FTX has reportedly kicked off acquisition talks with at least three brokerage startups, according to a report citing unnamed sources. The second-largest crypto derivatives exchange has been speaking with Webull, Public.com, and Apex Clearing, the sources told CNBC. If the reports are true, it could be a sign that FTX is making another serious push into stock trading.
Last week, FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried disclosed in an SEC filing that he upped his stake in Robinhood (HOOD) to 7.6% at the end of April. On the day he made the transaction, HOOD shares closed at $9.81, making his stake in the company worth roughly $554 million.
On Monday afternoon, HOOD was trading at $9.94 per share after having fallen to $8.15 during the worst of the crypto and traditional market meltdowns two weeks ago. Its market cap is currently $8.7 billion.
A spokesperson at FTX declined Decrypt’s request for comment. Representatives for Webull, Public.com, and Apex Clearing did not immediately respond.
All three companies—Webull, Public.com, and Apex Clearing—are registered brokerages with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), which means that they can buy and sell securities, such as stocks, on their own or on clients’ behalf.
Webull and Public.com are also registered as investment advisers.
An investment adviser (FINRA intentionally spells it with an “e”) is allowed to provide securities investment advice to clients. People with those licenses tend to do business as asset, portfolio, and wealth managers.
Apex Clearing provides clearing and custody services for robo advisors Betterment and Wealthfront. Last year, Webull was rumored to be considering an initial public offering at a valuation between $300 million to $400 million.
Public.com started offering crypto assets on its platform last year and got its BitLicense application approved to offer the service to New York residents in March.
Gaining marketshare through acquisitions is a strategy FTX has employed before. Last August, the U.S. based arm of FTX, FTX US, announced that it had agreed to acquire derivatives firm LedgerX.
“This is probably one of the most exciting announcements we’ve ever had,” Bankman-Fried, the founder and CEO of FTX, commented on the deal at the time.
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