The architect of a plan to boost London’s attractiveness as a listing venue for technology companies is joining a fast-growing blockchain start-up which is itself plotting a public flotation.
Sky News has learnt that Lord Hill of Oareford, the former EU financial services commissioner, has agreed to become a member of the advisory board of The Proof of Trust.
Lord Hill’s appointment, which will be confirmed publicly on Thursday, comes three months after he published a Treasury-commissioned report in which he advocated a cut in the free float requirement for listed companies and loosening the rules relating to dual-class shares.
The former leader of the House of Lords, who now sits on the Treasury’s board as a non-executive director, won plaudits for his listings review from many in the technology sector who have expressed concern that London has lost ground to rival financial centres, particularly New York.
His review also, however, elicited concern from corporate governance experts who warned that the dilution of existing requirements posed a risk to investor protections.
The Proof of Trust, which describes itself as “the world’s first globally patented smart contract validation and automated dispute resolution platform”, has said before that it intended to list in London.
In January 2020, it issued a regulatory announcement headed ‘Intention to float’ which outlined plans for a main market flotation, although it remains privately owned by its founders and a small number of employees.
The timing of a future initial public offering, or other fundraising plans, is unclear.
The Proof of Trust’s patented protocols relate to digitally encoded smart contracts which automatically execute when certain conditions are met.
Its principal technology partner is IBM.
The company said last year that its protocol had “come to the attention of major governments and corporates across the world and has already been presented to a number of prime ministers”.
It was founded in 2019 by Damien O’Brien, its executive chairman, and brothers Jez and Arthur Ali.
“I’m struck by the potential of The Proof of Trust to save money for companies and governments by resolving disputes, increasing transparency and reducing fraud,” Lord Hill said.
“The impact of the switch to digital, combined with the need to make the best use of public money as economies around the world emerge from the pandemic, will provide The Proof of Trust with many opportunities.”
The role is Lord Hill’s only current private sector post.
Other members of The Proof of Trust’s advisory board include Sir Robin Jacob, a former senior patent judge, and Brian O’Dwyer, a prominent US-based human rights and immigrant rights lawyer.
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