Kim Dotcom, an Internet entrepreneur facing extradition to the U.S. from New Zealand on copyright infringement charges, is seeking to list his online storage company Mega Ltd. on the nation’s stock exchange.
Mega will buy out listed shell company TRS Investments Ltd. via a reverse takeover in a deal valuing Mega at NZ$210 million ($179 million), the companies said today. While Dotcom resigned as a director of Mega in August to concentrate on fighting extradition, his wife, Mona Verga Dotcom, owns 26.5 percent of the company, Companies Office records show.
“The rapid global growth of Mega has generated significant interest from potential investors,” Mega Chief Executive Officer Stephen Hall said in a statement. “Listing on the New Zealand stock exchange will allow investors to participate in the ongoing growth of Mega.”
Mega says it has around seven million registered users of its encrypted, cloud-based storage services and that it is signing up more than 20,000 new customers a day. It was started by Dotcom in January 2013, a year after armed police stormed his Auckland mansion over allegations his previous site, Megaupload, was the hub of the biggest copyright infringement case in U.S. history.
The U.S. extradition hearing was delayed as Dotcom challenged the legality of the raid and the spying on him that preceded it.
Last year, he clashed with New Zealand Prime Minister John Key over a new law giving greater spying powers to the nation’s foreign-intelligence agency. Dotcom has since founded a new political party, the Internet Party, and campaigned for web freedom.
Mega said today it expects to release encrypted instant messaging and encrypted chat and video conferencing in the second quarter of this year. Development of an encrypted e-mail service is also planned, it said.
Other shareholders of Mega include individuals or companies from Germany, Australia, Hong Kong, New Zealand and Belize in central America.
TRS will buy all the shares in Mega in return for 700 million new TRS shares. Following completion, existing Mega shareholders will own 99 percent of TRS, which will change its name to Mega.
TRS shares rose to 0.7 of a New Zealand cent at 3:20 p.m. in Wellington from 0.1 cent before today’s announcement. That values TRS at NZ$7.8 million. Some 30.5 million shares were traded.
Dotcom, born in Germany as Kim Schmitz, is a resident of New Zealand and legally changed his name. He was indicted in Virginia in January 2012 on racketeering, money laundering, copyright infringement and wire fraud charges. He faces as long as 20 years in prison for each conviction in the U.S. on the racketeering and money laundering charge.