Galaxy Digital Warns Losses Could Continue as Coronavirus Hits Bottom Line

The crypto merchant bank just managed to keep its head above water in 2019, but says profits will likely suffer amid the effects of Covid-19.

AccessTimeIconApr 9, 2020 at 11:56 a.m. UTC
Updated May 9, 2023 at 3:07 a.m. UTC
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Mike Novogratz's crypto merchant bank, which made another loss in the final quarter of 2019, has warned investors the coronavirus will likely contribute to further declines.

Galaxy Digital reported a net loss of $32.9 million in Q4 2019 on Wednesday. The merchant bank's trading arm incurred the vast majority of losses, more than $32.1 million, which wiped out the bank's other revenue streams and meant the company was unable to offset its operating expenses. Adding unrealized gains and losses, this figure dropped slightly to $32.7 million.

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  • Novogratz, a former hedge fund manager and Goldman Sachs partner, founded Galaxy Digital in January 2018 to invest in the digital asset space. As well as cryptocurrencies, his merchant bank invests in companies working in the industry. Per the recent filings, it holds equity in banking service provider Silvergate, derivatives exchange Bakkt, as well as the crypto venture fund Pantera.

    However, Galaxy has consistently struggled to make much in the way of profit. Many of its quarterly results come out in the red. It made a $68 million loss in the third quarter of 2019, too. In 2018, the firm's first full year of operation, it reported a total loss of $272.7 million.

    Back in February, Galaxy laid off 15 percent of its staff. According to one former employee, the company was forced to cut back because the digital asset space was growing more slowly than anticipated.

    While the second half of 2019 was disappointing for the company, it still reported a comprehensive net income of $25.8 million. As it says in its recent filing, hype around libra earlier in the year led to a resurgence of interest in the digital asset space. Filings from the time show the bank made $113.8 million in Q2 2019, largely as a result of its trading arm.

    However, Galaxy doesn't expect the good times to return just yet. Although the first half of Q1 2020 had looked promising, the company said it will experience knock-on effects from the coronavirus, which has now brought society to a standstill and increased economic uncertainty.

    "[Bitcoin] still remains subject to global risk appetites as positioning decisions are considered in conjunction with investors' broader portfolio," reads Galaxy's securities filing. "Economic growth, both domestically and internationally, appears it will contract in the second quarter of 2020 as a result of COVID-19, which the Partnership believes will lead to challenged and volatile asset price performance."

    "To the extent that the COVID-19 pandemic continues and worsens, the impacts on the global economy are unpredictable and could adversely affect the Partnership’s investments, businesses and GDH Ltd.'s stock price," the bank added.

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