Roy Sebag exits cryptocurrency market

Roy Sebag Photo: David Lee

The Israeli-Canadian businessman says that he now has no exposure to crypto holdings other than his stake in Bitfarms.

The cryptocurrency market has lost quite a few investors over the past year following the slide in the values of digital currencies and last week it lost another of its known supporters - Israeli-Canadian businessman Roy Sebag, 33.

"I have sold my bitcoin today from the prior trade. I have no crypto exposure currently other than my stake in Bitfarms," Sebag tweeted on Twitter last Wednesday. He holds 22.5% of the shares in Bitfarms (TASE: BLLCF), a Bitcoin mining company that will soon be delisted from the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange (TASE), as reported in "Globes" in January.

Bitfarms today reported that it would report a $19.1 million write-off in its 2018 financial statements "attributable mostly to the value of property, equipment, and intangible assets relating to cryptocurrencies mining."

Sebag is not alone in abandoning the cryptocurrencies market. Goldmoney, the Canadian company that he has controlled and managed since 2015, announced on Thursday that it was shutting down its business in the sector. Goldmoney, whose shares are listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange, was founded in 2001 as a company for investments in gold and precious metals. The company, whose offices are in Canada, currently holds precious metals worth $2 billion for customers from all over the world. In September 2017, with the great hype over digital currencies, Goldmoney began providing custody services for holdings in Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.

Up until last week, Goldmoney enabled its customers to buy and sell Bitcoin, Ether, and Bitcoin Cash, and to keep them safe in cold storage, which is not connected to the Internet. On Thursday, however, the company notified its customers that they would have to "liquify" their digital currencies into ordinary money (fiat money) or withdraw them to their private wallets. On that day, Sebag tweeted on Twitter, "As an entrepreneur, I also constantly fail. What I'm good at is cutting my losses and assessing the information resulting from a failure into order to change position and maintain momentum."

"A phase of boom and bust will come"

In addition to his holdings in Goldmoney and Bitfarms, Sebag is also a partner in Mene, an online jewelry trading company listed on the TSX Venture stock exchange in Toronto. He began his activity on the TASE in 2009 with the acquisition of software company Cidev, a stock exchange shell, for NIS 5.5 million, changed its name to Natural Resource Holdings (TASE: NRH), and put into it the activity of two gold and iron mines he acquired.

In December 2017, two months after National Resource announced its intention of switching to digital currencies activity, Bitcoin soared to a peak of $20,000. Sebag told "Globes" that month, "Do I think that Bitcoin is overpriced? Absolutely. I agree that it's a bubble, but you can't ignore the industry that's developing around it. It's a little like Silicon Valley in 1996; a boom and bust phase will come. It's a process of a growing industry." The deflating of the bubble duly came; the price of Bitcoin plummeted by over 70%, and currently stands at $3,960, according to figures from the CoinMarketCap website.

Bitfarms, which entered the TASE in April 2018 following a merger with Sebag's stock exchange shell, Blockchain Mining (formerly Natural Resource), will soon become a private company. When the process is completed, its holdings will be put into a new Canadian company named Bitfarms, which will offer its shares to the public on the Toronto Stock Exchange. On March 28, a shareholders' meeting will convene to approve the measure.

Bitfarms' share price has soared 215% this year, pushing the company's market cap up to NIS 127 million and the value of Sebag's holdings in the company up to NIS 28.7 million. At the same time, the company's value is 85% less than its value before the merger with Blockchain Mining in April 2018, when it was traded at a peak market cap of NIS 850 million.

Bitfarms operates four Bitcoin mining farms in Canada. Other than Sebag, the company's main shareholders are Nicolas Bonta and Emiliano Joel Grodzki, who own 28% and 30% of the company's share capital, respectively.

Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on March 10, 2019

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2019

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Roy Sebag Photo: David Lee
Roy Sebag Photo: David Lee
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