FTX US, the U.S. affiliate of cryptocurrency exchange operator FTX, has inked an agreement that gives it the option to buy cryptocurrency company BlockFi Inc. for up to $240 million.

BlockFi announced the agreement today.

FTX operates one of the largest cryptocurrency exchanges in the world. BlockFi, in turn, is a startup with a platform that enables users to buy, sell and trade digital assets, as well as access cryptocurrency-backed loans. BlockFi has raised $1.3 billion in venture funding, according to Crunchbase.

Reports that FTX may acquire the startup amid a selloff in cryptocurrencies first emerged earlier this week. Previously, FTX provided a $250 million emergency line of credit to BlockFi. The company stated that the credit line is designed to help the startup “navigate the market from a position of strength.”

If FTX US exercises its newly announced option to acquire BlockFi, the deal would be worth up to $240 million. That price tag includes performance-based incentives. Separately, FTX US has agreed to provide the startup with a $400 million revolving credit facility. 

BlockFi Chief Executive Officer Zac Prince provided more information on the factors that led to this week’s deal with FTX in a series of tweets

Prince stated that “crypto market volatility, particularly market events related to Celsius and 3AC, had a negative impact on BlockFi.” Celsius Network LLC is a cryptocurrency loan company that last month froze withdrawals and transfers, while 3AC or Three Arrows Capital is a crypto hedge fund. Three Arrows Capital entered liquidation earlier this week. 

“The Celsius news on June 12th started an uptick in client withdrawals from BlockFi’s platform despite us having no exposure to them,” Prince wrote. “In the same week, 3AC news spread further fear in the market. While we were one of the first to fully accelerate our overcollateralized loan to 3AC, as well as liquidate and hedge all collateral, we did experience ~$80M in losses.”

As for the deal with FTX, Prince stated that BlockFi has not drawn on the $400 million revolving credit facility provided by the cryptocurrency exchange operator. The executive added that all of BlockFi’s products and services will continue to operate as usual. 

“The FTX US platform and products are highly complementary to BlockFi and we anticipate enhancements to our services through increased collaboration,” Prince added.

FTX is led by founder and CEO Samuel Bankman-Fried. The newly announced deal with BlockFi comes after Alameda Research, another company led by Bankman-Fried, last month agreed to provide $500 million in financing to digital asset brokerage Voyager Digital. The financing includes a mix of debt, stablecoins and a bitcoin revolving credit facility.

Photo: Unsplash

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