South Korean gaming giant Nexon is reportedly preparing to acquire Bithumb, the country's biggest cryptocurrency exchange, for around 500 billion won (~$460 million).
Local outlet Maekyung reported the news on Thursday, saying that Nexon is known to have signed a memorandum of understanding with Bithumb at the beginning of this month to acquire its 65% stake. Nexon is reportedly working together with Vidente, a major shareholder of Bithumb, to acquire the stake.
If the deal goes through, Nexon will become the owner of three crypto exchanges. The company has previously acquired Bitstamp and Korbit.
The Bitstamp deal occurred in October 2018, and the buyer was NXMH — NXC's investment firm (NXC is the parent company of Nexon). The Korbit deal, on the other hand, took place in September 2017 for about $80 million.
As for Bithumb, it had been looking for a buyer for a while. In September, there were reports that the exchange operator has appointed Samjong KPMG to manage the sale at a price tag of up to $604 million.
But uncertainties around Bithumb couldn't let the sale go through. Bithumb and its chairman Lee Jung Hoon were under investigation by the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency. They were accused of pre-selling Bithumb's native token BXA for about 30 billion won (~$27.5 million) to investors and then not listing the token, which has allegedly led to investors' losses. Lee was also charged with evading property abroad.
In 2018, Bithumb looked to sell itself to BK Global Consortium, but that deal didn't go through because BK chairman Kim Byung-Gun couldn't pay the entire acquisition amount of $345 million.