Investors and Creditors Unite in Push for Mt. Gox Revival

Nermin Hajdarbegovic
Apr 29, 2014 at 13:12 UTC
Updated Aug 20, 2014 at 17:33 UTC

A group of former Mt. Gox customers have not given up on a bold plan to revive the defunct bitcoin exchange. The claimants are already involved in two proposed class-action lawsuits against Mt. Gox and their lawyers claim to have reached a deal with US-based investors to prop up the exchange.

Details of the proposed settlement were filed with a District Court in Chicago on Monday. Under the proposed agreement the former exchange users would get a 16.5% stake in the ‘new’ Mt. Gox, while the investor group, Sunlot Holdings, would take over the company.

Notably, the documents also call for the cooperation of current company stakeholders and the New Mt. Gox in the “prosecution of the remaining defendants”, and a commitment by New Mt. Gox to “pursue strategies to recover the missing funds”.

The lawyers are expected to present their case before a judge on Thursday, but hurdles remain.

More approval necessary

Since Mt. Gox is incorporated in Japan and Japanese authorities are overseeing the bankruptcy proceedings, they would also have to green light the proposed deal.

Jay Edelson, counsel for the US class action, said:

“The settlement is contingent on the Japanese Courts accepting the purchase with the agreed-upon terms.”

Further, he stated that all former exchange customers, not simply those participating in the US and Canada class actions, will be able to gain from the proposal:

“Under the deal the 16.5% stake, for example, would be shared by all consumer creditors throughout the world. Non-consumer creditors who have claims are similarly not prejudiced.”

The hope is that the proposed deal would halt liquidation proceedings, which commenced last week. The whole process is expected to take several months and the first creditor meeting is scheduled for 23rd July, giving prosecuting legal teams ample time to put together their proposal and get the necessary support from bankruptcy trustees and authorities.

In everyone’s interest?

Sunlot Holdings has issued a statement arguing that a revival plan would help former users get back more of their assets than a simple liquidation. The company’s chief executive John Betts also believes it would be a good move for the community in general, as it would send the message that bitcoiners look after their own.

Sunlot Holdings also enjoys the support of Jed McCaleb, the original founder of Mt. Gox, as well as former Mt. Gox CMO Gonzague Gay-Bouchery. McCaleb already holds a 12% stake in the company, so he has a vested interest in putting Gox back on its feet.

Members of the US class action also stand to gain from the proposed deal. Liquidation can be a very lengthy process and would also derail the proposed class action suits.

Jay Edelson, the lawyer behind one of the proposed class actions, told MarketWatch that liquidation would “have been a disaster” for the class action, arguing:

“It would have taken significant time, the assets would have been depleted, and the US consumers would have gotten pennies on the dollar.”

Not giving up

Sunlot Holdings originally floated the idea of a Mt. Gox revival back in February, following talks with the exchange’s embattled CEO Mark Karpeles. The firm has already filed a comprehensive rehabilitation proposal with the Tokyo District Court, outlining its plans.

The proposed plan would give Sunlot Holdings control of Mt. Gox and cost $8m to implement. Sunlot claims it already enjoys the support of more than 70% of Mt. Gox’s consumer creditors.

Consumer creditors would receive some compensation, but since Sunlot Holdings puts the exchange’s outstanding debt balance at $421m, it is clear that they can’t expect much in the way of hard cash. They would, though, stand to gain a substantial stake in the new company – with liquidation they would not.