Business 8 March 2019

Dan Taylor

Blockchain firm SETL files for insolvency as search for new buyer begins

Blockchain infrastructure firm SETL is the latest blockchain company to declare insolvency, amid reports the firm is now looking to find a buyer.

In a development that has shocked analysts, the London-based firm revealed it had appointed administrators through a statutory notice in the London Gazette.

The news comes just a matter of months after SETL was awarded a French securities license. The license gives the firm the authority to act as a central securities depository (CSD) system powered by blockchain technology.

In a statement on the matter, SETL said its aims would be better served in the ownership of a larger financial services firm.

According to the company, “Having made an early investment in the development of ID2S, SETL Development Ltd recognises that as an early stage technology firm it is not sufficiently placed to contribute the capital required. As such it is now seeking to place its ID2S holding with a larger financial services firm, one better placed to provide the capital required to support the growth trajectory.”

The board appointed administrators Quantuma LLP to oversee the next steps, which are expected to include dividing the firm’s investments from its core software business.

Chairman of SETL, former Bank of England executive director Sir David Walker, said the firm’s directors were now devoted to working on this “structurally complex” process.

He noted, “Separating the software development business from the investments portfolio is a highly complex process, requiring expert, experienced and neutral management of the interests of all the creditors and stakeholders. The directors are all fully engaged and aligned in this approach.”

The news is a blow to investors, with the firm having raised some $39 million from investors including Credit Agricole and banking group Citi.

The firm, founded by former trader Peter Randall in 2015, was established to speed up wholesale payments through blockchain technology.

Widely considered a promising startup that was gathering momentum, the news the firm is now looking for a buyer is expected to be of interest to financial services firms who shares its aims of more efficient settlement on blockchain.

Note: Tokens on the Bitcoin Core (SegWit) chain are referenced as BTC coins; tokens on the Bitcoin Cash ABC chain are referenced as BCH, BCH-ABC or BAB coins.

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