Today VAKT, the blockchain platform for post-trade energy, appointed Etienne Amic as its first permanent CEO. Amic spent more than seven years as a managing director at JP Morgan Chase and just over a year at Mercuria, one of VAKT’s shareholder. Since VAKT’s formation at the start of last year, the interim CEO position was filled by John Jimenez, CFO of North America Gas & Power at BP. But he returned to BP at the beginning of 2019.
Perhaps the most relevant part of Amic’s resume is his stint as co-founder and Chairman of Vortexa which provides analytics for the oil trade. The website states Vortexa provides “unparalleled transparency into nearly every seaborne oil movement”. Amic holds a degree in theoretical physics.
VAKT went into production in November last year. It has a heavyweight list of investors including energy majors BP, Equinor, Shell, Chevron, Total and Reliance Industries, traders Gunvor, Koch and Mercuria, and banks ABN Amro, ING and Société Générale. Together they’ve backed the company to the tune of $33m. The company shares seven shareholders with komgo the blockchain platform for commodities trade finance.
One question is what does VAKT cover? “This is not a trading platform, nor a settlement platform – there is no cryptocurrency involved. But it is everything in between: deal recap; confirmation; contract; logistics (the really big element in all this) — and invoicing,” Lyon Hardgrave VP of VAKT told Platts. So it manages the cycle from (post) trade entry to final settlement to eliminate reconciliation and paper-based processes.
Commenting on his appointment, Mr. Amic said: “For some years now I’ve steered my career according to the knowledge that technology will fundamentally change the physical commodities market. I was aware of VAKT from the start, but what impressed me was the success the company has had as a creation by a consortium of traders. To have such prestigious companies pulling in the same direction – many of them competitors – tells you this is something very powerful that the industry really needs.
“In essence, physical trading is the negotiation of promises to deliver a commodity of a well-defined quality, at a specified location and at a given date. Often, there are terminal or pipeline operators involved, acting as de facto physical clearinghouses, and service providers such as port agents and inspection companies helping the material to move along and checking its physical characteristics. The goal of VAKT is to facilitate all these contributions seamlessly and ‘on platform’. That’s a vision I was excited to be part of and I am looking forward to the challenge.”