Two cryptocurrency trading firms are merging and, in a rare twist, so are their tokens.
Voyager Digital, a publicly traded digital asset brokerage with offices in New York, has agreed to buy LGO, a French crypto exchange primarily serving institutional investors, as Voyager expands to Europe.
The transaction requires regulatory approval, which the parties said they expect to receive by the end of this year along with the token swap. The value of the deal will depend on the value of Voyager’s shares and the firms’ tokens, at closing. At current prices it would be in the low seven figures.
As such, this deal is dwarfed by this year’s blockbuster crypto M&A deals such as Binance’s acquisition of CoinMarketCap, estimated to be worth $400 million, and FTX’s $150 million deal to acquire Blockfolio.
What makes this deal unusual is the two companies’ utility tokens, VGX and LGO, will be swapped into newly minted tokens featuring decentralized finance (DeFi) functions such as community governance and staking at an initial interest rate of 7%.
“We think this is really taking the old-school mergers and acquisitions to the token world, which hasn’t been done before,” Steve Ehrlich, Voyager’s co-founder and chief executive officer, told CoinDesk.
Upon completion, Voyager, which is publicly listed on the Canadian Securities Exchange, will issue one million shares for the acquisition and operate in the European retail market with LGO’s Virtual Asset Service Provider registration with the French Financial Markets regulator (AMF). All activities will be conducted under the Voyager brand and LGO will discontinue its institutional services on Oct. 31. Shares of Voyager closed at C$0.67 (US$0.51) on Wednesday.
Hugo Renaudin, co-founder and chief executive officer of LGO, told CoinDesk the French company made the deal after it decided to shift its focus from institutional clients to increasing value for its token holders.
“The key decision maker is what will bring the most value to our tokens,” Renaudin said. “So we have this token. We have token holders and they’re mostly retail” clients.
LGO launched an initial coin offering (ICO) in February 2018, according to its website, which raised 3,600 bitcoin (worth about $36 million at the time). The company’s white paper shows that 60% of the tokens were distributed through a pre-sale process, while 20% of the supply went to LGO’s founders and advisers.
At its peak in April 2018, the LGO token’s market cap was nearly $40 million, according to data from CoinMarketCap. On Wednesday, that value was calculated to be $1.5 million.
Renaudin told CoinDesk the company’s other option would have been focusing on better serving its institutional clients, which means its spot exchange would have to provide new and exotic derivatives products. After consideration, he said the team had decided to change its focus to retail customers instead.
The merger comes during a time of regulatory crackdown on crypto derivatives trading around the globe. Popular crypto derivatives exchange BitMEX was charged by the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) with facilitating unregistered trading activities, while in the U.K., the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has banned crypto derivatives for retail consumers.
This is not the first acquisition by Voyager, which went public in early 2019 in a reverse merger with the shell of a Canadian mineral exploration company. Previously, it acquired wallet startup Ethos.io for about $4 million.
Voyager’s revenue in the most recent fiscal quarter, which ended Sept. 30, surged to about $2 million, compared with $1.1 million during the fiscal year ending in June.
“We are becoming the financial service firm of the future, which means I will look at acquisitions that can add products, customer assets to the platform or tokens and other communities that can be accretive to what we are trying to do,” Ehrlich said. “And adding these pieces together we are going to either do it organically or through more acquisitions.”
Correction (Oct. 22): “Corrected misspellings of ‘Ehrlich.’“