Bullish Global, the crypto group backed by billionaires Peter Thiel, Louis Bacon and Alan Howard, has announced plans to list in New York through a Spac deal in a further sign of the industry’s willingness to tap equity markets.
The digital asset group, which is managed by blockchain software company Block.one, said on Friday it would merge with Far Peak Acquisition Corp, a blank cheque company led by former New York Stock Exchange president Tom Farley.
The deal values Bullish at around $9bn, a number that largely comprises the $692m of cash held at Far Peak and the assets and investment supplied by Thiel, Bacon, Block.one and others to capitalise Bullish Global in May.
Hong Kong businessman Richard Li, German financier Christian Angermayer, Michael Novogratz’s Galaxy Digital and Nomura, the Japanese investment bank, have also backed Bullish.
The move by Bullish, which plans to launch a digital asset exchange but has yet to begin trading, underscores a push by crypto investors to list their nascent projects in the US, the world’s biggest equity market.
Circle, the US financial technology company behind the USD Coin stablecoin, announced plans on Thursday to merge with a special purpose acquisition vehicle and list on the New York Stock Exchange.
Bakkt, a cryptocurrency platform majority owned by conventional exchanges behemoth Intercontinental Exchange, is also due to list following a combination with the Victory Park Capital acquisition vehicle in January. Coinbase, the exchange, also debuted on Wall Street in April.
Bullish and its backers are betting on the growth of decentralised finance, or DeFi, a market that has grown from about $15bn at the start of the year to $65bn, according to an estimate by analysts at JPMorgan in May.
The group will run a decentralised trading network, which allows users to buy and sell digital assets directly with each other and bypass intermediaries that impose fees, such as an exchange or clearing house.
It will encourage trading using automated market makers, which do not trade through an exchange’s central order book. Instead they deposit their assets into a computer-coded contract, and algorithms search out buyers and handle buying and selling.
Owners of assets are incentivised by sharing in the pool of fees generated by trading activity. Bullish plans to run a pilot of its exchange for potential users to test in coming weeks.
Decentralised trading remains in its infancy and the biggest networks are built on the ethereum blockchain, a rival to Block.one’s EOS.IO.
Experts have described the defi market as the world’s most difficult to trade in because it is anonymous, there are hundreds of coins and they all have different trading characteristics. Hackings are also common, according to blockchain analytics group CipherTrace. Users have also complained about the high fees that are charged to compensate for the computing energy needed to execute trades on ethereum.
Farley will become chief executive of Bullish and Block.one chief executive Brendan Blumer will be appointed chair of Bullish. “We’re only in the first or second inning of the cryptocurrency market and I’m thrilled to be joining the Bullish team as we revolutionise the future of digital assets through cutting edge financial technologies,” said Farley.
The deal is expected to close by the end of the year.