Investor consortium buys controlling stake in Bithumb exchange

October 12, 2018
Chris Wheal

A South Korean plastic surgeon and businessman has led a group of investors to take a controlling stake in the Bithumb cryptocurrency exchange.

Bithumb exchange taken under the control of BK Global Consortium

Singapore-based investment group BK Global Consortium, led by Kim Byung-gun, signed a deal on Friday to buy 50% plus one share of BTC Holding, the operator of the world’s second-largest cryptocurrency exchange by reported traded volume – as ranked on CoinMarketCap.

The deal

While BK Global was already the fifth-largest investor in BTC Holding, the new deal gives it a controlling stake in Bithumb’s operator and cost the consortium Won400bn ($352m) according to an exchange spokesman.

But the consortium values the exchange much more highly – at around Won2tn ($1.8bn) – much higher than the previous market valuation of about $1bn.

Kim Byung-gun

Kim is doubling down on his investment in the cryptocurrency exchange despite a rocky ride for the digital asset sector since the start of the second quarter.

Indeed, the sector has seen another sharp correction in recent sessions, taking the total capitalisation of the crypto market from $221.4bn on Monday to $201.6bn on Friday – a loss of 9%.

The deal involved BK Global buying shares from 10 shareholders, and is expected to be finalised on December 12.

Kim Byung-gun

A representative of the consortium said: “Kim Byung-gun demonstrated his multinational management ability in the field of medical care, fintech, and blockchain in Singapore. He is the right person to pursue the systemisation and globalisation of the virtual currency exchange.”

Bithumb was launched in April 2016 by Kim Dae-shik and quickly became South Korea’s largest crypto exchange, despite the country’s wary approach to the sector.

Indeed, South Korea’s digital exchanges have weathered threats by the country’s regulators to close down the sector, and the regulatory landscape of cryptocurrencies in the country remains clouded.

Bithumb’s most controversial moment since its launch was a major hacking incident in June in which £31m – in mainly ripple XRP tokens – was stolen.

Post written by Chris Wheal
Chris Wheal is editor of OpenLedger's news and features service. An award-wining business journalists himself, he runs a team of freelance journalists from across the UK and north America.

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