August 11, 2022

News of the Trade

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Crypto exchange FTX in talks to acquire stake in lender BlockFi

Crypto billionaire Sam Bankman-Fried has become a lender of last resort to his beleaguered industry. He may end up owning large chunks of it as well.

Bankman-Fried’s crypto exchange, FTX, is in talks to acquire a stake in BlockFi, a crypto lender that FTX gave a $250 million credit line last week, people familiar with the matter said. His other company, Alameda Research, also acquired a big ownership stake in Canadian crypto broker Voyager Digital Ltd.

Earlier this month, Alameda said it extended two credit lines, one for $200 million in cash and stablecoins, and another for 15,000 bitcoins, to Voyager.

Discussions between BlockFi and FTX are continuing, and no equity agreement has been reached, the people familiar said.

Crypto firms have been grappling with a massive price slide that has erased $2 trillion in value since the market’s high in November. In early May, the stablecoin Terra USD collapsed, wiping out about $40 billion worth of crypto assets. A number of firms, including Celsius Network LLC and Three Arrows Capital Ltd., have come under severe liquidity constraints in recent months.

An expanded version of this report appears on WSJ.com.

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