In the latest installment of the Bitmain saga, formerly ousted, recently reinstated co-founder Zhan Ketuan may be selling the company’s Beijing office just months after he forcibly gained control of the company’s mainland headquarters, according to Chinese media reports.
Why it matters: Things are once again getting weird at the world’s largest mining rig producer.
- A truce negotiated in late June is already falling apart, as the two rival co-founders are returning to their old bickering ways.
- Bitmain at its zenith was valued at $12 billion, but is now having trouble delivering products to customers. Meanwhile, a new entrant named MicroBT is snatching up market share.
Details: A lost property announcement appeared in Beijing newspapers: Zhan claims he lost the property deeds for Bitmain’s property in Zhongguancun. Based on the image posted by Chinese site Blockchain Real, this includes at least 30 contracts.
- If the contracts don’t turn up for a week, Zhan can apply to reissue them.
- Chinese media speculate that his rival, Wu Jihan, was in control of the contracts and Zhan came up with this scheme to take them.
- Zhan is allegedly having trouble servicing Bitmain’s debt to banks and suppliers.
Shots fired: In the other camp, Wu on Tuesday accused Zhan of stealing rigs from Bitmain’s Mongolia mining facility.
- Ten thousand Antiminers went missing from Bitmain’s Mongolia operations on July 15. At the time, the police hadn’t figured out who was behind the disappearance. The Chinese mining crypto community suspected Zhan.
- Zhan worked with two local accomplices to orchestrate the disappearance of the mining rigs, Wu said in a statement on Bitmain’s website.
- The rigs would have been transferred from the mining farm in Mongolia, which is wholly controlled by Zhan’s Beijing office, to one in Chongqing, which is controlled by Wu, the statement said. Zhan wanted to keep the assets for himself.
- The equipment has still not been found and may have already been resold. But Wu’s camp has taken “all appropriate legal measures.”
Context: The Bitmain battle started in October 2019, when Wu ousted Zhan in a coup.
- In early May, Beijing authorities re-appointed Zhan as CEO of Bitmain’s Beijing headquarters.
- But Zhan has remained at the helm in Bitmain’s Hong Kong procurement subsidiary. He also enjoys the support of the parent company’s board, based in the Cayman Islands.
- Since May, the two camps have been producing contradictory statements, stamped by rival official seals. They have been ordering employees not to listen to the other faction and publicly accusing each other of illegal behavior.
- The chaos and confusion have allegedly led to staff leaving the company