FTX's Sam Bankman-Fried appears committed to doing due diligence on a possible bid for distressed lender Celsius, but whether his firm will ultimately throw a proposal into the ring is not necessarily assured.
At DC Fintech Week, Bankman-Fried zoomed in for a fireside chat on distressed assets, talking about his recent role as a market consolidator.
Indeed, FTX has been on a buying spree, most recently placing the winning bid for bankrupt lender Voyager's assets. Bankman-Fried said the firm is "pretty comfortable with where that ended" and is hoping to start returning assets to customers "very shortly."
But Voyager is only one of a multitude of major industry bankruptcies, including Celsius, fund Three Arrows Capital and mining infrastructure firm Compute North. Bankman-Fried said there could be more spending on the horizon.
"There's going to be bankruptcies that are getting started that we may or may not end up playing a role in, but I think that we've probably made most of the moves that we anticipate making for now," he said.
Celsius is still in its exclusivity period, where the firm might propose its own plan for a restructure, but once that lapses, it could face a similar auction process to Voyager. Reports have circulated that Bankman-Fried is thinking of throwing FTX's hat in the ring, but his comments today were reserved, saying he has yet to do a "deep dive" into the possibility of bidding for Celsius.
"I would say on prior we will almost certainly take a look at places like that, we will almost certainly want to at least be aware of what's going on," he said. "I don't know whether that ultimately ends up meaning that we will do something there or not."
With bankruptcies like Voyager and Celsius, Bankman-Fried said FTX approaches the process by trying to get a sense of what it would take to solidify the business, assessing its options and assessing how much impact it can create relative to the amount of its balance sheet it would have to deploy.
Those questions will be easier to answer later in the process if Celsius enters the auction phase. Until then, an outside examiner is currently conducting an investigation into Celsius' financials with a report on the way.
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