Friday court filings have revealed that Steve Kokinos will be taking over the operations of Celsius 2.0 as the chief executive officer (CEO).
The ex-Algorand CEO will be serving on a board that includes two members of the bankrupt crypto lender Celsius’s own creditor committee, executives from WeWork, Lehman Brothers and miner US Bitcoin.
Kokinos had parted ways with Algorand to “pursue other interests” last year in July. The blockchain technology company then promoted its chief operating officer (COO) W. Sean Ford to interim CEO in order to replace Kokinos for the time being.
The former Algorand executive is also the co-owner of crypto consortium Fahrenheit, alongside mining company US Bitcoin and hedge fund Arrington Capital. The respective executives of the latter two, Asher Genoot and Michael Arrington, will also be sitting on the Celsius new board.
As per court documents, the new company is still unnamed but is referred to in the filings as NewCo. It described Kokinos as the proposed CEO of the Delaware corporation saying: “Steve has been a serial entrepreneur and investor for over 25 years, founding and operating companies ranging from internet infrastructure, cloud software, communications, and crypto.”
The board also comprises the two co-chairs of Celsius’ creditor committee, Scott Duffy and Thomas DiFiore. They were consulted at major stages of the sale process to represent the interests of those owed money. They also got to appoint six of the nine board members.
The filings stated that Duffy and DiFiore did not deliberate on their own appointment and that the procedure took place “after lengthy discussions with the Committee’s legal and financial advisors”.
Initially, it was decided that the Board of Directors of NewCowas to be composed of seven directors: (i) two selected by Fahrenheit Holdings, LLC (the “Plan Sponsor”) in its sole discretion, (ii) three selected by the Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors of Celsius Network LLC and its Debtor affiliates (the “Committee”) in its sole discretion, and (iii) two selected by the Committee and consented to by the Plan Sponsor.
However, following the filing of the Plan on 15 August 2023, the Plan Sponsor and the Committee started deliberating over expanding the membership of the New Board from seven to nine members, with one of the additional members to be selected by the Plan Sponsor and the second additional member to be selected by the Committee.
The filing then noted that “after extensive deliberation”, the Committee and the Plan Sponsor determined that it is in the best interests of NewCo to set the size of the New Board at nine members. This would give: “(i) the Committee the right to appoint six of the nine initial members of the New Board, with two such appointments to be subject to the approval of the Plan Sponsor, and (ii) the Plan Sponsor the right to appoint three of the nine initial members of the New Board. The Committee further determined that its six-candidate slate should be composed of four independent directors and two prepetition creditors of the Debtors.”
Qualifications, experience and independence of each of the candidates were then carefully reviewed to decide the final set of the New Board directors. This includes figures like Frederick Arnold, who is the chairman of the holding company that is operating the estate of bankrupt Lehman Brothers; Elizabeth LaPuma, who heads the audit committee at commercial real estate company WeWork; and Emmanuel Aidoo, an investment banker from Perella Weinberg who had previously worked on the deal.
Celsius has been in the news for its bankruptcy filing in July 2022. This was in the background of the crypto crash’s materialisation last year. Creditors of the company are now currently voting on whether to sell the company to Fahrenheit Holdings, a move that could see the partial return of their holdings.