Huobi Global, once China’s top crypto exchange, has been retooling itself since exiting from the home market following Beijing’s crypto ban. Now the company is nearing a takeover by an investment firm.
Huobi Global announced today that its controlling shareholder has completed the transaction to sell its entire stake to About Capital, a Hong Kong-based fund management firm started by Ted Chen, who founded China’s hedge fund giant Greenwoods Asset Management. This confirms an earlier report by Bloomberg saying the founder Leon Li was looking to sell his majority stake for over $1 billion, valuing the exchange at $3 billion.
Founded in 2013, Huobi Global rode China’s crypto boom before Beijing declared all crypto transactions illegal in 2021. The parent firm Huobi Group now operates an umbrella of crypto-related entities, including its flagship exchange Huobi Global, its venture capital arm Huobi Ventures and a crypto cloud service.
Huobi Global and rival Binance said they’ve stopped servicing China-based customers since the ban. While Binance kicked off global expansion well before the crackdown, Huobi Global appears to have been hit hard by the regulatory change as a big chunk of its users were still in China. The trading platform was reportedly laying off 30% of its workforce this summer after its retreat from China dampened revenues.
About Capital’s buyout won’t affect Huobi’s “core operation and business management teams,” the announcement says. The exact amount of the deal wasn’t disclosed, but it looks like the new parent is providing the much-needed capital to help the exchange ride out its financial troubles and go global in the midst of a crypto rout.
According to About Capital, Huobi Global will “embrace a series of new international brand promotion and business expansion initiatives, including a global strategic advisory board led by leading industry figures, the injection of sufficient capital in margin and risk provision fund, as well as measures to further enhance competitiveness.”
“Following Huobi’s exit from the Chinese mainland market in 2021, we have accelerated our globalization push amidst a challenging market environment, which adds to the impetus for Huobi to seek a new shareholding structure with a global vision and international resources,” Li says in a statement. “We believe the successful acquisition by About Capital vehicle will contribute to Huobi’s global expansion in both aspects.”