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PwC crypto head sets up digital asset fund

Says regulatory pressure in other cities has made operating from Dubai more appealing


PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) global crypto leader Henri Arslanian has left his role at the company to set up a digital assets fund in Dubai, saying Dubai’s “crypto openness” influenced his decision to establish Nine Blocks Capital Management in the city, where it has been granted provisional regulatory approval, the Financial Times reported.

The digital assets fund, which will receive USD 75 million from its chief backer and main shareholder Nine Masts Capital, a Hong Kong-based hedge fund, has also positioned three portfolio managers in the Cayman Islands.

The fund’s presence in Dubai comes as the city presses forward with establishing itself as a crypto hub after Asian financial centers such as Singapore and Hong Kong have increased scrutiny of the sector after a market rout and wave of corporate collapses.

Arslanian cited factors that included regulatory approval times and the ability to travel easily to justify his decision to choose Dubai. Hong Kong still has a mandatory hotel quarantine for most international travelers. Arslanian, who will retain a senior adviser position at PwC, told the Financial Times he has already relocated to Dubai.

Dubai has been opening its doors to some of crypto’s biggest participants. Last year, exchange Binance announced a Virtual Asset License from regulators in Dubai, while rival exchange FTX announced it was approved to operate in the jurisdiction.

Arslanian said the city’s “tier-one” regulatory and licensing regime made it attractive to funds such as his, which hope to attract institutional investors.