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South Korean Tech Giant Kakao Takes Over Japanese Crypto Exchange in M&A Deal

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Source: AdobeStock / piter2121


A Japan-based branch of the South Korean internet and tech giant Kakao has snapped up a controlling stake in a Japanese crypto exchange – which could see it seek to integrate its web-based cartoon output with its crypto services.

Per Yonhap and an official notice on the website of Sakura Exchange BitCoin, the trading platform in question, Kakao Piccoma, has become the largest shareholder of the trading platform. The Kakao subsidiary operates Piccoma, the largest web-based cartoon (webtoon) service provider in Japan.

The size of the deal was not disclosed, but Sakura wrote that it had received a “capital increase through third-party allotment” of shares. Its CEO Hitomi Yamamoto will remain in charge of the company, but a number of new directors have been appointed.

South Korean media outlets noted that the Kakao offshoot was now “expected to apply” Sakura’s crypto offerings to its existing webtoon platform, and Kakao Piccoma was quoted as stating:

“We will promote business synergy between the two companies. [We will] challenge in areas other than webtoons.”

Sakura was founded in Osaka in 2017 and currently offers pairings in 11 high-capitalization cryptoassets.

Kakao’s existing crypto links are not insubstantial. The firm was an early investor in the South Korean market-leading exchange Upbit, and remains a minority shareholder in the platform. The company also operates a dedicated crypto and blockchain subsidiary named Ground X, which pioneered the Klaytn blockchain network.

Meanwhile, it looks like a busy month for mergers and acquisitions in the Japanese crypto space is just getting started.

As reported yesterday, a bitter power struggle appears to have broken out over the ownership of the major treading platform bitFlyer. While a group of shareholders is reportedly attempting to sell a majority stake to a private equity firm based in Singapore, the company’s co-founder, largest single shareholder and CEO Yuzo Kano is looking to detail the plan – by appealing for a buyer on Twitter.

The CEO wrote in English on the social media network, appealing for a “white knight” to save the day.


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