Crypto M&A: Bitstamp Acquired by Belgian Investment Firm

UK-based Bitstamp, which is the largest crypto exchange in the European Union, is being acquired by Brussels-based investment firm NXMH. Bitstamp, whose trading volume hovers at approximately $45 million over the last 24 hours and which only supports leading cryptocurrencies, will keep its management team and vision intact. The deal is a sign of shifting sands in the blockchain industry during a year in which market prices and trading volumes have plummeted.

Bitstamp’s reasons for being acquired are three-pronged:

  • “quality of the buyer”
  • “quality of the offer”
  • “the industry is at a point where consolidation makes sense”

According to Reuters, it’s an “all-cash deal”, the size of which is being held close to the vest. Bitstamp reportedly boasted a valuation of $60 million as of 2016. Bitstamp will gain access to the deep pockets of NXMH, which reportedly has AUM of EUR 2 billion and which should only strengthen the exchange’s competitive position. NXMH, whose investment approach focuses on China, Korea and Japan, is no stranger to crypto, with its parent company NXC having acquired South Korea’s Korbit exchange last year.  NXMH is acquiring a majority stake of 80% while Bitstamp CEO Nejc Kodrič will hold into 10%, according to Reuters.

Further industry consolidation could unfold with exchanges buying exchanges or there could be a trend emerging in which investment companies acquire minority and majority stakes. Bitstamp reportedly has been being courted by potential buyers since mid-2017, which suggests that other exchanges are similarly being pursued. Meanwhile, leading U.S. crypto exchange Coinbase is reportedly pursuing an IPO, though no signs of a public listing could be found.

With the BTC price having shaved off more than 50% of its value this year, exchanges are experiencing lower trading volumes versus a year ago, which no doubt has eaten into profits. Reuters reports Bitstamp’s daily turnover at $100 million, but CoinMarketCap suggests it’s less than half that amount. Bitstamp, whose humble beginning sounds a lot like that of Microsoft, having been “founded in a garage with two laptops and EUR 1,000 seven years ago,” maintains that the integrity of the exchange will remain the same.

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

For all the progress that the industry has made, there are signs of an apparent “exit scam” unfolding on a small Canadian crypto exchange dubbed MapleChange over the weekend. If that proves to be the case, it’s two steps forward one step back for a crypto community that has worked to remove the stigma attached to the nascent industry.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Gerelyn has been covering ICOs and the cryptocurrency market since mid-2017. She's also reported on fintech more broadly in addition to asset management, having previously specialized in institutional investing. She owns some BTC and ETH.