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Telegram’s Blockchain Launch Pushed to April 2021, Exposing the Company’s Equity Stak

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Telegram has yet again postponed the launch of its blockchain network, TON, according to a letter sent out to its investors on April 29. The letter highlights that a new launch date has been scheduled for April 2021 given the existing legal uncertainty. This move might, however, force Telegram to incur a costly clawback based on the initial postponement back in October 2019; the firm had agreed to return 72% of investor’s funds with a target launch date set for April 30, 2020.

Following its 1.7 billion token sale, Telegram attracted the SEC scrutiny which eventually resulted in a lawsuit against the ‘unregistered’ securities. According to the regulator, Telegram’s tokens, gram, should have been classified as securities; the court, therefore, ruled that this messaging app should not launch its digital asset until the matter is resolved.

A recent preliminary injunction in March further ruled out the possibility of launching the TON blockchain sometime this year. The firm is now offering its investors an option to cash out 72% as per the initial agreement or hold their stakes for a 110% ROI by April 2021,

“AS A TOKEN OF GRATITUDE FOR YOUR TRUST IN TON, WE ARE ALSO OFFERING YOU AN ALTERNATIVE OPTION TO RECEIVE 110% OF YOUR ORIGINAL INVESTMENT BY APRIL 30, 2021, WHICH IS 53% HIGHER THAN THE TERMINATION AMOUNT.”
Meanwhile, Telegram is allegedly in talks with the relevant authorities in a bid to facilitate the legal launch of its blockchain platform. Depending on how the discussions go, TON investors might receive gram tokens or another cryptocurrency as compensation for their stake. Notably, this shortcoming has opened an opportunity for TON investors to access Telegram’s equity stake, should the current compensation plan fail.

Telegram’s Equity Exposure

Based on this development, VC’s and investors now have an opportunity to acquire a stake in Telegram’s equity. This is quite significant given that that the firm was initially unwilling to sell its shares. QIWI founder and TON investor, Sergey Solonin, noted that the move would be a catch for investors,

“THERE IS DEFINITELY CAPITAL VALUE THERE, AND EVEN IF TELEGRAM WILL ULTIMATELY NOT BE ALLOWED TO ISSUE GRAMS, I THINK, IN THE COURSE OF THIS YEAR, THEY CAN FIND AN INVESTOR AND PAY THE MONEY BACK [TO THE TOKEN PURCHASERS],”
Currently, the firm is entirely owned by the CEO and founder, Parel Durov, and has grown to over 400 million users a month hence generating an equity value enough to settle the underlying debt. Given these stats, it is not surprising that several VC’s who had invested in the project are now eyeing an equity stake.
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