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Plastic Surgeon Buys $352 Million Stake in South Korea Crypto Exchange

Plastic Surgeon Buys $352 Million Stake in South Korea Crypto Exchange

  • Group led by Kim Byung-gun increases its bet on Bithumb
  • South Korea is home to some of the biggest crypto venues

A group led by plastic surgeon and startup investor Kim Byung-gun is boosting its bet on Bithumb, one of South Korea’s largest cryptocurrency exchanges.

Kim’s BK Global Consortium signed a deal to buy 50 percent plus one share of BTC Holding Co., the largest investor in Bithumb’s operator, for about 400 billion won ($352 million), according to a spokesperson for the trading platform. BK Global Consortium was already the fifth-largest shareholder of BTC Holding.

Kim is increasing his stake after a wild ride for cryptocurrencies over the past two years. South Korea became one of the world’s most active markets for digital assets in 2017 as individual investors across the country piled in, but the speculative frenzy has faded this year as many digital coins lost more than half their value. Korea’s government has banned initial coin offerings and is working on legislation to regulate virtual currency exchanges.

Bithumb, ranked by as the world’s third-largest crypto exchange by reported trading value, posted 218.6 billion won of operating profit in the first half and 39.3 billion won of net income, according to Vidente Co., which holds an indirect stake in Bithumb’s operator.

Read more on cryptocurrencies in South Korea.

The transaction by Kim’s BK Global Consortium will be completed in February, the spokesperson said. Kim made his fortune investing in technology and biotech startups and last year formed a blockchain analysis and crowdfunding company in Singapore, according to a profile by Korea Joongang Daily newspaper.

— With assistance by Shinhye Kang