London-based blockchain infrastructure company SETL has filed for insolvency and is looking for “a larger financial services firm” to take on some of its holdings.
The news – revealed in a notice of insolvency filed today with the U.K. authorities – comes as something of a shock given that, last October, the startup company was granted a license by France’s securities regulator to operate a central securities depository (CSD) system using blockchain tech.
Update (12:10 UTC, March 7): This article has been updated with statements from a SETL press release received after publication.
The firm, which was co-founded by City of London trading veteran Peter Randall back in 2015, said in a statement:
“Having made an early investment in the development of ID2S [a benchmark test to meet CSD regulations] , SETL Development Ltd recognises that as an early stage technology firm it is not sufficiently placed to contribute the capital required. As such it is now now seeking to place its ID2S holding with a larger financial services firm, one better placed to provide the capital required to support the growth trajectory.”
SETL added that because of the “structural complexity and the need for a neutral party to represent the interests of all the current creditors and stakeholders”, the firm’s board has appointed Quantuma LLP as an independent administrator.
Around the time SETL was granted a CSD license, former Goldman banker Philippe Morel was appointed CEO. Back in 2015, the firm hired former executive director of the Bank of England Sir David Walker as its chairman.
Sir David said in the statement: “Separating the software development business from the investments portfolio is a highly complex process, requiring expert, experienced and neutral management of the interests of all the creditors and stakeholders. The directors are all fully engaged and aligned in this approach.”
According to Crunchbase, SETL has raised a total of $39 million in funding over three rounds. Its latest investment was raised in February 2018 via a corporate round in which banks including Citi and Credit Agricole became shareholders in the company, as well as tech firm Computershare.
Randall was previously founder and CEO of equities venue Chi-X Europe, which was later sold to Cboe Global Markets. He launched SETL back in 2015 with a focus on making wholesale payments faster and more efficient using distributed ledger technology.
Correction: This article previously used the term “bankruptcy” and has been corrected to say “insolvency.”