An Austrian cryptocurrency miner that mints bitcoins with green energy is weighing an initial public offering to fund an expansion outside its home country.
HydroMiner GmbH may list shares on London’s AIM stock exchange or similar markets for small and growing companies during 2018, according to Chief Financial Officer Davies Guttmann. The company is actively courting regulation in Austria and the U.K. to give investors confidence in the fast-growing cryptocurrency market, he said.
“I want investors to be able to invest in a company that is genuinely risky but that operates within a framework which is secure,” said Guttmann, who advised financial clients on issues including alternative investments from Zug, Switzerland, before joining HydroMiner.
As the power required to maintain cryptocurrencies climbs, companies have rushed to offer more efficient resources to support the blockchain technology. Renewable energy developers in Uruguay are courting Chinese bitcoin miners with the promise of green power. Little-known clean energy companies that say they’re entering the cryptocurrency business have seen their valuations soar.
The electricity needed by the global network of computers running the blockchain technology behind bitcoin has more than tripled in the last year to more than 37 gigawatt-hours a day, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. That’s equivalent to about 30 1.2-gigawatt nuclear reactors running at full capacity.
“Future growth rates of energy consumption depend on the efficiency of future mining machines, the difficulty of the consensus process and growth in the mining networks,” the London-based researcher wrote in a Jan. 10 report about Chinese energy risks to bitcoin. About 70 percent of bitcoins are mined in China and companies are looking to expand internationally.
Enter HydroMiner, which raised $2.8 million in an initial coin offering in November. The startup runs cryptocurrency servers at disused Austrian hydropower mills, which are outfitted with modular shipping containers that house servers and software.
“Our business is very scalable,” said Guttmann. He didn’t detail the scale of his ambitions for the IPO, saying only that the Vienna-based company wants to raise a “double-digit million” sum. “We will not be able to raise nearly enough money than we could use.”
HydroMiner is also in advanced talks to form joint ventures in Austria, Canada and eastern Europe. An agreement with a power utility or financial investor could be announced within months, he said.
In the long-term, Guttmann said HydroMiner aspires to be an infrastructure company inside the cryptocurrency industry by providing hardware, software and skills. Until then, it’s trying to build a clean reputation inside a bitcoin market still seen by some as a scam.
“This will not stay this way forever,” Guttmann said. “It’s not a healthy situation.”
HydroMiner is inviting “one of the top” international auditors in to review its books and equipment, according to the CFO, who said the company is profitable while declining to provide details.
“There’ll be a stage when investors look deeper,” he said.
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