Bidding war for SVB Capital, new crypto funds and Citi’s private blockchain

The venture capital industry appears to be gearing up for portfolio rebalancing in 2024, with investors positioning themselves to increase exposure to digital assets in the next bull market. Blockchain Capital, for instance, closed two new funds this week, with $580 million in capital to be deployed in crypto gaming and decentralized finance projects. 

Likewise, SkyBridge Capital, Atlas Merchant Capital and Vector Capital are among the final bidders to acquire SVB Capital, the venture arm of the collapsed Silicon Valley Bank. SVB Capital is reportedly a backer of other major venture capital firms in the crypto space, including Sequoia and Andreessen Horowitz.

Meanwhile, Bitcoin-based investment products from mainstream financial giants are becoming more popular. Japan’s largest investment bank, Nomura, launched through its subsidiary, Laser Digital, a new Bitcoin (BTC) fund for institutional investors looking to cater to the demand for Bitcoin exposure.

A growing number of newcomers are also attracting funds. Web3 startup Bastion disclosed $25 million in a seed round to bridge Web3 infrastructure into enterprise technology. The round was led by Andreessen Horowitz, Laser Digital Ventures (Nomura’s crypto venture arm), Robot Ventures, Aptos Ventures and Alchemy Ventures.

This week’s Crypto Biz explores SVB Capital bids, new funds from Blockchain Capital, the Hut 8-US Bitcoin merger and Citigroup’s private blockchain.

Scaramucci leads bidding for Silicon Valley Bank VC arm: Report

SVB Financial Group, the former parent company of Silicon Valley Bank, is getting closer to a deal that will see the institution sell its venture capital arm, SVB Capital. According to a report from The Wall Street Journal, Anthony Scaramucci’s SkyBridge Capital and Atlas Merchant Capital are jostling with the San Francisco firm Vector Capital in the final stages of the bidding process. Sources claimed that SVB’s venture capital arm could be sold off for between $250 million and $500 million but warned that a final sale is not guaranteed and would still require the review of the creditor’s committee. SVB Capital conducts a wide range of investments, including backing other major venture capital firms, such as Sequoia and Andreessen Horowitz. The company is not part of SVB’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings, and a decision on the sale is expected in the coming weeks.

SVB Capital holdings overview as of December 2022. Source: SVB Capital

Hut 8 receives green light from Canadian Supreme Court for US Bitcoin merger

Canadian Bitcoin mining firm Hut 8 is set to wrap up its planned merger with US Bitcoin following final approval from the Supreme Court of British Columbia. Hut 8 and US Bitcoin announced the move in February 2023, subject to shareholder and regulatory approval. The merger will see the two companies form Hut 8 Corporation, or “New Hut,” which will become a publicly traded United States-based business. An initial announcement from Hut 8 highlighted that the merger would open up 825 megawatts of capacity across six different Bitcoin mining and data center facilities. New Hut also plans to list its shares on the Nasdaq and Toronto stock exchanges, trading under the ticker HUT.

Blockchain Capital closes funds totaling $580 million for investments in crypto gaming, DeFi

Venture capital group Blockchain Capital announced the closing of two new funds, totaling $580 million, for investment in infrastructure, gaming, decentralized finance (DeFi), and consumer and social technologies. The funds will operate as Blockchain Capital’s sixth early-stage fund and its first “opportunity fund,” which will serve as an entry point for companies that have already attracted funding. The funds will be split, with $380 million reportedly going to the early-stage fund and $200 million earmarked for the opportunity fund. The company did not specify which projects will be prioritized by the investment fund; however, a spokesperson noted that it has no plans to invest in artificial intelligence-related projects or act as a hedge fund. 

We’re thrilled to share the closing of 2 new funds – our 6th early stage fund and 1st opportunity fund.

Together, they total $580 million and serve to reinforce our commitment to leading the global transition to decentralized, blockchain-based systems. ↓https://t.co/Vr2uYnGlF7

— Blockchain Capital (@blockchaincap) September 18, 2023

Citi Token Services will provide payments, liquidity to institutional customers

Institutional clients can now access cross-border payments, liquidity and automated trade finance solutions through Citi Token Services, a private blockchain by Citigroup. According to the financial giant, its Citi Treasury and Trade Solutions is licensed in over 90 countries and has completed two pilot programs. It worked with Danish shipping company Maersk and an unnamed canal authority on a program that made instant payments to service providers via smart contracts, reducing transaction processing times from days to minutes. The service replaces bank guarantees and letters of credit, the statement said. A second pilot enabled clients to transfer liquidity between Citi branches, allegedly reducing “frictions related to cut off times and gaps in the service window.” Citi was among the large financial institutions that participated in a proof-of-concept headed by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York that concluded in July.

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