Huobi eyes Caribbean hub as part of post-acquisition plans

Quick Take

  • Huobi announced a rebrand and a new international strategy after being acquired last month.
  • Tron founder Justin Sun unveiled the plans at an event in Singapore, but insists he is simply an advisor to the business.

Huobi outlined plans to help re-establish the crypto exchange as one of the world’s biggest, roughly a month after its takeover.

Justin Sun, founder of the Tron blockchain and an advisor to Huobi, unveiled the updated strategy at an event in Singapore on Nov. 22. One part of the plan involves setting up a presence in the Caribbean.

Huobi was acquired by About Capital Management’s M&A fund on Oct. 7. Financial terms were not disclosed, but earlier reports suggested that founder Leon Li — who set up Huobi in 2013 in China — had been looking to offload his stake in a deal that would value the business at $3 billion. Days later, Sun was named an advisor to Huobi. Speculation abounded that he was, in fact, the true buyer behind the About Capital deal, but Sun denied those claims in an email correspondence with The Block.

Asked why Sun, in his role as advisor, appears now to be playing so central a role at Huobi, a spokesperson for the company said, “he’s lending his fair share of experience in marketing to ensure that Huobi’s rebranding launch will be successful." They added: "Justin’s entire experience of building Tron’s brand from zero to one was invaluable.”

Sun told Bloomberg in October that he owns “tens of millions” of HT, Huobi’s native token. Shortly after the Huobi sale, Sun said in a tweet that “the key to revitalizing Huobi is to empower HT, and HT can only thrive on Huobi.” Its price briefly spiked after that, before crashing back down to around $5 this month, according to CoinGecko data. 

In its announcement today, Huobi said it wants to “give full play to the important strategic attributes of HT."

Huobi’s spokesperson added: “There are plans to enable HT holders to vote to decide which tokens get listed on the exchange, such as the launch of PrimeVote earlier this month. It is one of Huobi’s initiatives to empower HT holders, as it gives voting rights back to the community so that users can have a say in the decisions that impact them the most.”

Drop the global

A rebrand will see the company's name change from Huobi Global to simply Huobi — a nod, based on the characters that make up the Chinese version of the name, to its ambitions to once again become one of the world’s top three crypto exchanges.

Other points of focus in the plan outlined by Huobi involve international expansion and investments. The company plans to establish a presence in the Caribbean region — which it described in its announcement as an emerging crypto hub. Last year, Sun took a new post as ambassador to the World Trade Organization for the Caribbean island nation of Grenada. He has since been styled in announcements as “His Excellency.”

The Bahamas has found itself embroiled in the shocking collapse of Sam Bankman-Fried’s crypto empire in recent weeks, but Huobi’s spokesperson said the FTX saga would not damage the wider Caribbean region’s attractiveness as a base for crypto outfits. “FTX was catastrophically mismanaged as a company but that does not equate to anything wrong with the Caribbeans per se,” they said. “The Caribbeans remain an attractive region for Huobi to expand since there is a strong incentive to build a more decentralized digital financial infrastructure.”

On the investment front, Huobi said it will ramp up investments in Southeast Asia, Europe and other regions in which it could acquire new users. Strategic mergers and acquisitions are also on the table, it added.


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