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Crypto Firm Diginex Reaches Deal to Go Public in the U.S.

Liana Baker

(Bloomberg) -- Diginex Ltd., a Hong Kong-based cryptocurrency and blockchain services company, said on Wednesday that it is going public through a reverse merger with 8i Enterprises Acquisition Corp.

Diginex will be listed on Nasdaq following the deal with 8i, a so-called blank-check company, the companies said. The deal is poised to value Diginex at about $276 million including debt, according to a press release, which confirmed an earlier Bloomberg report.

Diginex’s Chief Executive Officer Richard Byworth said in a statement that the deal will give the company “broader market visibility.”

Diginex provides advisory services and develops blockchain tools for companies including payments firm Fidelity National Information Services Inc. It is also planning to launch a virtual currency marketplace, according to its website. 8i is a special purpose acquisition company, a type of firm that raises money with plans to buy or merge with other companies.

Cryptocurrency companies such as Diginex have been skipping initial public offerings and instead pursuing so-called backdoor listings to access public markets. IPOs can take longer to pull off and involve more regulatory hurdles. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission will still need to approve Diginex’s proxy filing.

Diginex shareholders will receive 20 million ordinary shares of 8i valued at $10 per share.

The cryptocurrency firm has been hiring executives to expand in the U.S. In February, Diginex said it brought on Will McDonough, a former Goldman Sachs Group Inc. vice president who previously started a brand-management company that has represented quarterback Tom Brady of the National Football League’s New England Patriots.

An agreement to bring on McDonough has not been finalized yet, however, and he has not started at the company. McDonough and his team are not part of this transaction, a Diginex spokeswoman said.

Diginex is betting that financial institutions and investors will increase their exposure to digital assets and the blockchain technology that underpins them, despite a major sell-off that has erased most of the cryptocurrencies’ market value over the past two years.

While some institutions are experimenting with products, many have steered clear because of an uncertain regulatory outlook and concerns over money laundering, market manipulation and cybertheft. Facebook said this month that it planned to introduce a cryptocurrency called Libra, a move that already has drawn scrutiny from U.S. lawmakers.

(Updates to change attribution to press release, adds details on executive’s hiring not being finalized, adds CEO quote.)

--With assistance from Dave Liedtka and Olga Kharif.

To contact the reporter on this story: Liana Baker in New York at lbaker75@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Daniel Hauck at dhauck1@bloomberg.net, Ben Scent, Amy Thomson

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