Lured by its 'openness', PwC crypto head to establish digital assets fund in Dubai: report

  • Nine Blocks Capital Management has been granted provisional regulatory approval
Published August 4, 2022

PwC’s global crypto leader Henri Arslanian has left his role at the company to establish a digital assets fund in Dubai, pointing towards how the emirate is gaining traction as a cryptocurrency hub, reported the Financial Times on Thursday.

Dubai's openness in embracing the business comes just as other Asian hubs like Singapore and Seoul increase the scrutiny of the sector.

According to Arslanian, the “crypto openness” of Dubai influenced his decision to set up Nine Blocks Capital Management – the digital assets fund– in the emirate, where it has been granted provisional regulatory approval.

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To set up the fund, Arslanian has left his job at PwC, however, he will hold an advisory position.

Hong Kong-based hedge fund Nine Masts Capital, the chief backer and main shareholder in Nine Blocks Capital Management, will pour $75 million in investment in the crypto assets firm that has already positioned three portfolio managers in the Cayman Islands.

“Hong Kong would have been a natural home for us," Arslanian was quoted as saying in the FT report, adding that Nine Blocks had also considered Singapore.

“However, when we looked at the broader ecosystem ... Cayman and Dubai made a natural choice.”

The regulatory approval times and ability to travel to destinations largely influenced Arslanian’s decision to open office in Dubai.

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“The fund may later add a base in Asia, but Dubai’s travel links and timezone, just four hours behind Singapore, made it easy to cover the region,” he said.

Dubai has been welcoming crypto currency firms and investors. Last year, Binance announced a Virtual Asset License from regulators in Dubai, while rival exchange FTX announced last week that it was approved to operate in the jurisdiction.

According to Arslanian, Dubai’s tier-one regulatory and licensing regime made it attractive for digital asset funds.


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