American multinational investment bank Morgan Stanley is currently in talks to acquire a stake in top South Korean cryptocurrency exchange Bithumb, local news outlet Naver reported on Friday.
“Morgan Stanley participated in the acquisition of Bithumb,” a source, who is reportedly a senior Bithumb spokesperson, said.
Per the report, Morgan Stanley is considering investing between 300 billion and 500 billion Korean won ($254 million and $441 million, respectively) via Vidente, which owns a 10% stake in Bithumb.
“The reason Morgan Stanley used Vidente is because it understood that Vidente has the right to negotiate a preferred sale to acquire Bithumb holdings,” another source told the outlet.
According to the publication, discussions with the new investor began amid difficulties in a deal with NXC Corporation, which owns gaming company Nexon and acquired Bitstamp, Europe’s oldest exchange, in 2018. While NXC has also shown interest in buying a stake, Morgan Stanley’s offer has pushed it into the background, the outlet noted.
Notably, Bithumb already has a history of acquisition deals falling through as its chairman Lee Jung-hoon, who indirectly owns a controlling stake in the exchange, seeks to liquidate his position. In 2019, for example, Bithumb was in talks with the Singapore-based BK Global Consortium, but that ultimately led nowhere.
As CryptoSlate reported, some rumors suggest that Morgan Stanley is about to launch three new Bitcoin funds that would allow accredited institutional investors to get exposure to Bitcoin’s price volatility.
While the bank was previously cautious in regard to cryptocurrencies, its clients reportedly “demanded” new crypto-focused services following Bitcoin’s meteoric rise to nearly $60,000 over the past few months.
The new funds could tentatively launch next month as Morgan Stanley’s advisors are currently undergoing crypto-focused training to help their clients better understand the emerging digital assets market.
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