Europe attracts half of funds raised in coin offerings

The value of bitcoin has soared by 1,000 percent since the start of the year, despite a sharp fall yesterday. (Reuters)
Updated 01 December 2017
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Europe attracts half of funds raised in coin offerings

LONDON: Nearly half of the cash that has poured into newly issued cryptocurrencies in recent years has been raised in Europe, research published on Thursday showed.
The report by Atomico, one of Europe’s leading venture capital firms, found European-based entities have raised $1.76 billion through so-called initial coin offerings, or ICOs, since 2014, representing 46 percent of funds raised globally.
ICOs have become a bonanza for digital currency entrepreneurs. They have provided the fuel for a rapid ascent in the value of cryptocurrencies this year that has raised fears of a bubble that could burst, with bitcoin soaring more than 1,000 percent since the start of 2017.
Atomico’s research is based on data compiled by California-based TokenData and stretches back to 2014, although more than 90 percent of ICO activity has taken place this year, researcher Ricky Tan said.
Switzerland drew in nearly half of Europe’s total — $828 million or 47 percent of ICO funds in the region, mainly through firms registered in Zug, a low-tax region near Zurich that is also the domicile for many top commodities traders, Tan said.
By contrast, North America drew in $1.08 billion of ICOs, or 28 percent of a global market that raised around $3.8 billion through the issuance of new types of digital currency.
The report predicts that larger European venture firms will begin to participate in ICOs next year, reversing their historic resistance to what many have seen as unregulated competition to traditional venture funding.
Already, top-tier US venture capital firms such as Andreesen Horowitz and Union Square Ventures have actively invested in ICO fundraisings, along with some newer European funds such as Blueyard Capital of Berlin.
“But the region’s most established funds have yet to participate,” the Atomico report states. “This will change in 2018.”
ICOs function as an alternative to traditional, regulated means of fundraising through public stock market flotations or private investments by venture capitalists or other investors.
The new fundraising mechanism has flourished in unregulated markets where investment capital is scarce. China and South Korea have banned digital coin sales, while the US Securities and Exchange Commission is weighing up tougher rules.
Switzerland, along with Germany and Austria dwarf other parts of Europe with $976 million raised in terms of capital — three times the funding ICOs attracted in Central and Eastern Europe and four times greater than Britain and Ireland.
But when it comes to the number of ICO projects launched, Central and Eastern Europe are way ahead with 162 of the rest of the region, followed by 90 projects in Britain and Ireland.
 


Philippines’ richest man Henry Sy dead at 94

Updated 19 January 2019
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Philippines’ richest man Henry Sy dead at 94

  • Henry Sy had a net worth of $19 billion as of Friday, according to Forbes.com
  • Sy helped create mall culture in the Philippines

MANILA: The Philippines’ wealthiest man Henry Sy, who rose from being a penniless Chinese immigrant to leading a multi-billion dollar business empire, died on Saturday, his conglomerate has announced.
The 94-year-old, from the Chinese city of Xiamen, made his fortune with a Philippine shopping center conglomerate that has put up some of the largest malls in the world.
However his holdings also included banks, hotels and real estate in the Philippines, as well as shopping centers in China.
He had a net worth of $19 billion as of Friday, according to Forbes.com.
Forbes said he was the 52nd richest person in the world last year, beating out bold name tycoons like Elon Musk, Rupert Murdoch and George Soros.
“Henry Sy ... passed away peacefully in his sleep early Saturday morning. There are no further details at the moment,” his SM group said in a statement.
Sy put up his first shoe store in downtown Manila in 1956, a business which later grew into a diversified empire.
He stepped down as chairman of his holding firm in 2017, assuming the title of “chairman emeritus” and leaving trusted allies as well as his children in charge of his empire.
It was a long journey for a man who came to the Philippines as a boy to work in his immigrant father’s variety store.
“Our store was so small it had no back or second floor, we just slept on the counter late at night after the store was closed,” he told the Philippine Star newspaper in 2006.
After their shop was destroyed during World War II, Sy’s father returned to China but Henry chose to stay in the Philippines.
He got a commerce degree from a Manila university and started selling shoes in a shop which would later grow into a chain named “ShoeMart.”
By 1972, his shops had branched out into selling all manner of goods, prompting the name to be changed to SM Department Store.
But it was in 1985 that Sy made history when he opened his first “Supermall” in Manila.
Spanning over 424,000 square meters (4.6 million square feet), the mall included dozens of stores, numerous cinemas, restaurants, banks and other attractions that made it a one-stop shop for millions of Filipinos.
This was just the start, as more of Sy’s mammoth malls popped up across the country, some even containing ice skating rinks, a rarity in the tropical country.
Sy helped create mall culture in the Philippines, where steamy temperatures and the regular threat of torrential downpours can make outdoor shopping uncomfortable.
Sy’s holding company, SM Investments Corp. opened its first mall in China in 2001 and has been expanding there as well.
By 2018, SM said it had 70 malls in the Philippines and seven in China as well as six hotels and eight office buildings.
Sy’s empire has earned its share of criticism from labor groups, who say it uses thousands of contractual hires to avoid paying higher wages and benefits that permanent workers are entitled to.
SM officials have insisted that they do not engage in so-called “contractualization,” but say they hire “seasonal” workers for peak periods like Christmas, back-to-school and even weekends.