(Adds Tokyo court filing, details)
By Nathan Layne
TOKYO, April 11 A group of investors have
offered to take over the assets of Mt. Gox and revive the
bankrupt bitcoin exchange with the help of experts including the
investigative firm of a former FBI director, according to a
court filing in Japan.
The offer, filed with the Tokyo District Court last month,
marks the first time that anyone has submitted a proposal to
sponsor the rehabilitation of Mt. Gox since it sought bankruptcy
protection from creditors on Feb. 28.
The group, which includes former child actor-turned
entrepreneur Brock Pierce and venture capitalist William
Quigley, made the offer through a special purpose company
established in the Cyprus Republic, the court filing shows.
None of the principals of the company, called Sunlot
Holdings Ltd., could be reached for comment. Alpha Partners Law
Offices, which is representing Sunlot in Tokyo, declined to
The proposal did not include an offer price, although the
group said in the filing that it believed Mt. Gox's present
enterprise value was zero.
The Wall Street Journal, which first reported on the
proposal, said the group was seeking to buy Mt. Gox for a token
payment of one bitcoin, or about $400.
Mt. Gox shut down its exchange and filed for bankruptcy in
February. At the time it said hackers had stolen 750,000
bitcoins belonging to its customers and 100,000 of its own
bitcoins after exploiting a security flaw in its software.
But then in March Mt. Gox announced that it had discovered
200,000 bitcoins in an old-format online wallet, which it had
thought was empty, raising creditors' hopes of recovering some
of their lost digital wealth.
NEW MANAGEMENT, NEW SECURITY
The investment group proposed a new management team headed
by John Betts, who founded a data management firm and has held
positions in electronic trading at Morgan Stanley and Goldman
Sachs in the past, according to his LinkedIn page.
The group said it would develop a new trading and security
platform and review its relationship with banks as part of its
effort to revive the exchange. It also proposed a forensic
In the filing, the group listed Freeh Group International
Solutions, a firm established by former FBI director Louis Freeh
that has carried out a series of investigations into
high-profile scandals, among a team of advisers it planned to
tap for Mt. Gox.
No one at the Freeh Group could immediately be reached for
Under the group's proposal, creditors would have the option
of receiving payment from the 200,000 recovered bitcoins or
receiving the equivalent amount in equity in the new exchange,
according to the filing.
The group said it would set aside 50 percent of its
transaction fees to pay back burned customers and other
creditors over time.
The group did not disclose what amount, if any, it was
willing to put towards the operations of the revived firm. It
would need about $8 million for the first 18 weeks of its
revival plan, which would come out of Mt. Gox's cash until the
online exchange system is back up and running, the filing shows.
The group will consider acquisitions and an initial public
offering as part of a longer-term strategy for Mt. Gox, the
It is not clear whether the court will give Mt. Gox a chance
to revive with the help of a sponsor such as Sunlot Holdings.
A court-appointed administrator has until May 9 to report on
the results of an investigation into what led to Mt. Gox's
collapse and whether it meets the criteria for rehabilitation
under creditor protection or should be liquidated.
In the filing, the investor group said it had been in talks
with Mt. Gox about its operations since January 2013 and was in
negotiations about a stock transaction when the company filed
for bankruptcy protection this year.
(With Reporting by Supantha Mukherjee in Bangalore; Editing by
Sriraj Kalluvila and Jane Baird)