Last week, several media outlets had reported that SoftBank and Chinese internet giant Tencent were leading a pre-IPO funding round for Bitmain. The new information comes on the heels of a report that shows Bitmain unloaded most of its bitcoin (BTC) to accumulate bitcoin cash (BCH).
According to last week's story, SoftBank and Tencent invested an undisclosed amount of money in the world's most valuable bitcoin mining rig maker, bringing its valuation to about $15 billion a few weeks before its planned Hong Kong IPO.
Originally published on the Chinese platform QQ on August 4, 2018, the story was rapidly reproduced and reblogged around the world, It claimed that the funding round was made up of several investors including China Gold, SoftBank and Tencent.
Crypto news publication Cointelegraph reports, however, that following last week's widely syndicated story, an anonymous source reached out with a tip stating that neither SoftBank nor Tencent were actually involved in the pre-IPO funding round.
Responding to Bitcoin Magazine’s request for comment, Kenichi Yuasa of SoftBank's corporate communication office called the rumors “background talk” not worth mentioning, stating:
Neither the SoftBank Group Corp. nor the SoftBank Vision Fund were involved in the deal.
SoftBank has been noted for its interest in blockchain technology, having trialed a blockchain-based, cross-carrier telecom payment system in September 2017. Tencent, for its part, is now counted as a truly global tech player, having surpassed Facebook's market capitalization in 2017.
Investment from either of these behemoths would not only strengthen Bitmain's financial position but would also indicate to the market that they believe in its long-term growth potential.
Conversely, if the story was shared with an intent to deceive the market, this could lend credence to a growing number of voices that believe that Bitmain is not inhabiting the fantastic market space it claims to be.
Blockstream Chief Strategy Officer Samson Mow is one of those voices. On August 11, 2018, Mow posted a tweet showing Bitmain's Q1 2018 results with the following comment:
Why is Bitmain raising capital so fast & only showing Q1 results to pre-IPO investors? We're well into Q3 now. The reason is Q2 was a disaster. Bitmain is sitting on a massive $1.24 billion in inventory & S9 prices dropped by ~85%! Q2 losses range in the $600-700 millions.
In response, other voices around the crypto world have also been speculating about Bitmain's exact market position. Some opine that it is possible that Bitmain is not being totally upfront about its market position, in essence sitting on an extensive inventory of unsold miners in a bear market and trying to use an IPO as an exit strategy to leave investors figuratively holding the bag.
Responding to a request for comment from Bitcoin Magazine Tina Dang from Bitmain's International PR and Communications Department said, "Unfortunately, we are unable to comment on these topics."
Updates to follow as this story develops.
Updated August 22: Bitcoin Magazine reached out to Coatue Management, a privately owned hedge fund included in Bitmain's investor base. Coatue said it "has no comment."
Investment powerhouse DST Global has also denied involvement in Bitmain. In an email reply to Cointelegraph, managing partner John Lindfors confirmed that "DST has never invested in Bitmain.