Huobi Group is to expand its trading services to Japan via an imminent deal to purchase local licensed cryptocurrency exchange BitTrade.

In an announcement on Wednesday, Huobi said its wholly owned subsidiary Huobi Japan Holding Ltd has inked an agreement with Eric Cheng, the sole owner of BitTrade, to acquire a majority stake in the firm.

BitTrade is currently one of 16 licensed exchanges in Japan and also a member of the Japanese Virtual Currency Exchange Association.

Huobi declined to disclose the dollar amount of the acquisition and its exact ownership stake in BitTrade when asked by CoinDesk.

A previous announcement indicated that, as recently as June, Cheng had bought 100 percent of a licensed forex trading firm, FX Trade Financial, of which BitTrade is an affiliate, for $50 million.

Huobi’s chief financial officer, Chris Lee, commented on the acquisition:

“Leveraging on BitTrade’s leadership team and its Japanese government-approved license, this is just the beginning as we look to grow BitTrade into the most dominant player in the Japanese cryptocurrency market.”

The deal comes after, in 2017, Japanese financial giant SBI Holdings scrapped a partnership with Huobi that would have allowed the latter to take a stake in SBI’s recently launched VCTRADE crypto exchange. The banking giant said at the time it preferred to use in-house resources to build a security system following the Coincheck hack in January.

The acquisition of a licensed exchange also follows Huobi’s recent effort to buy over 60 percent of a public company listed in Hong Kong with $70 million in a move that paves the way for a possible back-door listing for the crypto exchange.

Japan walk signal image via Shutterstock

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