Bitstamp Founder Loses UK Court Bid to Prevent New Owner Buying His Shares

Nejc Kodrič must sell his remaining 9.8% stake in the crypto exchange, as agreed in 2018.

AccessTimeIconFeb 15, 2022 at 5:25 p.m. UTC
Updated Feb 18, 2022 at 5:23 p.m. UTC
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Jamie Crawley is a CoinDesk news reporter based in London.

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Nejc Kodrič, the founder of Bitstamp, must honor an agreement that allows the crypto exchange's new owner to buy his remaining stake, a U.K. High Court judge has ruled.

  • In a Feb. 3 ruling, Judge Eason Rajah found in favor of Bitstamp Holdings NV, a holding company owned by NXMH, the firm that acquired Bitstamp in October 2018.
  • Rajah will require Kodrič to sell his remaining 9.8% stake in the company, The Block reported Tuesday. Kodrič has transferred the shares to White Whale Capital, which he owns.
  • With the ruling, Bitstamp Holding's call option on the remaining shares – negotiated when it acquired the exchange – is upheld. A call option gives the holder the right, but not the obligation, to buy the shares at a predetermined price on or before a specified date.
  • Kodrič sought an injunction against the option, claiming it to have been terminated automatically when he transferred his shares to White Whale. The option would see Bitstamp Holdings acquire the shares for $13.46 million, a figure Kodrič claimed significantly underprices them.
  • Following its purchase of Bitstamp, NXMH initially retained Kodrič as CEO to manage the firm's operations. Two years later former Gemini managing director Julian Sawyer was hired as CEO, and Kodrič moved into a non-executive role with a seat on the board of directors.
  • The court ruling fully terminates Kodrič's role in the crypto exchange he founded in 2011.
  • "Bitstamp’s two major shareholders – NXMH and Nejc Kodrič – have a private shareholder matter which is being worked through," Sawyer said in an emailed comment.
  • Kodrič had not responded to a request for comment by publication time.

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Jamie Crawley is a CoinDesk news reporter based in London.