From The News Journal
If a floundering Wilmington stock exchange fails to repay a $3 million government loan next year, New Castle County residents would become partial owners of a cash-poor Chinese-American tech company founded a decade ago by a professional wrestler.
In what is the latest turn in the county’s most controversial attempt at economic development in recent memory, New Castle County Council voted Tuesday to swap out old collateral – a software license – on its loan to the Delaware Board of Trade for shares of the stock exchange’s new controlling owner, Ideanomics Inc.
It follows a chaotic year for DBOT, as it is known, in which its limited operations sputtered while churning through investors and clinging to hopes of becoming a trading platform for shares of small and foreign companies looking for American investors.
Led by an influential Chinese-American billionaire, Ideanomics bought out DBOT’s investors last spring with a share swap deal valued at $18 million.
Those included Delaware Rep. Mike Ramone, R-Pike Creek, and John Hynansky, who Joe Biden has called a friend.
While company spokesman Tony Sklar called DBOT a “distressed company,” he pointed to its technology partner, Shawn Sloves, as the culprit.
Sloves’ company, Fundamental Interactions, is suing DBOT, claiming it hasn’t been paid in months.
It started in 2015 with a promise of hundreds of new jobs for a stagnant downtown Wilmington. Convinced of the potential and with an eye on the next election, then-New Castle County Executive Thomas Gordon inked a deal with the startup for a 5-year, $3-million loan, using money from a public parks investment fund
While the company had no revenues at the time, Gordon’s hope rested on the resumes of its founders – a mixture of financial experience, tech smarts, and political gravitas. They included former-Philadelphia Stock Exchange CEO John Wallace, and longtime aide to Joe Biden, Dennis Toner.