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Bitstamp Snatches Coinbase Insider as Operator Sale Looms

Tim Alper
Last updated: | 2 min read

Cryptocurrency exchange Bitstamp has appointed Hunter Merghart, Coinbase’s former chief of trading, as the new head of its American operations.

Source: iStock/PeopleImages
Hunter Merghart. Source: Twitter, @HunterBM

Merghart’s track record includes the development of Coinbase’s over-the-counter (OTC) trading operations, as well as general business development. He also has a background in the world of conventional finance, serving as a trading director at Barclays, a vice chairman at RBC Capital Markets and an associate at Credit Suisse.

Bitstamp stated, per a release on its website, “We are committed to growing in the United States and developing a better environment for all crypto businesses, both in the United States and worldwide.”

Bitstamp, which is ranked 55th by trading volume (USD 78 million in the past 24 hours, according to also completed a redesign of its website earlier this week, and was last month handed a BitLiscence permit to trade in the state of New York.

As previously reported, Bitstamp could be set for a massive windfall if its South Korean owner succeeds in selling off his USD 8.8 billion business empire. Kim Jong-ju, the owner of gaming giant Nexon, holding company NXC and exchanges Korbit and Bitstamp, is still looking for a buyer after putting NXC up for sale earlier this year.

South Korean media experts believe Kim is hoping to retain one or both of his exchange businesses and will look to reinvest the money he raises into the blockchain sphere – although previous reports stated Kim was looking to sell off the entirety of his holdings to a single buyer.

However, the timing of Bitstamp’s rapid expansion into the American market may seem odd to some observers if Kim is indeed looking to sell the platform imminently.

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Per media outlet Hankyung Kyungjae, May 15 will be a key date in the bidding, and NXC’s buyer could be revealed as early as next week.

A number of companies are known to be interested, including the Kakao Group and China’s Tencent. Joongang Ilbo also reports that Kim’s representatives visited Disney in person, and that Kim privately hopes to sell his holdings to Disney – a company he personally has a great fondness for – rather than a Chinese firm. However, unconfirmed reports have stated that the American media giant is not very keen, and is unlikely to make a formal bid.

Samsung has also been named as a potential suitor – although Hankyung Kyungjae says the business giant is reticent to enter the gaming sector, given the fact that South Korea’s gaming industry is so heavily regulated.

Meanwhile, EKN reports that the entire South Korean gaming sector has taken a financial hit in the first quarter of this year – with Nexon predicted to suffer a 3%-12% year-on-year drop in sales, and post operating profits 13%-26% lower than 2018 figures.