FTX, a global cryptocurrency exchange headquartered in the Bahamas, is in talks to acquire its rival Bithumb, South Korea’s leading cryptocurrency exchange, according to people familiar with the matter.
The deal is already in an advanced stage, said the people, who asked to remain anonymous because the discussions are private. Its financial terms are yet to be disclosed.
Amid a series of recent deals, FTX is now talking to Bithumb about a potential acquisition. According to the report, the discussions have been ongoing for several months.
Bithumb has been looking for a buyer since 2018. In October 2018, BK Global Consortium, which is led by renowned cosmetic surgeon Dr. Kim Byung Gun, was on track to acquire Bithumb for $354 million. But the deal was canceled in 2019 because BK chairman Kim Byung-Gun could not pay the whole amount.
In September 2020, Bithumb appointed accounting giant Samjong KPMG to be in charge of its sale, at a price tag of at least $430 million and up to $604 million.
In January last year, South Korean gaming giant Nexon was reportedly preparing to buy Bithumb, for around 500 billion won ($460 million). But Nexon later denied plans to acquire the exchange.
In March last year, US banking giant Morgan Stanley entered into negotiation to acquire Bithumb for up to $441 million. However, the deal never happened.
Meanwhile, FTX has been on the lookout to acquire firms that would help it get more users or regulatory licenses. it is a sign that the firm is big enough and well capitalized to splash the cash on acquisitions.
In 2020, FTX acquired the trading platform Blockfolio which helped it get more customers. In October last year, FTX.U.S acquired LedgerX, a futures exchange that had several licenses from regulators in the U.S. In May this year, FTX was looking to acquire brokerage startups to push further into stock trading.
FTX has been on a buying spree amid the ongoing market plunge. Early this month, Bankman-Fried said his firm has a few billion dollars that it is willing to use to bail out troubled crypto companies.
Earlier this month, FTX reached a deal with BlockFi, which allowed it to acquire the embattled crypto lender at a maximum price of $240 million.
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