Bitcoin, the world’s largest cryptocurrency, is down more than 50% since the start of 2022.
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Beleaguered cryptocurrency lender Vauld has been rescued by larger rival Nexo in a sign of growing consolidation in the crypto market.
Nexo said on Tuesday it had signed a term sheet with Vauld, giving it 60 days of exclusive negotiations to explore a full equity acquisition of the company. If successful, Nexo said it plans to restructure the company and pursue expansion into Southeast Asia and India.
On Monday, Vauld suspended operations and said it was exploring restructuring options due to “financial challenges” posed by the sharp decline in cryptocurrencies. The Singapore-based company is backed by the likes of Coinbase and Silicon Valley billionaire Peter Thiel.
It is the latest firm to be drawn into the chaos that has engulfed the crypto world recently. Just in the last month, Celsius, another crypto lending firm, put an indefinite pause on withdrawals, citing “extreme market conditions.” Meanwhile, Three Arrows Capital, a crypto hedge fund, filed for bankruptcy protection days after it collapsed into liquidation.
Asked how much Nexo was willing to pay for Vauld, co-founder Antoni Trenchev said it was “premature” to talk about a valuation at this stage. However, he added that he was “optimistic” about reaching a deal.
“We are starting the due diligence,” the Nexo boss told CNBC. “We have a 60-day window of exclusivity when they’re going to open the books. You will see everything. Is there a hole? How big is the hole? Where are the assets? Who are the counterparties?’
Nexo previously gave Celsius a letter of intent offering to buy the company, but said the company declined the offer.
With no government to turn to, several crypto firms have sought the help of their peers in hopes of getting help instead.
Sam Bankman-Fried, the billionaire behind crypto exchange FTX, has become a lender of last resort for the industry. Last week, FTX signed a deal allowing it to buy crypto lending firm BlockFi, while Bankman-Fried’s quant trading shop Alameda Research also extended a credit line to Voyager Digital, a struggling crypto brokerage that last week froze all operations.
Trenchev compared the current market situation to the “panic of 1907,” a series of bank runs that preceded the creation of the Federal Reserve in 1913. With no central bank to rely on at the time, the remaining creditors that survived the crash were bailed out from top financiers, most notably JP Morgan.
“I really think we’re going to see a period of consolidation and M&A. And it will end up with fewer companies but stronger ones with better business practices,” he said.
Bitcoin had its worst month ever in June, losing more than 38% of its value. The world’s largest cryptocurrency is down more than 50% since the start of 2022.