Bob Diamond units sights on rivalling TikTok with social media start-up

Former Barclays boss Bob Diamond is seeking to tackle TikTok as chair of a social media start-up that claims to be price greater than $3bn, regardless of income of solely $36mn and fewer than $1mn in money available final 12 months. The brand new course for the financier comes after video platform Triller agreed an all-share takeover by AGBA, a small US-listed Hong Kong-based monetary companies platform with a controversial previous. Diamond, who has chaired AGBA since September, will serve in the identical capability on the mixed entity.Shares in AGBA have leapt greater than 400 per cent for the reason that deal was introduced on April 18. In a press launch and presentation discussing the deal, AGBA stated Los Angeles-based Triller had been independently valued at $3.2bn and that the mixed group could be price $4bn “on a professional forma foundation”. Triller shareholders will maintain 80 per cent of the shares.However based mostly on AGBA’s share value of 40 cents earlier than the deal information broke, the 407mn shares it will problem suggest Triller agreed to be acquired for $163mn. The Los Angeles-based group reported revenues of simply $36mn within the 9 months to September and losses of $131mn. AGBA reported a web lack of $49mn on revenues of $54mn final 12 months and money available of $1.8mn on the finish of December.The Triller foray is a departure for Diamond, who as soon as commanded a financial institution with a trillion-dollar stability sheet. He resigned from Barclays in 2012 after the Libor rate-rigging scandal and has since stored a comparatively low profile. Triller is a controversial — and minuscule — participant within the music trade. The beginning-up in 2019 introduced investments from a spread of well-known artists together with Snoop Dogg, The Weeknd, Lil Wayne and Kendrick Lamar. Then chief government Mike Lu made the daring declare that this “marks maybe probably the most important shift in music for the reason that creation of streaming”. The corporate has tried to capitalise on the backlash towards TikTok over its Chinese language possession, with Lu’s alternative Mahi de Silva in 2022 calling for each American to delete TikTok. Triller is now led by Bobby Sarnevesht.However Triller was accused of inflating its customers numbers and has been sued by the biggest music teams on the planet — Common and Sony — for failing to pay them royalties owed. Triller owed music firms $24mn on the finish of September however had solely $967,000 of money available, in keeping with a January regulatory submitting, wherein it reported it had raised $420mn. Since Diamond’s departure from Barclays he has principally caught to dealing in monetary companies. Earlier this 12 months he merged the UK mid-market dealer, Panmure Gordon, with a rival. Panmure is held by Atlas Service provider Capital, his funding automobile.Diamond declined to touch upon the merger of AGBA with Triller.Atlas has been an adviser to AGBA, for $83,000 a month — the identical quantity Diamond is receiving as chair of the monetary companies platform. Wing-Fai-Ng, group president of lossmaking AGBA who shall be chief government of the mixed group, advised the Monetary Occasions he had recognized Diamond for greater than a decade and thought of him “like household”. The Triller deal was introduced days earlier than President Joe Biden signed into regulation an initiative that may ban dominant video app TikTok from US app shops until its Chinese language dad or mum divests the enterprise. AGBA, initially a particular function acquisition firm arrange by a Hong Kong enterprise, and which is domiciled within the British Virgin Islands, has agreed to redomicile within the US as a situation of the merger. “We consider there’s a huge alternative in social media, in video sharing popping out in america within the subsequent 12 months or so and we consider that Triller is by far and away the perfect positioned firm to reap the benefits of that,” Ng, a former funding banker, advised the FT.Triller was billed as “a pioneering pressure within the intersection of know-how, leisure and commerce leveraging superior AI” in an AGBA investor presentation explaining the deal that stated the platform had greater than 450mn consumer accounts. Triller declined to debate its present traders. AGBA’s majority proprietor is managed by Taiwanese businessman Richard Tsai whose household based the Fubon Monetary empire. Tsai additionally holds a stake in Triller, in keeping with regulatory filings. AGBA got here into its present kind after it merged with troubled Convoy World following the Hong Kong funding adviser’s pressured delisting from town’s inventory alternate after failing to provide well timed accounts. Its troubles stemmed from its function on the centre of a 2017 scandal within the metropolis dubbed the “Enigma community” which highlighted an online of tightly-controlled cross-shareholdings in publicly listed firms within the territory. A number of former Convoy executives have been jailed for fraud in 2021.The brand new firm started buying and selling within the US in November 2022.

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