The Swiss stock exchange SIX has been looking to attract external investors for a 30% share in the SIX Digital Exchange (SDX), the digital asset initiative, which is due to launch in Q4 this year. Last week, Financial News (FN) reported that the COVID-19 crisis had resulted in investor discussions being slower than expected and the current valuation is uncertain given the climate.
“I’m not overly concerned by it because the rationale for doing it isn’t that SIX needs the money to invest,” said Thomas Zeeb, the Head of Securities & Exchanges at SIX Group, talking to FN. Instead, the aim is to attract investors that become committed customers reducing the risk of becoming a “white elephant”.
A spokesperson re-iterated to Ledger Insights that banks with more skin in the game would be more motivated to participate in the ecosystem. However, he emphasized there are no issues with the launch of the SDX platform and the timing is still on track for Q4.
Unrelated to SIX, in various recent Ledger Insights discussions, there have been reports of executives at financial institutions and in pharma being distracted by more pressing matters related to the crisis. So things going slower is understandable.
SIX is also in the process of acquiring Spanish exchange Bolsas y Mercados Españoles (BME), in a deal that’s expected to complete in May. Earlier this week, SIX sold part of its stake in payments firm Worldline for €675 million ($733m) as part of the funding for the BME transaction.
New leader, different title
Last year SDX CEO Martin Halblaub departed over strategic differences. One of the bones of contention was that SDX would no longer be a separate company from SIX. This would make it easier from a regulatory perspective.
Then last month it appointed Tim Grant as its “Head of Business”. At one point, Grant listed CEO on his LinkedIn profile but changed it to “Head”. The SIX spokesperson clarified that while Grant is effectively CEO, he doesn’t have the title because SDX is a division of SIX, not a separate entity.
Grant is the former CEO of startup DrumG and an ex-R3 executive. The SDX platform is based on R3’s enterprise blockchain Corda and a prototype was launched last year.
During the interim CEO stint of SIX executive Tomas Kindler, he completed several deals, including investing in daura the share registry and tokenization firm. This brought together the other big Swiss digital asset initiative involving Swisscom and Sygnum Bank. More recently, SIX invested in Omniex, which provides an investment and trading platform for digital assets.