South Korean media has reported that Nexon, a multi-billion dollar conglomerate led by CEO Kim Seong-Ju, plans to acquire its largest cryptocurrency exchange Bithumb. Nexon, led by CEO Kim Seoung-Ju, will reportedly work with one of the major shareholders in Bithumb, Vidente, to buy out the exchange and take control of the company. According to South Korean media, Nexon plans to take a 65% stake in South Korea’s crypto exchange Bithumb.
The sale of the exchange has reportedly been in the works since last year.
The sale of the exchange has reportedly been in the works since late August 2020, with preliminary bidding held in September. Several financial and strategic investors, including domestic and foreign private equity fund managers, bid for success. Yet, the ongoing police investigation involving Lee Jung Hoon, chairman of the board at Bithumb Korea and Bithumb Holdings, appears to have slowed down the acquisition process. The report further notes that the legal entanglement of the exchange’s current shareholders, who are also being sued for embezzlement by investors, could make it difficult for the exchange to secure the legally required registration as a crypto entity with South Korean authorities.
Nexon has previously invested in cryptocurrency firms.
Nexon’s holding company, NXC, has previously invested in cryptocurrency and fintech, including the well-known exchange Bitstamp. Given Bithumb’s prime position as South Korea’s largest crypto exchange by trading volume, Nexon’s market dominance is expected to benefit if the acquisition is successful. An acquisition and change in management could clear this regulatory obstacle. Young has commented that Nexon’s acquisition would, more generally, “improve the image around the most dominant crypto trading platform in the local market.”