British cryptocurrency market sold in one of industry's biggest ever deals

Margi Murphy
Kraken owns one of the world's largest Bitcoin exchanges - Getty

A British cryptocurrency company founded by former bankers has been bought for at least $100m (£77m) in what is being described as one of industry's largest ever deals. 

London's Crypto Facilities, which allows trading in Bitcoin futures and derivatives, has been acquired by San Francisco-based Kraken, one of the world's largest cryptocurrency exchanges, for a “nine figure sum”. Kraken did not disclose the exact number but lawyers at Hogan Lovells who advised the British company on the deal confirmed it was “one of the largest M&A deals the emerging crypto industry has seen”. 

The deal merges one of the world’s largest global websites for trading Bitcoin and other coins with the most popular futures markets. It will boost confidence that the cryptocurrency industry, which appeared to have fizzled out somewhat after hitting a peak at the end of 2017, still has life in it. Bitcoin has fallen to around $3,500 (£2,700), well below its peak of $20,000. 

Crypto Facilities is regulated by Britain’s finance watchdog and allows customers to trade futures on six cryptocurrencies including Bitcoin. The company launched its exchange four years ago and was founded by Timo Schlaefer, a former Goldman Sachs executive in London, and Jean-Christophe Laruelle, who worked for BNP Paribas.

Kraken chief executive Jesse Powell said that he believed the industry no longer presented “a get rich quick opportunity or mentality as there was 12 months ago” but compared cryptocurrency to the stock market. “If there’s a bear market it does not mean stocks are dead and everyone should abandon working in securities,” he said. 

He claimed the company had been “grateful” for the cryptocurrency chill after a period where “everything was on fire and we are no longer getting 50,000 people signing up per day” as it relieved pressure on technology, giving some respite for improvements before the next wave.  

Crypto Facilities is regulated by Britain’s finance watchdog and allows customers to trade futures on six pairs of cryptocurrency including Bitcoin, Ethereum, Ripple, XRP, Litecoin and Bitcoin cash.

Kraken has been on a shopping spree since 2016, acquiring Coinsetter, Cavirtex and CleverCoin along with wallet - or crypto storage - service Glidera and tracking website Cryptowatch. It is backed by private investors. It is understood to have laid off a number of staff in its California headquarters toward the end of last year