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JPMorgan Sued by CEO of Greek Fintech Firm it Co-owns

The unit’s chief says the big bank is keeping his company from expanding into key markets.

Photo of JPMorgan Chase building in New York
Photo by Ben Sutherland via CC BY 2.0

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The head of a fintech company co-owned by JPMorgan Chase sued the 153-year-old institution this week in the High Court of London, arguing that the major bank is purposefully blocking his business’ growth and devaluing it.   

Can’t Beat ‘Em, Buy ‘Em

In 2021, JPMorgan began acquiring and pumping billions of dollars into more than 40 fintech companies. It was mainly a defensive maneuver, as CEO Jamie Dimon called fintech services “enormous competitive threats” to traditional lenders. 

One of those deals was for Viva Wallet — a Greek payment service founded in 2000 by Haris Karonis. JPMorgan purchased a 48.5% stake in the company for €800 million (about $861 million). 

That relationship has soured, though:

  • While Viva has found success in some southern European countries, Karonis says JPMorgan is keeping it from expanding throughout the rest of the continent and in the US. He also says JPMorgan is pushing its own payment service in certain markets, competing directly with Viva.
  • You might be asking, “Why would JPMorgan want to sabotage a company in which it has such a big stake?” Well, there’s a catch, and it’s the driving point of Karonis’s argument: As part of the original deal, if Viva’s valuation is below €5 billion in June 2025, JPMorgan can assume total control of the company.

What’s it Worth? Sources familiar with the matter told the Financial Times that both sides disagree about how much Viva is worth. Acting on behalf of the bank, Houlihan Lokey gave it a valuation of €1 billion, while Viva’s valuer — Ernst & Young — priced it at €3 billion. One thing is for sure: Viva’s definitely worth more than Frank, another fintech service JPMorgan paid lots of money for only to find that CEO Charlie Javice allegedly packed its user base with millions of fake customers.