October 29, 2018 / 10:07 AM / 16 days ago

European investment firm buys digital exchange Bitstamp in all cash deal

NEW YORK (Reuters) - NXMH, a Belgium-based investment company, has acquired digital currency exchange Bitstamp in an all cash deal, the exchange’s chief executive officer Nejc Kodrič said on Monday.

Kodrič declined to disclose terms of the deal, which was signed on Oct. 25. In 2016, Bitstamp was valued at $60 million, up from a 2014 valuation of $39 million, according to Kodrič.

Bitstamp is the largest digital currency exchange in the European Union by volume, with turnover of $100 million per day.

NXMH, with assets under management of more than 2 billion euros, is the European subsidiary of South Korea-based NXC, which invests in digital technologies. NXC also owns South Korean cryptocurrency exchange Korbit.

Bitstamp and Korbit will operate independently.

“The sale wasn’t planned. There was no active effort to go around and solicit buyers,” Kodrič told Reuters in an interview.

“The vibrant industry last year sparked potential interest from buyers to make a footprint in the industry. We started to get approached by buyers in the middle of last year,” he added.

Bitstamp had four interested buyers, the exchange’s CEO said, but opted to go with NXMH because it will allow the Luxembourg exchange to operate as it is.

Through the purchase, NXMH acquires an 80 percent stake in Bitstamp. Kodrič retains a 10 percent ownership interest in the exchange and will continue as CEO.

Pantera Capital Management LP, which made a $10 million investment in the company in 2014, also sold part of its stake in Bitstamp to NXMH.

Kodrič and Damian Merlak founded the company in 2011. It has grown to more than 3 million registered customers today.

Merlak sold his entire 30 percent stake in Bitstamp with the deal and has not been active since 2015, Kodrič said.

Like all exchanges, Bitstamp has been affected by the current decline in cryptocurrency prices. Kodrič said volume has been down between 60-70 percent, but pointed out that Bitstamp remained profitable in 2018 because current cryptocurrency prices were still much higher than they were for most of last year.

Kodrič and Merlak founded Bitstamp in August 2011 and the company was first based out of a Slovenia garage with just a server, a couple of laptops, and a thousand euros in capital.

Reporting by Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss; Editing by David Gregorio

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