- Bithumb, a major South Korean crypto exchange, is preparing for an IPO on the Kosdaq, aiming for a listing in the second half of 2025.
- The exchange has selected Samsung Securities as its underwriter amidst a competitive market and legal challenges involving its executives.
Bithumb, one of South Korea’s leading cryptocurrency exchanges, is making strategic moves to become the first digital asset company to enter the South Korean stock market through an initial public offering (IPO). According to a recent report by local news outlet Edaily, Bithumb is targeting a listing on the Kosdaq, South Korea’s equivalent of the U.S. Nasdaq, with plans to go public in the second half of 2025.
Preparing for the IPO
While Bithumb has not officially confirmed its IPO plans, it has taken significant steps towards this goal by selecting an underwriter. The role of an underwriter is crucial, as they guarantee the financial security of a company before it goes public. In this pivotal move, Bithumb has chosen Samsung Securities as its potential IPO underwriter, signaling the seriousness of its intentions.
Management Changes and Market Position
The exchange has seen notable changes in its leadership. Former chairman Lee Jeong-hoon has resumed his position as Bithumb’s registered director. In contrast, CEO Lee Sang-jun has not been included on the board of directors, owing to an ongoing investigation related to alleged bribery.
Bithumb’s decision to pursue an IPO is partly driven by competitive pressures in the South Korean crypto market. The exchange, currently the second-largest by daily trading volume, aims not to lose further ground to Upbit, the market leader. Upbit’s trading volumes have recently outstripped global giants like Coinbase and Binance, highlighting the intense competition in the region.
Legal Scrutiny and Shareholder Dynamics
Both Bithumb and Upbit have faced scrutiny from South Korean authorities, including office raids related to alleged fraudulent crypto trading. Additionally, Bithumb’s significant shareholder, Kang Jong-hyun, was arrested on embezzlement charges, raising questions about the exchange’s governance.
Kang Jong-hyun, the elder brother of Kang Ji-yeon, head of Bithumb affiliate Inbiogen, is considered a key figure in Bithumb’s shareholder structure. Inbiogen is a major player in Vidente, Bithumb’s largest shareholder, owning a significant 34.2% stake.
Bithumb’s Market Presence
Founded in 2014, Bithumb has established itself as a dominant player in the South Korean cryptocurrency market. At the time of publication, the exchange reported a 24-hour trading volume of approximately $580 million, as per CoinGecko data.
In conclusion, Bithumb’s planned IPO on the Kosdaq represents a significant development in the cryptocurrency industry, reflecting the growing integration of digital asset companies into traditional financial markets. As Bithumb navigates through competitive pressures and legal challenges, its IPO journey is set to be a landmark event in the crypto world, closely watched by investors and industry observers alike.