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   제목: JPMorgan, Binance still tapped as potential buyers of Bithumb

JPMorgan, Binance still tapped as potential buyers of Bithumb


March 22, 2021



By Park Jae-hyuk

Bithumb Korea is in the spotlight once again as the envisioned sale of the nation's leading cryptocurrency exchange operator has apparently attracted global suitors.

Morgan Stanley, Deutsche Bank and JPMorgan are among the companies that are cited as potential buyers of Bithumb Korea. An affiliate of Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME), Visa and Naver are also said to be interested in acquiring Bithumb Korea from major shareholder, Vidente. China's Binance, which runs the world's largest cryptocurrency exchange, is another candidate to possibly join the bid.

However, it remains unclear whether they will keep vying with each other until the end of the bid.

The progress of the deal had remained sluggish throughout last year, since Bithumb Korea's largest shareholder, Bithumb Holdings, started looking for buyers for a controlling stake last August after hiring Samjong KPMG as an adviser. This was mainly due to multiple legal disputes involving Bithumb Holdings board Chairman Lee Jung-hoon, who is considered as the de facto owner of the company.

Although Huobi was tapped as the strongest candidate last November after reportedly offering to pay 400 billion won ($353 million) for the acquisition, the foreign cryptocurrency exchange operator has not been seen since January, when Nexon founder Kim Jung-ju abruptly emerged as another potential buyer.

Kim had joined hands with Vidente to acquire the management rights of Bithumb Korea from Bithumb Holdings for about 500 billion won, according to reports. Kim signed a memorandum of understanding with the seller earlier this month, so that Nexon's holding company, NXC, could buy a 65 percent stake in the exchange operator, according to the reports.

Vidente, however, said in a regulatory filing that it has not decided whether to sell its stake in Bithumb Holdings or to acquire an additional stake. As the acquisition process remained sluggish, there has been speculation that Kim may have failed to take over Bithumb Korea.

The potential buyers that are being mentioned recently are reportedly trying to acquire Vidente's stake in Bithumb Korea, before securing the controlling stake by buying additional shares. However, some observers said the Bithumb Holdings board chairman may not give up his management control after his chances of victory in legal disputes over the company have increased.

Excerpts articles from The Korea Times
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