Univar Solutions to be Acquired by Apollo Funds for $8.1 Billion
DOWNERS GROVE, Ill. and NEW YORK, March 14, 2023
Shareholders to Receive $36.15 Per Share in Cash
DOWNERS GROVE, Ill. and NEW YORK, March 14, 2023 /PRNewswire/ -- Univar Solutions Inc. (NYSE: UNVR) ("Univar Solutions" or the "Company") and Apollo (NYSE: APO) announced today that funds managed by affiliates of Apollo (the "Apollo Funds") have entered into a definitive merger agreement to acquire the Company in an all-cash transaction that values the Company at an enterprise value of approximately $8.1 billion. The transaction includes a minority investment from a wholly owned subsidiary of the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority ("ADIA").
The agreement provides that Univar Solutions shareholders will receive $36.15 per share in cash, which represents a 20.6% premium to the Company's undisturbed closing stock price on November 22, 2022. The transaction consideration also represents a premium of 33.6% to the volume-weighted average price of Univar Solutions for the 30 trading days ending on November 22, 2022.
"We are pleased to have reached this agreement with Apollo, which will provide immediate and certain cash value for Univar Solutions shareholders," said Chris Pappas, chairman of the Univar Solutions Board of Directors (the "Board"). "The Board's decision follows a comprehensive review of value creation opportunities for Univar Solutions. We are confident this transaction is the right path forward and achieves our goal of maximizing value for Univar Solutions shareholders."
David Jukes, president and chief executive officer of Univar Solutions, said, "Over the last three years, we have transformed the Company, putting the customer at the center of all we do, which has solidified our position as a leading value-added service and solution provider. This transaction reflects the success of our strategy and delivers substantial value to our shareholders. It is a testament to the tireless efforts of my colleagues, whose commitment to our purpose of helping keep our communities healthy, fed, clean, and safe has enabled our success. In Apollo, we are pleased to gain a partner to support continued investment in our portfolio and I look forward to working closely with their team as we grow Univar Solutions and serve our key suppliers and customers globally."
Apollo Private Equity Partner Sam Feinstein said, "Univar is a global leader in specialty chemicals and ingredients distribution, fueling a vast array of industries with innovative, safe and sustainable solutions. In recent years, David and his team have made tremendous progress enhancing the customer experience, and we believe Univar can accelerate its long-term strategy as an Apollo Fund portfolio company. We look forward to leveraging our extensive experience in the sector to support management in this exciting next phase."
The merger agreement, which has been unanimously approved by the Univar Solutions Board of Directors, provides that Univar Solutions shareholders will receive $36.15 in cash for each share of common stock they own.
The transaction will be financed with equity provided by the Apollo Funds, a minority equity investment from a wholly owned subsidiary of ADIA and a committed debt financing package.
The transaction is expected to close in the second half of 2023, subject to customary closing conditions, including approval by Univar Solutions shareholders and receipt of regulatory approvals. The transaction is not subject to a financing condition.
Upon completion of the transaction, shares of Univar Solutions common stock will no longer trade on the New York Stock Exchange, and Univar Solutions will become a privately held company. Univar Solutions will continue to operate under the Univar Solutions name and brand and maintain a global presence.
The foregoing description of the merger agreement and the transactions contemplated thereby is subject to, and is qualified in its entirety by reference to, the full terms of the merger agreement, which Univar Solutions will file with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission as an exhibit to a Current Report on Form 8-K.
Goldman Sachs & Co. LLC and Deutsche Bank Securities Inc. are serving as financial advisors to Univar Solutions and Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz is serving as lead counsel to Univar Solutions.
Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP is serving as legal counsel to the Apollo Funds.
J.P. Morgan Securities LLC is acting as lead financial advisor to Apollo. BMO Capital Markets, BNP Paribas Securities Corp., Credit Suisse, Guggenheim Securities, LLC, HSBC Securities (USA) Inc., Mizuho Securities USA LLC, RBC Capital Markets, LLC and Wells Fargo Securities, LLC are also serving as financial advisors to Apollo.
Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP is serving as legal counsel to ADIA.
Additional Information About the Proposed Transaction and Where to Find It
This communication relates to the proposed transaction between Univar Solutions Inc. ("Univar Solutions" or the "Company") and funds managed by affiliates of Apollo Global Management, Inc. ("Apollo"). In connection with the proposed transaction, the Company will file relevant materials with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (the "SEC"), including the Company's proxy statement on Schedule 14A (the "Proxy Statement"). This communication is not a substitute for the Proxy Statement or any other document that the Company may file with the SEC or send to its shareholders in connection with the proposed transaction. BEFORE MAKING ANY VOTING OR INVESTMENT DECISIONS, INVESTORS AND SHAREHOLDERS OF UNIVAR SOLUTIONS ARE URGED TO READ CAREFULLY AND IN THEIR ENTIRETY ALL RELEVANT DOCUMENTS FILED OR TO BE FILED WITH THE SEC, INCLUDING THE PROXY STATEMENT, AS WELL AS ANY AMENDMENTS OR SUPPLEMENTS THERETO, IN CONNECTION WITH THE PROPOSED TRANSACTION WHEN THEY BECOME AVAILABLE BECAUSE THEY CONTAIN OR WILL CONTAIN IMPORTANT INFORMATION ABOUT UNIVAR SOLUTIONS, APOLLO, THE PROPOSED TRANSACTION AND RELATED MATTERS. Investors and security holders will be able to obtain the documents (when available) free of charge at the SEC's website, www.sec.gov, or by visiting the Company's investor relations website, https://investors.univarsolutions.com/home/default.aspx.
Participants in the Solicitation of Proxies
Under SEC rules, the Company and certain of its directors, executive officers and other members of management and employees may be deemed to be participants in the solicitation of proxies from the holders of the Company's common stock in connection with the proposed transaction. Information about the directors and executive officers of the Company and their ownership of the Company's common stock is set forth in the definitive proxy statement for the Company's 2022 Annual Meeting of Stockholders, which was filed with the SEC on March 23, 2022, or its Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2022, and in other documents filed by the Company with the SEC. These documents can be obtained free of charge from the sources indicated above. Additional information regarding the participants in the proxy solicitation and a description of their direct and indirect interests, by security holdings or otherwise, will be contained in the Proxy Statement and other relevant materials to be filed with the SEC in respect of the proposed transaction when they become available. Investors should read the Proxy Statement carefully when it becomes available before making any voting or investment decisions.
Forward-Looking Statements and Information
This communication contains forward-looking statements as that term is defined in Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended by the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Forward-looking statements generally can be identified by words such as "believes," "expects," "may," "will," "should," "could," "seeks," "intends," "plans," "estimates," "anticipates" or other comparable terms. All forward-looking statements made in this communication are qualified by this cautionary language.
Forward-looking statements are subject to known and unknown risks and uncertainties, many of which may be beyond the Company's control. Potential factors that could affect such forward-looking statements include, among others: general economic conditions, particularly fluctuations in industrial production and consumption and the timing and extent of economic downturns; significant changes in the business strategies of producers or in the operations of customers; increased competitive pressures, including as a result of competitor consolidation; potential supply chain disruptions; significant changes in the pricing, demand and availability of chemicals; potential cybersecurity incidents, including security breaches; the Company's indebtedness, the restrictions imposed by, and costs associated with, its debt instruments, and its ability to obtain additional financing; the broad spectrum of laws and regulations that the Company is subject to, including extensive environmental, health and safety laws and regulations and changes in tax laws; an inability to generate sufficient working capital; transportation related challenges, including increases in transportation and fuel costs, changes in the Company's relationship with third party transportation providers, and ability to attract and retain qualified drivers; accidents, safety failures, environmental damage, product quality issues, delivery failures or hazards and risks related to its operations and the hazardous materials it handles; potential inability to obtain adequate insurance coverage; ongoing litigation, potential product liability claims and recalls, and other environmental, legal and regulatory risks; challenges associated with international operations; exposure to interest rate and currency fluctuations; an inability to integrate the business and systems of companies it acquires, including failure to realize the anticipated benefits of such acquisitions; possible impairment of goodwill and intangible assets; its ability to attract or retain a qualified and diverse workforce; negative developments affecting its pension plans and multi-employer pensions; labor disruptions associated with the unionized portion of its workforce; its ability to execute on its initiatives and goals related to environmental, social, and governance ("ESG") matters and the increasing legal and regulatory focus on ESG; the impacts resulting from the conflict in Ukraine or related geopolitical tensions; that a condition to the closing of the proposed transaction that may not be satisfied; the occurrence of any event that can give rise to termination of the proposed transaction; the failure to obtain approval of the proposed transaction by the Company's shareholders; the failure to obtain certain required regulatory approvals or the failure to satisfy any of the other closing conditions to the completion of the proposed transaction within the expected timeframes or at all; management's time and attention being diverted to issues related to the proposed transaction; the Company's ability to meet expectations regarding the timing and completion of the proposed transaction; disruption from the proposed transaction making it more difficult to maintain business, contractual and operational relationships; the institution of legal proceedings against the Company or Apollo related to the proposed transaction; the Company becoming unable to retain or hire key personnel due to the proposed transaction; the announcement of the proposed transaction having a negative effect on the market price of the Company's common stock or operating results; the ability of the Company to successfully recover from a disaster or other business continuity problem due to a hurricane, flood, earthquake, terrorist attack, war, conflict, pandemic, security breach, cyber-attack, power loss, telecommunications failure or other natural or man-made event, including the ability to function remotely during long-term disruptions such as the COVID-19 pandemic; the impact of public health crises, such as pandemics (including the COVID-19 pandemic) and epidemics and any related Company or governmental policies and actions to protect the health and safety of individuals or governmental policies or actions to maintain the functioning of national or global economies and markets, including any quarantine, "shelter in place," "stay at home," workforce reduction, social distancing, shut down or similar actions and policies; actions by third parties, including government agencies; certain restrictions during the pendency of the proposed transaction that may impact the Company's ability to pursue certain business opportunities or strategic transactions; the Company's ability to meet expectations regarding the accounting and tax treatments of the proposed transaction; and the other factors described in the Company's filings with the SEC. For additional information concerning factors that could cause actual results and events to differ materially from those projected herein, please refer to the Company's most recent Annual Report on Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2022, and to other documents filed by the Company with the SEC, including subsequent Current Reports on Form 8-K and Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q. In addition, the Company will discuss certain of these risks in greater detail, as well as other risks associated with the proposed transaction, in the Proxy Statement. We caution you that the forward-looking information presented in this communication is not a guarantee of future events or results, and that actual events or results may differ materially from those made in or suggested by the forward-looking information contained in this communication.
Any forward-looking statements represent the Company's views only as of the date of this communication and should not be relied upon as representing the Company's views as of any subsequent date, and the Company undertakes no obligation, other than as may be required by law, to update any forward-looking statement.
About Univar Solutions
Univar Solutions (NYSE: UNVR) is a leading global specialty chemical and ingredient distributor representing a premier portfolio from the world's leading producers. With the industry's largest private transportation fleet and technical sales force, unparalleled logistics know-how, deep market and regulatory knowledge, formulation and recipe development, and leading digital tools, the Company is well-positioned to offer tailored solutions and value-added services to a wide range of markets, industries, and applications. While fulfilling its purpose to help keep communities healthy, fed, clean and safe, Univar Solutions is committed to helping customers and suppliers innovate and focus on Growing Together. Learn more at univarsolutions.com.
Apollo is a high-growth, global alternative asset manager. In our asset management business, we seek to provide our clients excess return at every point along the risk-reward spectrum from investment grade to private equity with a focus on three investing strategies: yield, hybrid, and equity. For more than three decades, our investing expertise across our fully integrated platform has served the financial return needs of our clients and provided businesses with innovative capital solutions for growth. Through Athene, our retirement services business, we specialize in helping clients achieve financial security by providing a suite of retirement savings products and acting as a solutions provider to institutions. Our patient, creative, and knowledgeable approach to investing aligns our clients, businesses we invest in, our employees, and the communities we impact, to expand opportunity and achieve positive outcomes. As of December 31, 2022, Apollo had approximately $548 billion of assets under management. To learn more, please visit www.apollo.com.
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SOURCE Univar Solutions Inc.
New Home Sales increase to 759,000 Annual Rate in September
The Census Bureau reports New Home Sales in September were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) of 759 thousand.
The previous three months were revised down slightly, combined.
Sales of new single‐family houses in September 2023 were at a seas…
Sales of new single‐family houses in September 2023 were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 759,000, according to estimates released jointly today by the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. This is 12.3 percent above the revised August rate of 676,000 and is 33.9 percent above the September 2022 estimate of 567,000. emphasis addedClick on graph for larger image. The first graph shows New Home Sales vs. recessions since 1963. The dashed line is the current sales rate. New home sales are above pre-pandemic levels. The second graph shows New Home Months of Supply. The months of supply decreased in September to 6.9 months from 7.7 months in August. The all-time record high was 12.2 months of supply in January 2009. The all-time record low was 3.3 months in August 2020. This is above the top of the normal range (about 4 to 6 months of supply is normal).
"The seasonally‐adjusted estimate of new houses for sale at the end of September was 435,000. This represents a supply of 6.9 months at the current sales rate."Sales were well above expectations of 679 thousand SAAR, and sales for the three previous months were only revised down slightly, combined. I'll have more later today. home sales
5,050 Bitcoin for $5 in 2009: Helsinki’s claim to crypto fame
Helsinki played host to the first Bitcoin for fiat transaction in 2009 — 5050 Bitcoin for $5 — 6 months before Pizza Day. Crypto City Guide.
Helsinki played host to the first Bitcoin for fiat transaction in 2009 — 5050 Bitcoin for $5 — 6 months before Pizza Day. Crypto City Guide.
This Crypto City guide looks at Finlands crypto culture: The most notable projects and people, its financial infrastructure, which retailers accept crypto, and where you can find blockchain education courses.
Population: 1.55 million
Languages: Finnish and Swedish, with English widely spoken
Situated on the Gulf of Finland, Helsinki is the capital of Finland and is arguably the worlds most northern metropolis, with 1.5 million people 30% of the countrys population calling the metro area home. Its inhabitants spend winter in a cold, still darkness but enjoy 11:00 pm sunsets in summertime.
Major population centers are nearby, with both Tampere and Turku reachable in two hours via road or rail. There are regular ferry services across the Baltic including to Estonias capital of Tallinn, which can be reached in two hours by sea, and there are also plans to link the cities via an undersea tunnel. The nearby Helsinki-Vantaa airport is the countrys main international gateway and serves as a transfer hub for Asia.
Finland has been ranked the happiest country in the world for six consecutive years by the World Happiness Report. Its income tax rate tops out at 56% one of the highest in the world and the tax data of every resident is public. Helsinki played host to the 1952 Summer Olympics. The country joined the European Union in 1995 and adopted the euro as its currency in 1999. In 2023, Finland became a member of NATO.
As the capital, Helsinkis crypto events draw participants from across the country, making it the natural meeting place for the industry. For that reason, projects and companies from nearby cities like Tampere and Turku are also included here.
The area was first settled around 5000 BC as the ice age retreated. Vikings raided the established settlements, as did Swedish crusaders in the 10th and 13th centuries. The city was formally established in 1550 as a Swedish trading post, defended by Suomenlinna (Finlands fortress), the largest sea fort in Europe. Later, under Russian control as the Grand Duchy of Finland, the emperor moved the capital from Turku to Helsinki, which was closer to St. Petersburg. Finland became independent in 1917, after which it resisted Soviet occupation in the 1940 Winter War.
Helsinkis claim to crypto fame rests with Martti Malmi, a software developer who in 2009 sold 5,050 BTC for a $5.02 PayPal transfer, marking the first time that Bitcoin was exchanged for fiat currency. It occurred before the much better-known May 22, 2010, Pizza Day, when Bitcoin was first used to purchase a physical good. Eventually, Malmi used most of his Bitcoin to purchase a studio in the metro area. If hed hung on to it, itd be worth $171 million today. The Bitcoin was used to seed an exchange called New Liberty Standard, which established the first BTC price of 1,309.03 BTC for $1.
Found the first known bitcoin to USD transaction from my email backups. I sold 5,050 BTC for $5,02 on 2009-10-12. https://t.co/8XcBmzJljf
Martti Malmi (@marttimalmi) January 15, 2014
Malmi was, in some ways, a product of his environment, with Helsinki recognized as a bed of technical innovation since Nokia began to dominate the cellphone market. In 1991, Linus Torvalds began working on what became Linux at the University of Helsinki. It is also home to many video game companies, with local firm Rovios Angry Birds achieving global fame in 2009. Helsinki is also the home of Aave founder Stani Kulechov, though he has moved abroad with the company.
In 2019, a then-staunchly Bitcoin maximalist group called Konsensus organized the translation of Saifedean Ammous 2018 book The Bitcoin Standard into Finnish, and later also translated The Little Bitcoin Book by The Bitcoin Collective. According to one member, the organization has since become more accepting of other cryptocurrencies and blockchain use cases.
The crypto community in Helsinki and Finland is somewhat disorganized and divided, with many enthusiasts being interested in one facet be it Bitcoin, NFTs or Web3 without embracing the whole, and thus having few common threads. Still, a certain grassroots energy is evident.
Paying with Bitcoin is not common in Finland, where card and app payments dominate. One notable exception is the restaurant Faro, at which a few people are likely to buy a burger and beers with sats at the monthly Bitcoin meetup.
On the bar side, Taudo Baari and Time Bar also accept crypto. There is also the Osuva shooting range.
Samuel Harjunp, CEO and co-founder of hardware startup Xellox and regular at the Faro Bitcoin meetup, tells Magazine about the state of Bitcoin acceptance:
A few restaurants and bars have already been orange-pilled the biggest obstacles are the payment infrastructure and bookkeeping.
Today, Helsinki has a vibrant tech and startup scene with many coworking spaces. The city is also host to the annual Slush startup conference, which draws 25,000 participants.
Web3 Helsinki is a student-run organization that organized its first event on April 20, 2020, with about 150 people in attendance, making it perhaps the largest single crypto event of the year.
2023s events have included the Web3 Bash in late April, followed by the Aurora Nordic Web3 Conference in June. On June 6, the BRIDG3 Blockchain summit was held at Tamperes Nokia Arena, focusing on Web3, the metaverse and decentralized autonomous organizations.
The Finnish Bitcoin Association was established on May 6, in an event attended by Magazine, with membership fees paid primarily with Bitcoin via the Lightning Network. Upon the conclusion of formalities, the saunas of the hosting coworking space were fired up.
For those interested in NFTs, Fungi is a platform advertising a no-code solution that lets organizations build NFT-based communities. One of these was a metaverse island called Cornerstone for VR studio ZOAN, where 100 plots could be purchased as NFTs.
HABBO NFT, operated by the local creators of the 23-year-old online chat room game HABBO Hotel, has dropped an 11,600-piece avatar collection on OpenSea and is currently developing an NFT-based game. A group called The Future of Art has also dedicated itself to promoting digital art and runs an NFT gallery.
An aspiring LinkedIn competitor, Kleoverse, is a proof-of-talent Web3 platform for recruiters and jobseekers that displays skills such as knowledge in programming languages through badges instead of text on a resume.
Phaver is building a Web3 social media app powered by Lens Protocol, which bills itself as the social layer of Web3. Phaver is one of many local projects that have worked with tech design studio STRGL, which specializes in protocol-level Web3 solutions. STRGLs managing director, Kasper Karimaa, sees Helsinki as a haven for developers:
Finlands role in blockchain innovation through its agile engineering community makes Helsinki the perfect place to assemble a skilled team in research, design and development.
One of the most widely known crypto companies in the country was the P2P exchange LocalBitcoins, which employed about 50 people before closing its doors in February 2023. CEO Nikolaus Kangas told Cointelegraph that this was due to a failure to turn our trade volumes and declining market share back to growth.
Bittiraha, which translates to bit money in Finnish, is another old local crypto company. It was founded circa 2012 and installed the countrys first Bitcoin ATM at the Helsinki railway station in December 2013.
The company was also a distributor of Casascius physical Bitcoin and eventually made its own line of Denarium wallets. The parent company, Coinmotion based a few hours north in Jyvskyl now operates a cryptocurrency exchange.
Another major Finnish exchange called Northcrypto can be found in Turku.
A euro stablecoin has also been developed in the city. Membrane Finances EUROe was launched in February 2023 and is designed to be an EU-regulated full-reserve stablecoin that is compliant with recent legislation. While this is notable considering the relatively few operational euro stablecoins, volume remains low at approximately $20,000 per day.
Helsinki native Anita Krypto Granny Kalergis spends most of her time in Dubai, where she organizes blockchain conferences. She feels that Finnish entrepreneurs and decision-makers lack bravery, preferring to wait for someone else to take the lead and for regulatory certainty both from the national and EU levels. Most activity is not advertised, with especially older business people afraid to rock the boat or make major moves, she observes.
Companies here will build something to 95% completion before opening their mouth, whereas projects in other countries will raise money and build partnerships based on a white paper while testing in production.
In 2018, the Finnish customs service planned to auction 1,666 BTC that it had seized in a drug case, but decided not to proceed due to concerns that the virtual money would return to the hands of criminals, displaying a rather negative official view of cryptocurrency. In July 2022, the state eventually auctioned nearly 2,000 BTC for $47 million, with proceeds being donated to Ukraine.
In December 2021, local media reported a trend of investment scams involving the faces of prominent people, including industrialist Heikki Herlin and then-Prime Minister Sanna Marin.
Earlier in 2018, the police also made warnings regarding a trend of Bitcoin blackmail relating to bogus claims that hackers had webcam material of users visiting pornographic websites. In 2022, a Helsinki watch dealer fell victim to a common crypto scam, handing over Rolex watches worth $400,000 after mistakenly believing that he had received a Bitcoin transaction.
Cryptocurrency, often adjacent to scams in the news, has come to be viewed with a relatively high degree of suspicion across most of society. Commenting on the decision to halt the 2018 customs seizure sale, Pekka Pylkknen, head of finance at the Finnish Customs Service, highlighted concerns about money laundering, telling national broadcaster YLE that the buyers of cyber currency rarely use them for normal endeavors.
National media regularly interview outspoken cryptocurrency critic Aleksi Grym, head of fintech for the Finnish Central Bank, as an authoritative expert without seeking alternative pro-cryptocurrency views, though coverage has been improving.
As one may notice from this article, the term Web3 is preferred, presumably due to its distancing from the negative stereotypes of cryptocurrency.
Neither the countrys political establishment nor any major party or other large grouping of the population could be described outright as being pro-crypto.
One reason for this could be Finlands stable, highly functional, and high-trust society, in which most people do not see the need to disrupt or fix something with cryptocurrency. Bank transfers are free and near-instantaneous across the EU, with cash use increasingly rare. Virtually nobody is unbanked, and the most trusted institution is the police, with 95% public support. Harjunp, whose startup is working on solutions to protect private keys, explains the disconnect:
Many people dont understand Bitcoin and think its something between criminal money and a pyramid scheme.
It is also notable that the moon mentality and dreams of quick wealth found in many cryptocurrency investors are generally seen in a particularly negative light, with Malmi noting that he never set out to make money with Bitcoin, perhaps owing to Finnish culture and his idealistic mentality.
In the same vein, cryptocurrencies are seen by some as drivers of inequality in a country where large differences in wealth are often considered taboo.
The Finnish Innovation Fund, or Sitra, has stated it as a priority to accelerate the local development of Web3 services, saying that its in Finlands interest to play an active role in ensuring that the metaverse is created in line with European values.
The fund has also worked with the Finnish National Gallery to create The Finnish Metagallery, an art gallery in the Decentraland metaverse whose building is modeled from the Finnish Pavilion as it appeared at the 1900 Paris World Fair.
In the old capital of Turku, The University of Turku hosts the Critical Inquiry Into DAOs (CIDS) research group, of which the author is part.
Martti Malmi, the first person to sell Bitcoin for fiat; Henri Brade, board member of Coinmotion; Aleksi Lytynoja, CEO and co-founder of Kleoverse; Niko Laamanen, founder of Konsensus.
Martin Wichmann, chairman of Konsensus; Antti Innanen, founder of Fungi; Sointu Karjalainen, founder of The Good Cartel; Juha Viitala, CEO and co-founder of Membrane Finance; Mika Timonen, founder of Habbo NFT; Olli Tianinen, CEO of Equilibrium Labs; Kasper Karimaa, managing director at STRGL; Jarmo Suoranta, CEO of TX – Tomorrow Explored.
Keir Finlow-Bates, CEO of Chainfrog; Ville Runola, CEO and founder of Northcrypto; Samuel Harjunp, CEO and co-founder of Xellox; Joonatan Lintala, CEO and co-founder of Phaver.
Cointelegraph team members often found in Helsinki: Elias Ahonen.
If you have any suggestions for additions to this guide, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bitcoin = Anti-Totalitarianism
The battle for financial freedom at the precipice of total government control hinges on our active engagement and collective commitment to protecting our…
The Erosion of Free Markets and CapitalismPeople who think we currently have capitalism and free and open markets haven’t been paying attention. The American economic landscape, once a paragon of capitalism, has undergone a seismic shift, particularly since the 2008 financial crisis when lawmakers selectively bailed out the bankers at the expense of the broader economy. The central banking system’s pervasive influence has led to a distortion of free markets, with quantitative easing (QE) being employed as a tool to manipulate the bond market, artificially lowering the cost of capital and thus distorting the prices of…everything. This manipulation has had far-reaching consequences, including the gutting of the middle class and the concentration of wealth in the hands of a few. In the wake of the Silicon Valley Bank failure this March, the deployment of tools such as the Bank Term Funding Program (BTFP) has further exacerbated these distortions, providing de facto yield curve control for banks, while leaving ordinary citizens to grapple with soaring interest rates and inflation. This divergence from naturally occurring economic markets and the suppression of a free and open cost of capital has pushed us closer to an economic model reminiscent of “you name it” communism regime, threatening the foundational principles of capitalism and democracy.
The Newest Assault on Financial Freedom and BitcoinIn a recent letter from Senator Elizabeth Warren and numerous congressional members, they leverage international crises to further their own political agenda and curtail financial freedoms. Armed with a freshly published Wall Street Journal article that falsely suggests Hamas raised a significant sum of crypto funding to attack Israel - the truth couldn’t be more obscured. The irony of the claim is that the public Bitcoin blockchain provides evidence that anyone can dispute – which is exactly what happened the day following the Senator’s letter to the President. On October 18, blockchain analysis firm, Chainalysis, clarified that while some terrorist organizations, including Hamas, do leverage cryptocurrencies for funding, the scale is extremely small relative to traditional fiat banking means. They emphasized that the transparency of blockchain technology makes it a less suitable medium for illicit activities, including terrorism financing. Additionally, Chainalysis pointed out that government agencies and private sector organizations can collaborate using blockchain analysis solutions to trace and disrupt the flow of funds to these terrorist groups. They also highlighted the importance of understanding the role of service providers in these financial networks and cautioned against overestimating the scale of terrorism financing in cryptocurrency based on flawed analyses and misinterpretations. Delving deeper into the facts revealed by Chainalysis, it becomes increasingly evident how Senator Warren’s letter dramatically skewed the situation. The detailed analysis zeroes in on a specific address that conducted over 1,300 deposits and 1,200 withdrawals within a mere 7.5 months, with a total inflow of roughly $82 million in cryptocurrency. However, a mere fraction of this amount, approximately $450,000, can be linked back to a wallet associated with terrorist activities (source). This represents a mere 0.3461% of the purported $130 million claimed in the letter—a staggering discrepancy that lays bare the deceptive nature of the narrative being pushed to the White House. Not only has Business Insider reported on October 21 that Hamas operates with an annual budget of $300 million, but a significant portion of its funding also stems from taxing imports into Gaza, as well as international connections with Iran. A country to which the US government recently, and rather ambiguously, may have released $6 billion in fiat currency to in September, just a month prior to the attack on Israel. Unlike Bitcoin, which offers a publicly accessible audit trail, citizens are left in the dark about this substantial financial transaction. The narrative on what was actually released depends heavily on the news outlet or political interest one consults, often resulting in biased and self-serving points of view - the irony. This stark contrast between politically manipulated numbers and the transparent reality a public blockchain provides underscores the urgent need for thorough, factual analysis and the adoption of publicly verifiable monetary units like Bitcoin.
Why Is This So Concerning?Kneejerk policy reactions, based on false information and poor reporting can have devastating long-term impacts to the US’s competitive economic position and more importantly the liberties and freedoms of the citizens. In what appears to be a coordinated policy response (one day after Senator Warren’s letter), The U.S. Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) came out with a proposal for special measures regarding convertible virtual currency mixing and labeled it a primary money laundering concern. Based on all the information contained in the FinCEN proposal, it opens the door for expansive policy to infringe on the rights of individuals. For example, the increased surveillance and potential loss of privacy could subject individuals running Bitcoin full nodes to unprecedented scrutiny. They might find themselves burdened with regulatory requirements that are not only onerous but also infringe upon their personal privacy, and the privacy of users transacting through their nodes. The uncertainty and legal risks associated with running a full node under these proposed measures could discourage individuals from auditing their property, thus increasing their risk and reliance on bad actors. Bitcoin holders that ran their own node and took custody of their property in 2022 were NOT impacted by fraudulent centralized gate-keepers, like Sam Bankman Fried, and third party custodians that acted maliciously. Additionally, a policy attack on node operators creates less financial freedom for US citizens and an incentive for businesses in this new sector of finance to move offshore. Developers might be discouraged from creating and implementing privacy-enhancing features, limiting the potential and the very essence of American citizens and builders within this country.
What is the essence of a Bitcoin Node and why is it important?In the gold market, how would you know if someone gave you a pure bar of gold? Well, you can own an XRF (X-ray Fluorescence) device that emits energy waves into the metal to determine the elemental composition based on the frequency of energy that comes back to the device. In short, a purity audit ensures that you have purchased actual gold. Why is this device so important – because if you buy a million dollars of gold, you want to make sure it’s the real stuff, right? In Bitcoin, that purity test is conducted by running a full node. This test can be outsourced to a third party, or it can be conducted by the individual. This point is vital: if a person is NOT allowed to run their own node and audit delivery, it would be the same as saying a person accepting delivery of a billion dollars in gold is banned from conducting their own personal audit. Since bitcoin is a digital commodity, this right to audit delivery is essential to protect their liberties against foul play. Suggesting such a device be banned is a vote for autocratic control by government handlers at the expense of the individual’s rights to protect themselves from thieves. While we are on this important subject, Bitcoin is the only blockchain that has a code base small enough to allow for everyday citizens to afford and operate their own node and provide independent audits on their property – ensuring its legitimacy and overall security. In short, Bitcoin is different – Bitcoin promotes individual freedoms, sovereignty, and liberties at the individual level. An idea consistent with our Declaration of Independence: “Endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights…That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”
A Call to ActionSo what do totalitarian governments embrace? They embrace control. Such a control is often established through small and incremental changes that mask a deeper trend and direction that citizens don’t notice. This progression ultimately leads to absolute control. Now, what is the paramount lever to pull if a government was interested in absolute control? That’s right, the money. Because money is the energy that fuels every action and desire of the individual citizen. Therefore let me be very clear: You will not beat a totalitarian government by becoming more totalitarian. America was founded on the principle of individual rights and freedoms. Those freedoms in turn created the strongest economy and most powerful nation on the planet. It is those very freedoms that are at risk with knee jerk policy decisions to remove your individual rights in the name of security. In the face of the unstoppable tide that is Bitcoin and decentralized finance, it is paramount that we, as a society, and particularly as citizens of the United States, recognize the critical crossroads we find ourselves. The trajectory of Bitcoin’s innovation and adoption will continue, with or without the active participation or understanding of any single nation. The question that remains is whether we will be leaders or laggards in this inevitable financial evolution. Our cherished ideals of liberty and open markets are at stake. We must urgently commit ourselves to a deep and nuanced understanding of Bitcoin’s potential to secure financial freedom in an increasingly digital future. By actively choosing to educate ourselves, our communities, and engaging in meaningful dialogue with our elected representatives, we are taking essential steps towards protecting our position as a global financial leader. This is not just about maintaining economic dominance; it is about safeguarding the very liberties and freedoms that define us. The false sense of security provided by manipulated markets and snap policy decisions has eroded the foundation of capitalism—a system that, in its true form, no longer exists. We must recognize this distortion, challenge it, and champion the cause of financial freedom through Bitcoin. Supporting organizations dedicated to digital rights and financial freedom becomes not just a choice, but a duty. By contributing our time, resources, and voices, we are making a stand against the forces that seek to centralize control and diminish our economic sovereignty. On an individual level, embracing the tools that ensure our financial freedom—such as setting up Bitcoin wallets, running full nodes, and educating ourselves on the secure use of Bitcoin—is a powerful act of promoting freedom. We are fortifying the network, protecting our assets, and affirming our commitment to a future where financial freedom is accessible to all. The challenge is formidable, but the stakes are too high to remain passive. The United States has a choice: adapt and embrace the decentralized future of money, securing our liberties and financial leadership, or risk being left behind, tethered to outdated systems and eroding freedoms. The power of informed, engaged, and proactive citizens is our greatest asset in this pivotal moment. Together, we can shape a future that upholds the principles of freedom, innovation, and financial sovereignty. “Those who would give up essential liberty, to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety” - Benjamin Franklin yield curve cryptocurrency bitcoin blockchain crypto crypto gold
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