Crypto currency

South Korean internet giant Naver reportedly joins Bithumb stake race

Major South Korean internet company Naver has reportedly begun negotiations to acquire a stake in the country’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, Bithumb.

Naver has discussed a potential equity stake acquisition with major Bithumb stakeholder Vidente, local publication the Maeil Business Newspaper reported Monday, citing several unnamed sources.

Naver is the provider of South Korea’s largest search engine and Line messenger, and is reportedly seeking to expand its platform’s presence in the country’s fintech market. The internet giant is reportedly planning to add Bitcoin (BTC) as a payment option on its payment services Naver Pay as well as Line Pay in Japan and the United States.

As reported, there are at least 10 firms seeking a stake in Bithumb including major U.S. investment banks like Morgan Stanley and JPMorgan, payment giant Visa, as well as the world’s largest crypto exchange, Binance. According to a report by The Korea Times, Deutsche Bank is also among potential investors.

Bithumb has been the subject of multiple reports and rumors regarding a potential acquisition deal over the past several years. The South Korean crypto giant has reportedly been negotiating the sale with foreign companies since at least 2019, following alleged difficulties with payments in Bithumb’s previous acquisition deals. Gaming conglomerate Nexon denied reports that it was acquiring a stake in the exchange.

Naver did not immediately respond to Cointelegraph’s request for comment.