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Huobi founder in talks to sell his majority stake

Ryan Lawler
Aug 12, 2022
Illustration of a pattern of hands trading tokens.

Illustration: Gabriella Turrisi/Axios

Huobi founder Leon Li is looking to sell his majority stake in the global crypto exchange, Bloomberg reports.

Why it matters: The stake sale process will allow Li to cash-out a huge sum of money, and allow other investors to come in, all while crypto is in retrenchment mode.

What’s happening: Li is in talks to sell roughly 60% of the company at a valuation of between $2 billion and $3 billion, which could net upwards of $1 billion if a deal goes through.

  • According to Bloomberg, current investors ZhenFund and Sequoia China were informed of the talks at a shareholder meeting last month.

Context: Founded in 2013, Huobi was once the largest bitcoin exchange in the world before China began cracking down on crypto transactions.

  • Over the years, however, it has lost share to competitors and fallen behind much larger exchanges like Binance, Coinbase and FTX in trading volume.

The intrigue: Sam Bankman-Fried’s FTX and Tron founder Justin Sun were reportedly among those in deal talks with Li, though Sun disputed the report in a tweet this morning.

What they’re saying: “We have not engaged any matters related to the Bloomberg story at this moment,” Sun wrote.

The latest: A Huobi spokesperson confirmed the talks in an email to Axios: “Many international institutions have reached out to us with expressions of interest.”

  • “Our founder Leon Li hopes that the new shareholders will be more powerful and resourceful, and that they will value the Huobi brand and invest more capital and energy to drive Huobi's long-term growth.”
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