| Peter Wind

Key highlights:

  • Gaming conglomerate Nexon is reportedly looking to acquire Bithumb in a $460 million deal
  • Bithumb is the largest cryptocurrency exchange in South Korea by trading volume
  • The exchange, which has is no stranger to controversy, has been looking for a buyer

South Korea’s largest crypto exchange Bithumb could be acquired for $460 million

There’s new reports about a potential acquisition of major South Korean cryptocurrency exchange Bithumb. This time, South Korean gaming conglomerate Nexon is reportedly considering acquiring Bithumb in a deal worth around $460 million. According to reports, Nexon would acquire a stake of over 65% in the exchange.

Bithumb tapped accounting firm Samjon KPMG in September last year to find a buyer. At the time, the exchange was aiming at between $430 million and $600 million.

South Korean media is reporting that Bithumb is valued at $900 million in OTC (over-the-counter) markets, so Nexon would be benefiting from a favorable deal. 

Nexon is no stranger to the cryptocurrency business. NXC, the parent company of Nexon, purchased the Bitstamp exchange in October 2018 through its NXMH arm in a deal reportedly worth $400 million. NXC also owns the South Korea-based cryptocurrency exchange Korbit, which it acquired for $80 million. 

If the deal goes through, it would be a big start for M&A activity in the cryptocurrency industry for 2021. Last year, we also saw some major acquisitions, such as Binance’s acquisition of CoinMarketCap and FTX’s acquisition of Blockfolio. 

Even though Bithumb is the biggest South Korean cryptocurrency exchange by trading volume, it has been marred by controversy in recent years, making any potential acquisition more complicated. Bithumb chairman Lee Jung Hoon was being investigated last year by South Korean authorities over alleged fraud connected to a sale of the BXA exchange token. The exchange also suffered security breaches in 2018 and 2019 which led to cryptocurrency being stolen from the platform.

In the last 24 hours, Bithumb handled $2.37 billion worth of trading volume. XRP/KRW was the exchange’s busiest trading pair, accounting for $536 million in volumes. Markets for the XRP cryptocurrency heated up as the coin posted gains of almost 50% in the last 24 hours.



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