UK to sell $100m in shares worth more than $600m to fund new UK tech fund
The UK government has signed a deal to sell its stake in a US-based bitcoin exchange to an investor led by a prominent investor in the blockchain technology.
In a joint statement on Monday, the government said it had agreed to sell shares in US-focused Bitcoin Investment Trust (BATS) to a US firm called Circle Capital.
The deal, which could close as early as next month, would create the world’s biggest bitcoin fund and one of the largest investment vehicles in the world.
It would be the first time a UK government-owned fund had sold a stake in an investment vehicle.
It comes amid increasing public concern about the security of the virtual currency, with some investors questioning whether it is secure.BATS said the transaction was not expected to have a material impact on its capital.
“The transaction has been fully transparent to all parties involved and the parties have made clear they are committed to pursuing the best outcomes for their respective investors,” Circle said in a statement.
“Circle is an international and growing technology leader and is looking forward to working with the UK government and the Bank of England to achieve our vision of building a world-class technology platform.”
The government has been increasingly worried about the rise of bitcoin, which is used to buy goods and services from retailers and other institutions, as more people increasingly turn to digital payments.
It last month imposed a temporary ban on its national currency, the pound sterling, after a report said it was susceptible to hacking.
Its decision to allow BATS shares to be sold on the open market has raised concerns that it may have failed to ensure the security and integrity of the platform.
Bats, which has raised more than £1.3bn from private investors, is an exchange and trading platform for bitcoin.
It is the second largest bitcoin exchange in the UK.
Its shares were bought by Circle, which holds more than 5% of BATS.
Circle has also announced plans to expand into new areas, including the US.
Its CEO, Jeff Garzik, is a prominent figure in the bitcoin community, who has also raised millions of dollars in venture capital funding.
He is a vocal critic of the cryptocurrency and has spoken out against its centralization.