Mingxing “Star” Xu, the founder of cryptocurrency exchange OKCoin, has become the largest individual shareholder of a public company listed in Hong Kong via a $60 million acquisition.
LEAP Holdings Group, the construction engineering firm acquired, announced the competed deal on Wednesday. OKC Holdings Corp, the parent company of OKCoin, purchased about 3.2 billion shares of the company for HK$0.15 (around $0.02) per share to achieve the takeover, it said.
OKC Holdings is now the largest shareholder of LEAP Holdings, owning 60.49 percent of its stock and having the same percentage of voting rights. As a result, the exchange is a step closer to a possible back-door listing on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange (HKEX).
Xu holds the majority stake in OKC Holdings with 52.32 percent ownership through two firms StarXu Capital and OKEM Services Company.
Other notable shareholders of OKC Holdings include Gang Mai, who holds 5.08 percent stake via Vlab Capital, and Bo Feng of Ceyun Ventures holding 9.86 percent through Golden Status Ventures. Mai also has another joint fund called Venturelab jointly created with the U.S.-based venture capitalist Tim Draper. Jing Shi, daughter of Chinese billionaire entrepreneur Yuzhu Shi, also invested in OKC Holdings and owns 13 percent.
OKC Holdings initially filed for the application with the HKEX on Jan. 10 to buy the controlling stake in LEAP Holdings Group, with the deal closing in just two weeks.
Crypto exchanges are increasingly looking to opt for a reverse-merger route to become publicly listed companies, rather than going for the conventional IPO route which is a lengthy and complex process.
Just yesterday, the holding company of South Korea’s Bithumb exchange signed a binding letter of intent agreement with U.S.-listed investment firm Blockchain Industries for a reverse merger.
And, last August, Singapore-based crypto exchange Huobi took a similar step, acquiring 66.26 percent of a HKEX-listed firm called Pantronics Holdings for around $70 million.
Billionaire investor Michael Novogratz also chose the reverse takeover route in July 2018, merging his crypto merchant bank, Galaxy Digital, with Toronto-listed shell company Bradmer Pharmaceuticals to become publicly listed in Canada.