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Crypto M&A Insights and 2024 Projections: Crypto Market Maturation Spurs Mergers

As the crypto industry navigates evolving regulatory clarity, financial institutions are anticipated to heighten acquisition efforts, possibly driving more mergers and acquisitions in the coming year, suggests a Baker Botts partner.

After a slowdown in 2023, expectations are that mergers and acquisitions could see an upswing as the space matures further. In 2022, there were 203 crypto M&A deals, while 2023 witnessed 143 deals by December 13, indicating a potential 27% year-over-year decline, according to Architect Partners.

Notable M&A Deals in 2023:

Ripple’s acquisition of Metaco for $250 million in May reinforced the company’s focus on secure digital asset management. Metaco, a Swiss-based custody infrastructure provider, caters to banks, fintechs, and exchanges.

Coinbase’s $97 million acquisition of One River Digital Asset Management in March expanded its service offerings to institutional clients, aligning with its broader strategy of diversification beyond transaction-based revenue.

Hut 8 and US Bitcoin Corp.’s merger positioned them for enhanced geographic diversity and business lines, crucial ahead of the bitcoin halving.

Tokenization in 2023 M&A Deals:

Traditional finance ventures into the crypto realm, evident in the Depository Trust and Clearing Corporation’s acquisition of Securrency for $50 million. This acquisition signifies the convergence of traditional assets and blockchain-based transaction settlements.

Securitize’s acquisition of Onramp Invest and Fireblocks’ purchase of BlockFold aimed to expand tokenized offerings, enabling access to tokenized alternatives and enhancing smart contract capabilities for financial institutions.

Deutsche Borse’s purchase of FundsDLT showcased the infusion of distributed ledger technology into financial product distribution, optimizing efficiency and reducing costs.

Outlook for 2024:

Regulatory milestones in 2023, such as the Ripple SEC lawsuit outcome and legal actions against exchanges like Coinbase and Binance, might catalyze a wave of mergers in 2024. Greater regulatory clarity might prompt larger financial institutions to acquire significant crypto players or their key assets.

The aftermath of FTX’s asset sale post-bankruptcy shed light on the market’s dynamics, signaling potential acquisitions of crypto derivatives platforms or assets by larger entities.

Continued demand for digital assets, described as “flight-to-quality” assets by BlackRock’s CEO, indicates a growing interest among institutions. Financial institutions aiming to diversify portfolios for their clients might delve into providing cryptocurrency services.

Improved fundamentals for many crypto companies, driven by rising Bitcoin and Ether prices, might restore management confidence, potentially stimulating strategic initiatives through M&A.

With Bitcoin up around 155% and Ether up approximately 85% year-to-date, there’s a gradual thaw in the regulatory landscape, providing room for management teams to consider strategic initiatives through mergers and acquisitions.

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