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‘New buyer found’ for ailing Monetas blockchain firm

Johann Gevers

Monetas founder Johann Gevers told investors he has found a replacement buying after an earlier deal fell through. (Nik Hunger) - Click to enlarge

Troubled Swiss blockchain payments firm Monetas has found a new mystery buyer to pull it out of the mire, swissinfo.ch has learned. The company has run into major problems in the last few months, including enforced bankruptcy proceedings and the acrimonious failure of a previous takeover.

“We are in the process of completing the purchase formalities with a buyer of Monetas. If everything goes forward as planned, we will be able to share details with you soon,” Monetas founder Johann Gevers wrote in a note to investors on March 31.

Gevers was not available to comment on the new deal. A court in Zug had earlier this year placed Monetas in the care of a trustee and agreed to delay new bankruptcy proceedings until the end of this month to give the firm time to find a solution for its problems.

This followed the collapse of a proposed buyout by American investment group Artillery One in February. The CHF2 million ($2.06 million) sale of Monetas’s Anguilla-based parent company, which holds the code and intellectual property rights of the Zug-based operating firm, fell through with each side blaming the other for reneging on the terms of the deal. The legal fall-out of that dispute is ongoing.

Other emails from Gevers to shareholders, seen by swissinfo.ch, indicate that he was willing to accept offers of at least CHF800,000 for the Zug-based firm and CHF2 million or above to also take control of the Anguillan holding entity.

He also stated that Monetas Zug owed creditors CHF300,000 and CHF400,000 to refund the Artillery One down payment. In addition, he admits that there may be unspecified legal costs associated with the failed buyout deal.

Turbulent recent history

Gevers also wrote that he had loaned Monetas Zug CHF700,000 to keep it going through difficult times. But he indicated that he would be prepared to write off all but CHF300,000 “to make the deal more attractive to the buyer”. Gevers proposes using the proceeds of a buyout to pay off creditors.

The operating arm of Monetas was first established in Vancouver, Canada, in 2012 but moved to Zug a year later. It announced its first concrete deal with the Tunisian Post Office to provide blockchain payments services in the north African country, but this fell though.

In October of last year, swissinfo.ch learned that Monetas had spent the CHF10 million ploughed in by investors and had run out of liquidity, forcing the company to let go of most of its staff. Two months later, Monetas was placed into enforced bankruptcy proceedings, which were lifted in January with Artillery One lined up as a buyer. When that deal collapsed the courts appointed a trustee to take charge of Monetas Zug until at least the end of this month.

In February, Gevers stepped down from an unrelated role as president of the Tezos Foundation. This followed a bitter months-long row between Gevers and the Tezos founders.

Full story here
Matthew Allen
When not covering banks, tax disputes, trade, Brexit, the World Economic Forum and FIFA, swissinfo.ch's business correspondent can be found playing cricket on various grounds in Switzerland - including the frozen lake of St Moritz. Initials: mga
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