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Top crypto firms go on the hunt for acquisition targets as market crashes


Two top cryptocurrency companies, Ripple and FTX, told CNBC that they’re on the lookout for acquisitions as the industry hopes to drive growth through buying other firms.

It is a sign that some crypto firms feel that they’re large enough and well capitalized to splash the cash on acquisitions.

Brett Harrison, president of cryptocurrency exchange FTX U.S., said in an interview last week that the company is in “a very good spot in terms of our capital and cash” and will “look around the market for potential merger and acquisition opportunities.”

Harrison said that FTX U.S. will look for companies which will help them acquire more users or regulatory licenses. In 2020, FTX acquired trading platform Blockfolio which helped it get more users. Earlier this month, CNBC reported that FTX is looking for brokerage start-ups to acquire to push further into stock trading.

Last year, FTX U.S. bought LedgerX, a futures exchange that had several licenses from regulators in the U.S.

“We’re doing that globally, in places like in Japan, Australia, in Dubai, different places where we’ve been able to either partner with local companies or sometimes do acquisitions to be able to get licenses that we need,” Harrison said.

Meanwhile, Brad Garlinghouse, CEO of cross-border payments company Ripple, said the company has “a very strong balance sheet,” predicting a rise in mergers and acquisitions in the crypto industry.

“I think there’ll be an uptick in M&A in the blockchain and crypto space. We haven’t seen that yet. But I think that’s likely in the future. And I certainly think as that unfolds, we would consider things like that,” Garlinghouse told CNBC in an interview last week at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

“We’re now at a stage of growth where I think we’re more likely to be the buyer versus the … seller,” he added.

Mergers and acquisition activity in crypto boomed in 2021 with the global value of such transactions totaling more than $55 billion, versus $1.1 billion in 2020, according to PWC. That coincided with a boom in cryptocurrency prices that took bitcoin to an all-time high in November last year.

But since then, prices have come crashing down. Bitcoin is about 55% off of its record high of $68,990.90, according to CoinDesk data.

A drop in cryptocurrency prices, and potentially valuations of companies in the industry, could make certain acquisitions attractive to larger players.

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