Bitcoin Exchange Bitstamp Acquired by Belgian Investment Firm in All-Cash Deal

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Bitstamp, one of the oldest and largest bitcoin exchanges, has been acquired by Belgian investment firm NXMH.

Fortune reports that the Brussels-based NXMH purchased an 80 percent ownership stake in the Luxembourg-based cryptocurrency exchange, which launched in 2011, shortly after the first “bitcoin bubble” drove the bitcoin price up as high as $31 and then back down to $2.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but, earlier this year, rumors had circulated that the cryptocurrency exchange — which was launched out of a garage in Slovenia with just 1,000 euros in capital — was seeking as much as $400 million and was in the final stages of inking an agreement with a South Korean investment firm.

While NXMH is headquartered in Belgium, not South Korea, it is a subsidiary of NXC, the South Korean technology investment firm that also owns regional cryptocurrency exchange giant Korbit. In April, NXC denied reports that the firm had acquired Bitstamp for $350 million.

Bitstamp co-founder and CEO Nejc Kodrič told Reuters that the exchange had four interested suitors but chose NXMH since it was willing to allow the bitcoin exchange — one of the largest in the European Union — to continue operating as an independent entity. He said that the firm and Korbit “talked about” merging but decided to remain separate. Consequently, he said that neither traders nor the company’s 180 employees should notice any significant changes.

“The vibrant industry last year sparked potential interest from buyers to make a footprint in the industry. We started to get approached by buyers in the middle of last year,” he said. “We were not looking to sell,” he added during an interview with Fortune. “We were definitely not looking for investment because we didn’t need to raise the capital.”

Kodrič, who said that he retains a 10 percent ownership stake in the exchange, further expressed confidence that aligning with NXMH will aid Bitstamp as it seeks to expand its operations.

“We were very much aligned—where we see the industry going and what the company wants to be,” he said. “They’re willing to help us along the way, and help us with our global expansion.”

Cryptocurrency hedge fund Pantera Capital, which invested $10 million in Bitstamp in 2014, also sold a portion of its stake to NXMH but retained some interest in the exchange.

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Josiah is an assistant editor at CCN. A former ancient and medieval literature teacher, he has been reporting on cryptocurrency since 2014. He lives in rural North Carolina with his wife and children. He holds investment positions in bitcoin and other large-cap cryptocurrencies. Follow him on Twitter @Y3llowb1ackbird or email him directly at josiah.wilmoth(at)ccn.com.