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Binance FTX Takeover Deal: How the Crypto Exchange’s Plan to Buy Its Rival Unfolded in a Matter of Days

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Crypto exchange Binance signed a nonbinding agreement on Tuesday to acquire rival crypto exchange FTX, in a dramatic move that capped off a series of back-and-forth salvos between the CEOs of both companies.

Here are the key developments in the longstanding relationship between Binance and FTX:

  • December 2019: Binance invested an undisclosed amount in FTX, which was then a derivatives exchange, CoinDesk reported. Binance also purchased long positions in FTT, FTX’s native crypto token.
  • July 2021: Binance announced that it was selling its stake in FTX, Fortune reported. As part of that exit, Binance received the equivalent of $2.1 billion (roughly Rs. 17,100 crore) in Binance’s stablecoin and FTT, according to Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao.
  • November 2: Crypto news website CoinDesk reported on a leaked balance sheet from Alameda Research, FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried’s crypto trading firm, which maintains close ties with FTX.
    According to CoinDesk’s report, $3.66 billion (roughly Rs. 29,800 crore) of Alameda’s $14.6 billion(roughly Rs. 1,18,750 crore) in assets are held in “unlocked” FTT. Reuters was unable to independently verify the accuracy of the report or the origin of the leaked balance sheet. Still, investors quickly noticed that Alameda’s finances appeared to be heavily dependent on FTT, and FTT’s value was in turn heavily dependent on purchases from FTX, the token’s largest buyer.
  • November 6, 9:32am ET (6:02pm IST): Alameda CEO Caroline Ellison said in a tweet that the “balance sheet info which has been circulating recently” showed only a subset of Alameda’s corporate entities. The firm has more than $10 billion (roughly Rs. 81,350 crore) in assets that are not reflected in the CoinDesk report, she said.
  • November 6, 10:47am ET (9:17pm IST): Concern escalated on Sunday when Zhao tweeted that Binance would liquidate its holdings of FTT “due to recent revelations that have come to light,” although he did not specify which revelations he was referring to or how much of the token Binance held.
  • November 7: In a series of tweets on Monday, Bankman-Fried asserted that “a competitor is trying to go after us with false rumors.”
    “FTX is fine. Assets are fine,” he said.
    He tagged Zhao in a later tweet, saying “I’d love it, @cz_binance, if we could work together for the ecosystem.”
  • November 8: In the 72 hours leading up to Tuesday morning, FTX had seen around $6 billion (roughly Rs. 48,800 crore) of withdrawals, according to a message to staff sent by Bankman-Fried that was seen by Reuters. Also on Tuesday morning, Bankman-Fried wrote that withdrawals are effectively paused.

Shortly after 11am. ET (9:30pm IST), Bankman-Fried tweeted that FTX had “come to an agreement on a strategic transaction with Binance for,” and that while teams were working on clearing the backlog of withdrawal requests, all assets would be covered 1:1.

Zhao tweeted that there is “a significant liquidity crunch” at FTX and, in order to protect users, Binance signed a nonbinding letter of intent to acquire, which does not include FTX’s US entity.

© Thomson Reuters 2022

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