South Korean Conglomerate Hanwha Buys $52 Million Stake in Upbit


South Korean conglomerate Hanwha Group’s brokerage arm, Hanwha Investment and Securities, is purchasing a 6.15 percent stake in Dunamu, the operator of one of the country’s largest crypto exchange, Upbit, according to The Korean Herald.

The conglomerate will gain around 2.06 million shares in the crypto exchange operator for nearly 58.3 billion won ($52.24 million), and the deal will be closed on February 22.

Betting Big on Crypto?

Hanwha already has some crypto exposure with a few of its previous investments. The conglomerate backed CrossAngle, a crypto startup working in institutional data services, in its $3 million round. It further participated in the $31 million funding round of Stellar-based blockchain startup, Lightnet last month.

An official of Hanwha Investment revealed that the investment in Dunamu would be a mid-to-long-term deal for the brokerage.

“As we are focusing on developing more digital services, we anticipate to achieve meaningful results in fintech-related businesses,” the official told the local publication. “Since Dunamu already has a high-skilled innovative finance service, we decided to cooperate with the financial technology firm.”

The minority stake is being acquired at a time when Upbit is aggressively expanding its footprint in both local and global markets. It recently launched an affiliate crypto exchange in Thailand with several local partnerships, which might turn out to be a major success as the Thai market is dominated by only one player.

In November 2019, Upbit was hacked, resulting in the theft of $50 million in Ether. However, the exchange did not lose its popularity in South Korea and was quick enough to introduce enhanced security.

While the acquisition of Dunamu’s minority stake is finalized, the owner of its local competitor, Bithumb is still looking for a buyer.

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