in crypto assets that are undervalued” and invest in “better” companies, according to the Financial Times.

“We believe bitcoin is the future of finance,” he said, referring to the cryptocurrency.

“It’s just an incredible opportunity for the world to move away from the fiat currency model, where banks and central banks can act as a giant cartel that controls the flow of money and the flow in and out of our economy.”

The fund manager, who is based in Tokyo, said that he was also looking at other sectors for investments, including infrastructure, health and consumer products.

Mr Gage is one of more than 30 hedge fund managers and other investors who have bet on cryptocurrency assets since last year.

The market value of bitcoin at the end of March was about $US1.2 billion.

Mr Keefe is the biggest investor in a Japanese bitcoin exchange that is widely known as Mt Gox.

“Our fund is investing in the crypto economy because we believe it is the best vehicle for growth and the greatest growth opportunity for consumers and the economy,” Mr Keefe said in a statement.

“This investment will not only help support the growth and prosperity of the cryptocurrency economy, but will help drive further innovations in this space.”

Mr Keefer has invested in cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, Ripple and Ethereum, and is one a number of investors in the so-called “crypto gold” sector, which has attracted interest from companies such as Tesla and Apple.

He also has stakes in digital currencies like Ripple, a payment network that lets consumers pay for goods and services in digital currency.

“The fund is also investing in companies that are developing these technologies,” he added.

In a separate interview on Tuesday, Mr Keefer said he would not be selling his stakes in Mt Gaxx or other bitcoin companies, but would focus on cryptocurrencies.

“I don’t have a long-term position in any of the companies,” he told CNBC.

“It’s a long process.”

The currency’s recent volatility, along with fears over cyber attacks, have made the currency more attractive than its peers in other markets.