Bitstamp has confirmed that it has been acquired by a European subsidiary of a South Korean corporation. Nejc Kodrič will remain the CEO of the exchange. The Korean group also owns gaming giant Nexon and Korbit, the country’s fourth largest crypto exchange.
The oldest remaining and largest cryptocurrency exchange in Europe, Bitstamp, announced on Monday that it has been acquired by Belgium-based investment company NXMH, a subsidiary of South Korea-based NXC Corp.
In a blog post, Bitstamp CEO Nejc Kodrič wrote:
Bitstamp has been regularly approached by suitors for quite some time. The reason why we finally decided to sell the company is a combination of the quality of the buyer, the quality of the offer and the fact that the industry is at a point where consolidation makes sense.
Bitstamp CEO Nejc Kodrič.
He told Reuters, “The sale wasn’t planned. There was no active effort to go around and solicit buyers.” The CEO revealed to the Financial Times that his exchange “had been approached last year by four serious buyers including from China and the US.”
Kodrič explained that Bitstamp “opted to go with NXMH because it will allow the Luxembourg exchange to operate as it is.” He further asserted that “A major factor in agreeing to the sale is that the mission, leadership and vision of the company remain the same,” elaborating:
I want to assure you that Bitstamp remains Bitstamp … It is business as usual here.
In Monday’s announcement, Kodrič emphasized that Bitstamp customers “can expect improvements in user experience, customer service, trading functions and other operations.”
The all-cash deal was signed by representatives of the two companies on Oct. 25, according to Reuters. Before the acquisition, Bitstamp’s shares were held roughly equally between the exchange’s two founders and hedge fund Pantera Capital Management, which invested $10 million into the company in 2014. Kodrič will remain the CEO of the exchange.
NXMH is acquiring an 80 percent stake in Bitstamp. “Merlak sold his entire 30 percent stake in Bitstamp with the deal and has not been active since 2015,” the CEO explained to the news outlet. Noting that further terms of the deal were not disclosed, the Financial Times elaborated:
Kodrič and Pantera will retain 10 and 6 percent stakes respectively, while NXMH will own the rest of the company.
While details of the deal do not include the sale price, New York Times reporter Nathaniel Popper tweeted in March that “Bitstamp is in the final stages of being sold to South Korean investors for ~$400m.”
Founded in August 2011 by Kodrič and Merlak, Bitstamp began operation out of a Slovenian garage with a server, a couple of laptops, and a thousand euros in capital, Reuters detailed.
The Luxembourg-based exchange “has grown to more than 3 million registered customers today,” the publication noted and quoted Kodrič saying:
Bitstamp was valued at $60 million, up from a 2014 valuation of $39 million.
Belgium-based NXMH, with more than 2 billion euros in assets under management, is a subsidiary of South Korea’s NXC Corp., provider of online games primarily in Korea, Japan, Europe, and the United States. The group owns one of South Korea’s largest video game companies, Nexon Co. Ltd, as well as Korbit, one of the country’s top four crypto exchanges.
According to Monday’s announcement, Bitstamp and Korbit will continue to operate independently, but they “plan on generating synergies in a number of areas, including technology, research and development.”