The auction of bankrupt crypto exchange FTX is reaching its conclusion, with three potential buyers still vying to acquire and relaunch the platform.
The potential buyers are Tom Farley, former president of the New York Stock Exchange, fintech startup Figure Technologies, and Proof Group, a venture capital firm focused on cryptocurrency.
SEC Chair Gary Gensler Approves FTX Reboot With Conditions
SEC Chairman Gary Gensler has even given the green light for FTX to reopen, but with some strings attached.
Speaking to CNBC, Gensler said: “If Tom or anybody else wanted to be in this field, I would say, ‘Do it within the law’. Build the trust of investors in what you’re doing and ensure that you’re doing the proper disclosures, and also that you’re not commingling all these functions, trading against your customers. Or using their crypto assets for your own purposes.”
Gensler’s comments are a pointed remark about the high profile collapses that plagued the cryptocurrency industry last year, with FTX being one of the most significant.
The exchange filed for bankruptcy in November, after users found that FTX had traded and then lost large portions of user deposits.
FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried was later found guilty of stealing customer funds, and is awaiting sentencing. At worst, he may face a sentence of 110 years in prison. Bankman-Fried’s lawyers have indicated that they will continue to appeal the conviction and charges.
In the meantime, FTX has been operated by John Ray III, who was appointed as FTX’s CEO after Bankman-Fried resigned last November.
Ray has consistently criticised the way that FTX had been run since taking office, saying that he had never seen “such a failure of corporate controls at every level of an organisation”.
Additionally, he noted that FTX had been run by “a very small group of grossly inexperienced and unsophisticated individuals”, and listed a series of “unacceptable management practices” such as untrustworthy financial statements and the close links between FTX and Alameda.
Prior to FTX, Ray had been involved in several other prominent corporate restructuring efforts, most notably serving as CEO of Enron during its bankruptcy and recovering more than $828 million for their creditors.
Since taking the helm at FTX, Ray claims that the new leadership has managed to secure around $740 million worth of crypto from parts of its business, though it is still a far cry from the $8 billion that FTX owes its customers.
In a surprising turn of events, Anthropic, one of FTX’s investments turned out to be profitable earlier this year, and discussions began about a possible reboot of the exchange.
Among a pool of around 70 interested parties, the top three have emerged, with Tom Farley’s Bullish leading the pack, followed closely by Figure Technologies and Proof Group.
Bullish had previously backed out of a $9 billion public merger deal with FTX in December last year. Meanwhile, Figure Technologies and Proof Group had both attempted to acquire bankrupt crypto lender Celsius after it filed for bankruptcy, with Proof Group eventually coming out on top.
One of the most valuable part of FTX’s assets lie with their global reach and 9 million customers. However, some buyers have indicated that they are not keen on keeping the FTX brand, and instead onboard them to an exchange with a new name.
The results of the auction are expected to be finalised by next month.