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FTX Mulls Buying Top South Korean Exchange Bithumb


Key Takeaways

  • FTX is in talks with Bithumb about a potential acquisition, a new report from Bloomberg indicates.
  • The two firms have reportedly been in advanced talks for several months. A Bithumb spokesperson commented that nothing could be confirmed “at this stage.”
  • FTX seems to be on a purchasing spree; it recently acquired crypto lending platform BlockFi after it suffered a liquidity crisis.

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Leading crypto exchange FTX is reportedly negotiating a potential acquisition of top South Korean exchange Bithumb. No deal has been confirmed as of yet.

Advanced Talks

Sam Bankman-Fried’s crypto empire keeps expanding.

According to Bloomberg, global crypto trading platform FTX is in advanced talks to buy top South Korean crypto exchange Bithumb. While no deal has been announced yet, both companies have allegedly been in discussions for several months.

When asked for comment, a Bithumb spokesperson stated nothing could be confirmed “at this stage.”

Bithumb is one of the top centralized crypto exchanges in South Korea, along with Upbit and Coinone. Established in 2014, it currently lists 188 cryptocurrencies. Data from CoinGecko show that Bithumb reached over $3 billion in daily trading volume in late November 2021; the number has now come down to roughly $558 million.

The collapse of prominent crypto hedge fund Three Arrows Capital has led multiple crypto companies to struggle with liquidity, with some of them (such as crypto lending firm Celsius and crypto exchange platform Voyager Digital) pausing customer withdrawals and filing for bankruptcy.

FTX CEO and co-founder Sam Bankman-Fried, however, has taken on a new role as the crypto industry’s lender of last resort. Through his various companies, Bankman-Fried has provided credit to Voyager (pre-bankruptcy filing) and acquired BlockFi. He has also stated that over $2 billion is ready to deploy for further bailouts.

The Bithumb acquisition seems unlikely to be due to recent market turmoil, considering talks have allegedly been ongoing for several months. Rather, FTX could be looking into expanding its presence in South Korea in a move reminiscent of its 2020 purchase of Blockfolio. 

Disclosure: At the time of writing, the author of this piece owned ETH and several other cryptocurrencies. 

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