Bithumb Plans to Become First Crypto Exchange to Go Public on South Korean Stock Market
Crypto exchange Bithumb is gearing up to become the first digital asset company to go public on the South Korean stock market. Local news outlet Edaily reported on Nov. 12 that Bithumb is preparing for an initial public offering (IPO) on the KOSDAQ — South Korea’s version of the United States Nasdaq — with an expected listing date set for sometime in the second half of 2025.
Bithumb declined to confirm whether the IPO was going ahead but admitted they had recently selected an underwriter, a company tasked with guaranteeing the financial security of another typically before a firm goes public. Bithumb chose Samsung Securities as its potential IPO underwriter, according to Edaily.
Former chairman Lee Jeong-hoon returned to Bithumb as its registered director, according to sources familiar with the matter. Meanwhile, CEO Lee Sang-jun was excluded from a place on the board of directors due to an ongoing investigation into alleged bribery.
Additionally, the sources claimed Bithumb’s move to go public resulted from not wanting to give up further market share to Upbit — the largest crypto exchange in South Korea.
Bithumb is currently the second largest crypto exchange in South Korea by daily trading volume, a distant second to Upbit. In July, Upbit’s monthly trading volumes surpassed that of Coinbase and Binance for the first time.
Both Upbit and Bithumb became the subjects of unwanted attention in May when South Korean authorities raided their offices over allegedly fraudulent crypto trading on behalf of a local lawmaker.
In February, Kang Jong-hyun, one of Bithumb’s largest shareholders — and suspected “real owner” — was arrested on embezzlement charges following a lengthy police investigation into his allegedly illicit behavior. 41-year-old Jong-hyun is the elder brother of Kang Ji-yeon, the head of Bithumb affiliate Inbiogen. The firm holds the largest share in Vidente Vidente, the biggest Bithumb shareholder with a 34.2% stake.
Bithumb was founded in 2014 and at the time of publication had a 24-hour trading volume of roughly $580 million, according to CoinGecko data.
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