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Reports: Korbit and Bitstamp Might Get a New Owner

Tim Alper
Last updated: | 1 min read

The owner of two major cryptocurrency exchanges will put his company up for sale, according to multiple media reports in South Korea.

Source: iStock/Martin Barraud

Kim Jung-ju, the CEO of gaming giant Nexon’s holding company NXC, is set to put a total of 98.64% of his firm up for sale – a figure that comprises 67.49% of his own shares, and 29.43% belonging to his wife. The remaining 1.72% is owned by WiseKids, a Nexon subsidy. NXC owns both Bitstamp, Europe’s longest-running cryptocurrency exchange, and Korbit, one of South Korea’s “big four” platforms. NXC is valued at around USD 9 billion.

NXC bought Korbit for over USD 150 million in September 2017, and bought Bitstamp through a Belgian subsidy in October last year.

Media outlet Newspim claims that the restrictive nature of gaming regulations and bribery charges leveled at Kim by the country’s prosecution service last year were the main reason behind Kim’s decision, although the company is refusing to comment on the sale.

However, most South Korean media outlets say that Kim will look to sell at the earliest opportunity – sparking a feeding frenzy among major companies. Newspim names Chinese giant Tencent as a potential suitor. Some 60% of Nexon’s business revenues come from China, and Tencent, a multinational investment holding conglomerate, has made moves to buy stakes in South Korean gaming and internet companies in the past.

However, other names already mentioned include domestic players like the Kakao Group, which already has an extensive blockchain arm, and operates Upbit, another of the “big four” exchanges. Netmarble, a gaming company with its own blockchain unit – and whose CEO has labeled the “connection between games and cryptocurrency” as “huge” – is another possible buyer. Japanese gaming and cryptocurrency-related companies may also be interested, per several reports.

Another media outlet, Bridge Kyungjae, states that America’s Electronic Arts and Chinese gaming company NetEase could also be in the running.
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