Korea’s biggest cryptocurrency exchange Bithumb has been sold to Singapore’s blockchain investment group BK Global Consortium for $350 million. The largest shareholder will be Kim Byung-gun, chairman of BK Group, who became Bithumb’s fifth-largest shareholder by investing 3 billion won earlier this year.
According to industry sources, BK Consortium signed a contract to buy BTC Korea Holdings, the crypto exchange’s largest shareholder, in Singapore and paid an upfront fee of $10 million.
BK Consortium will acquire 50% plus 1 share of BTC Korea Holdings’ 75.99% stake. As a result, BK Consortium will acquire 38% of Bithumb with BTC Korea Holdings’ stake falling below 38%.
BK Consortium valued Bithumb at about 1.05 trillion won and plans to complete its payment by February next year.
BK Consortium is a Singapore-based global blockchain investment group led by BK Group Chairman Kim Byung-gun who is concurrently a plastic surgeon. Kim invested 3 billion won earlier this year to become Bithumb’s fifth-largest shareholder and the latest contract will elevate him to the largest shareholder.
Kim is now operating plastic surgery hospitals and has been called an investment master since his successful investments in BIT Computer, Hugel and other promising companies in the late 1990s. In July, he launched ICO Platform, a blockchain-based crowdfunding company, in Singapore.
BK Group reportedly plans to press ahead with a Stable Coin project through Bithumb. It is preparing a blokchain-powered e-commerce settlement system under which cryptocurrency price volatility and transaction fees have been reduced in cooperation with Qoo10, Singapore’s No. 1 marketplace, and offline-to-online companies.
“We will create synergy in various areas through cooperation with Bithumb,” a Bithumb official said, adding that “the existing structure in which the co-CEO system with BK Consortium will remain intact and we expect transparency in corporate governance to be reinforced.”
The latest deal is drawing keen attention as rumors of Bithumb sell-off, which began to spread last year, have proved true. But the fact that initial coin offering-related companies acquired a crypto exchange is causing concern at a time when the Korean government remains negative about ICOs. A crypto exchange official said, “We worry about the repercussion from the deal.”