Since the FTX group of companies imploded in 2022, liquidators have taken control of the once-mighty business empire’s various assets. But once all the firm’s cryptocurrency, equity holdings and Bahamanian real estate are sold, what happens to the FTX brand itself?
According to recent reports, prospective buyers have been eying up the bankrupt company’s less tangible assets with a view to relaunching the exchange under new leadership. With 3 US firms in the bidding, even Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Chairman Gary Gensler has partially endorsed plans for FTX 2.0.
Following weeks of speculation, on Wednesday, the Wall Street Journal disclosed the identities of 3 potential buyers considering a bid on FTX. According to the paper, insiders with knowledge of the matter have confirmed that the crypto exchange operator Bullish is among those who have expressed an interest in rebooting the company post-bankruptcy.
A subsidiary of Block.one, Bullish launch occurred in 2021 and hired the former New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) President Tom Farley as its CEO this year, lending the platform a certain air of institutional credibility.
Commenting on the firm’s rumored plans for FTX, Gensler remarked: “If Tom or anybody else wanted to be in this field, I would say, ‘Do it within the law.’”
“Build the trust of investors in what you’re doing and ensure that you’re doing the proper disclosures,” he told CNBC on Wednesday.
But does Farley really have what it takes to turn the scandal-plagued exchange around?
With its original platform, Bullish has opted to remain an institution-only exchange, keeping more controversy-prone retail crypto trading at arm’s length.
What’s more, compared to the bankrupt company’s former leadership, Bullish’s senior management team looks like the epitome of corporate respectability. However, Farley and co aren’t the only band of suit-wearing finance veterans with their eyes on FTX.
Like Bullish, Figure Technologies represents the face of a more mature, post-FTX crypto sector.
Founded by banker-turned-entrepreneur Mike Cagney, Figure’s main business is developing blockchain solutions for lending and capital markets. Although the company initially shied away from cryptocurrencies, in 2022, Figure unveiled plans to let homebuyers use BTC and ETH as collateral for mortgage.
Proof Group, on the other hand, is about as crypto-native as they come. With a broad, existing portfolio of decentralized finance investments, acquiring FTX would be a natural move for the Silicon Valley venture capital firm.
Having been shortlisted from a group of 70 prospective investors, Bullish, Figure and Proof each present a different vision for the future of FTX.
Meanwhile, acquiring a crypto exchange would offer several advantages to Figure, which uses digital assets across its range of products.
Since plummeting from around $25 before FTX descended into chaos, FTT has failed to break above $3 in 2023. But with 3 potential buyers in the wings, the exchange’s native token has nearly doubled in price during the past 24 hours.
And while there’s no guarantee that a new owner would resurrect the token, throughout the year, the value of FTT has been dictated by the perceived likelihood of an FTX comeback.
For now, rumors and speculation remain the dominant force in the FTT market. But according to FTX banker Kevin Cofsky, a decision on the exchange’s future could be made as early as mid-December.
Ultimately, if that decision enables FTX 2.0 to rise from its predecessor’s ashes, who ultimately takes control of the company will be of little importance for the price of FTT. Compared to the token’s non-existing present utility, just the suggestion of rebirth will likely spur the market to action.