BlockFi Files for Bankruptcy as FTX Contagion Spreads

BlockFi received a $400 million line of credit from FTX earlier this year.

AccessTimeIconNov 28, 2022 at 3:20 p.m. UTC
Updated Nov 28, 2022 at 10:38 p.m. UTC
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Crypto lender BlockFi filed for bankruptcy protection Monday, days after suspending withdrawals amid the ongoing fallout from exchange FTX's bankruptcy filing.

The company said it was filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, indicating it hoped to restructure, continuing operations in the meantime. According to a press release, BlockFi has about $257 million in cash on hand. A Bermuda-based affiliate is also filing for liquidation, a similar process.

According to the company's petition, BlockFi's executives estimate the company has more than 100,000 creditors, and checked off the ranges. Executives estimate the company has between $1 billion and $10 billion in both assets and liabilities.

The company's largest creditors include West Realm Shires Inc., the legal name for FTX US, which has a $275 million unsecured claim, and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), which has a $30 million unsecured claim. The majority of the other top 50 creditors' names were not shared.

BlockFi's largest creditor is Ankura Trust Company, which the lender appears to have hired in February and now has a $730 million unsecured claim.

BlockFi, which suspended withdrawals a few weeks ago due to the ongoing confusion about FTX's assets, has had a rocky year. The company liquidated a large client earlier this year, and needed a line of credit from FTX to survive earlier this year. In announcing the suspension of withdrawals, BlockFi warned clients not to deposit any funds to its wallet or interest accounts.

The lender was set to raise funding at a $1 billion down round valuation in June, after raising $350 million at a $3 billion valuation in March 2021. As recently as last July, the company was looking to go public within the next year and a half, with a potential $500 million fundraise coming soon.

However, the company had to pay $100 million in February as part of a settlement with the SEC and several state regulators over allegations its high-yield crypto lending product violated state and federal securities laws. As part of the settlement, BlockFi also had to register its BlockFi Yield product with the SEC.

The company cut around a fifth of its workforce in June as the broader cryptocurrency market declined. The market capitalization – one measure of the overall value of the market – fell from over $3 trillion a year ago to $1 trillion by June.

After the collapse of Three Arrows Capital, BlockFi CEO Zac Prince announced that the company had to liquidate a large client, though he did not confirm whether it was Three Arrows or not. Shortly thereafter, crypto exchange FTX extended a $250 million credit facility to the lender, which later morphed into a $400 million credit facility that also gave FTX US the ability to acquire the lender.

However, FTX itself filed for bankruptcy in the second week of November, after days of speculation about whether it was fully liquid. The questions were sparked by a CoinDesk report revealing that much of FTX sister company Alameda's balance sheet was composed of an exchange token, FTT, issued by FTX, which later prompted Binance CEO Changpeng "CZ" Zhao to announce he would liquidate his company's entire set of FTT holdings. FTX later suspended withdrawals.

Amid the confusion, BlockFi announced it would suspend withdrawals, saying it had some number of assets deposited on FTX and was still owed some of the credit FTX had extended.

UPDATE (Nov. 28, 2022, 18:00 UTC): Adds additional detail, updates headline, corrects that West Realm Shires is the legal name for FTX US.


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Nikhilesh De

Nikhilesh De is CoinDesk's managing editor for global policy and regulation. He owns marginal amounts of bitcoin and ether.

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