Coming off fresh first quarter losses undeterred, giant cryptocurrency merchant bank, Galaxy Digital, began trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange August, 1, 2018. It is one of the earliest banks in the crypto space to achieve such a listing. Many eyes are watching to see what will become of the relationship between legacy financial institutions and digital assets.
Galaxy Digital Trades, a Bitcoin Merchant Bank, Now Trades on TSX Venture Exchange
Famed billionaire investor Mike Novogratz explained, “If I knew what I know now, knew the crypto markets were going to swoon as much, and it was going to take so long, I might have stayed private for another year or so and then gone public, but I don’t think it’s a mistake,” Galaxy Digital’s CEO told Bloomberg in Toronto.
Crypto markets have been unkind to any investor who might’ve jumped-in during late 2017. His interview otherwise ought to have been triumphant, representing one of the earliest cryptocurrency-oriented merchant banks to be listed formally on a major stock exchange. He was in Toronto for just that purpose: Galaxy Digital is now trading on a world ranked, top ten, board, the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX).
Instead, to a degree, it was bittersweet. The company was smarting off a brutal first quarter earnings call, posting over $130 million in losses. Rather than charging full steem on success, it appeared from a public relations standpoint to be limping as a financial canary in a very dark mineshaft.
“There was a surge of companies,” Mr. Novogratz continued, “that listed in Canada and they all traded really poorly. I think the regulators got a little bit more nervous and said, ‘Hey, wait a minute, let’s make sure we know what we’re seeing here.’” Regulators were used to what as known as reverse takeovers to get a listing, a maneuver Galaxy was taking advantage of in order to get a seat, but when cryptocurrency is involved that apparently was enough to warrant extra looks under the hood.
“There’s a layer of due diligence,” TSX’s managing director Brady Fletcher elaborated, “that goes into figuring out and understanding the business itself, which probably takes a little bit longer than entrepreneurs like Mike would like it to, but for us that’s how we maintain market integrity.” TSX, by market cap, is the ninth largest stock exchange in the world. Based in Ontario, Canada, it offers a range of industries, domestic and foreign, but is mostly known for being oil and gas heavy. It also offers traditional securities, exchange traded funds, income trusts, etc.
Extra scrutiny effectively tied up Galaxy and its investors, as they could only watch for months, while regulators do what regulators do ahead of a listing, and markets fell. Mr. Novogratz knows from markets as a former hedge fund guy. He also knows crypto, having also famously made hundreds of millions trading ether and bitcoin.
That acumen led to becoming a full fledged merchant bank in the space by late last year. Galaxy is full service, trading digital assets, managing funds, giving financial advice, and investing in ecosystem businesses.
The CEO assured Bloomberg, “We’re going to be a global company; we want to be globally traded.” He wants listings eventually in Hong Kong, Frankfurt, London as well. For now, the New York company will trade under Galaxy Digital Holdings Ltd, ticker GLXY at the TSX Venture Exchange.
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Author: C. Edward Kelso