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Cryptocurrency fund NextBlock scraps plans to go public, underwriter withdraws

November 06, 2017 - 11:22 AM

TORONTO - A blockchain-focused venture capital fund headed by a Toronto-based expert is abandoning plans to go public amid reports alleging it made misleading statements in its marketing materials.

NextBlock Global, whose chief executive is business author Alex Tapscott, said it is "no longer doing a go-public transaction" and is in the process of reaching out to investors to discuss next steps, including the return of their original investment.

"As a young company, we have stumbled in our efforts to take our company public and we will work hard to rebuild the trust of those we have disappointed," NextBlock Global said in a statement late Sunday.

NextBlock describes itself on its website as early stage investor of companies involved in blockchain, with a focus on infrastructure to support the technology. NextBlock had aimed to go public via a reverse takeover of Nobelium Tech Corp., which is listed on the TSX Venture Exchange.

The fund's statement on Sunday follows reports that NextBlock Global's investor presentation allegedly incorrectly named four people as its advisers.

Last week, Forbes reported that NextBlock in its efforts to raise $100 million named four blockchain experts as the fund's advisers, who told the publication they had not signed on in that capacity.

Forbes reported on Nov. 1 that NextBlock listed former U.S. Department of Justice prosecutor Kathryn Haun; blockchain entrepreneur and chief executive of startup Civic Vinny Lingham; Dmitry Buterin, the father of Canadian Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin; and Karen Gifford, a special adviser for global regulatory affairs at Ripple among its eight advisers. All four told Forbes that they were not NextBlock advisers.

On Monday, an underwriter on the planned NextBlock private placement pulled out. Canaccord Genuity's president of capital markets Patrick Burke sent an internal email to employees on Monday about its decision, and asked them to communicate the change to clients.

"As a result of ongoing developments related to the NextBlock private placement and consultation with our institutional clients, we have made the decision to withdraw participation from the private placement," Burke said in the email obtained by The Canadian Press.

NextBlock did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

This comes months after Tapscott and his father, Don Tapscott, launched the Blockchain Research Institute. The Toronto-based firm was launched in March, funded by companies and governments from several countries, with the aim of conducting research into blockchain use cases and opportunities in a variety of sectors including financial services, manufacturing and healthcare, the institute said then in a statement. Founding member companies who funded the initiative included Accenture, IBM and SAP, the institute said.

In addition to co-founding the institute, the Tapscotts also co-wrote the book Blockchain Revolution: How the Technology Behind Bitcoin is Changing Money, Business and The World.

News from © The Canadian Press, 2017
The Canadian Press

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