• Bithumb, the largest cryptocurrency exchange in South Korea, was just sold to a new owner.
• The exchange’s new owner is BK Global Consortium, led by a known plastic surgeon from Singapore, Dr. Kim Byung-gun, who has acquired Bithumb for W400 billion.
• Due to this move, BK Global Consortium is now Bithumb’s largest shareholder, with 38% stake.
Recently, a lot of cryptocurrency exchanges received new owners, such as Poloniex, which was acquired by Circle. Even so, not many people expected the same to happen to Bithumb, the largest crypto exchange in South Korea, and the third largest exchange in the world.
Only hours ago, BTC Korea Holdings, Bithumb’s operator announced that it has agreed to sell the exchange to BK Global Consortium. The Consortium is led by a famous plastic surgeon, Dr. Kim Byung Gun, who has bought Bithumb for 400 billion Won ($352.21 million).
While Bithumb is not entirely owned by the Consortium, which has bought 50% plus one share of BTC Korea Holdings, it will still be jointly managed by BK and its current owner.
According to a statement given by a person familiar with the deal, the acquisition should be completed by February 2019. The spokesperson also revealed that one of the goals of this deal is to boost Bithumb’s presence on the global scale, as well as to speed up its development regarding blockchain technology.
Additionally, thanks to this deal, the Consortium will now become Bithumb’s largest shareholder, with around 38% stake. Other shareholders include BTC Korea Holding, Omnitel, and Vidente.
As for Kim, he was the fifth-largest shareholder of BTC Korea Holding even prior to this deal, thanks to his earlier worth 3 billion investment. Apart from being Seoul-based BK Plastic Surgery Hospital’s founder and director, he also made a fortune by investing in bio and tech startups. This includes numerous smaller firms, including several connected to the cryptocurrency industry.
Thanks to his fascination with blockchain technology, Kim also established a Singapore-based blockchain firm going by the name of ICO Platform. This is a crowdfunding platform that allows investors to find the best blockchain companies to invest in. His other notable investments include fintech company called Finger, BIT Computer, and Korea-based botulinum toxin maker — Hugel.
A tough year for Korean crypto exchanges
Due to the global crypto craze that has been going on in the last two years, a lot of crypto-based firms sought their future in South Korea. However, in 2018, a lot of problems emerged in this country as well. Not only did Korea decide to ban ICOs, and heavily regulate the crypto space, but its exchanges also experienced an entire series of hacking attacks.
Even Bithumb itself, which has over a million customers, suffered a huge hacking attack earlier this year, in June. The attack damaged the exchange, as well as its reputation, with attackers stealing around $30 million in cryptocurrency. This and other attacks on crypto exchanges brought damage not only to exchanges themselves but to the entire crypto market as well. The market quickly lost steam, and the prices of numerous coins dropped even below their established bottoms.
Now, both investors and analysts are hoping that the new owner of Bithumb might bring the exchange back to its former glory, and even take it further.