Nexon’s holding company, NXC, is set to step down as the largest shareholder of Korbit, South Korea’s first Bitcoin exchange, by selling its entire stake of 47.19% in the company. This move comes amidst deteriorating performance of Korbit and lackluster activation of the cryptocurrency market. NXC became the majority shareholder in 2017 by acquiring a 65.89% stake in Korbit for 743 billion won, but its share diluted after SK Square joined as the second-largest shareholder.
Korbit, once ranked among the top three exchanges in South Korea alongside Bithumb and Coinone, has been recording losses since the year following NXC’s acquisition. The speculation is that Nexon’s strategy towards blockchain gaming may change following the divestiture. The divestiture is seen as a result of several years of poor performance by Korbit and a less vibrant cryptocurrency market than expected.
The relationship between NXC and Korbit was significantly influenced by Nexon’s founder, the late Kim Jung-ju, who had a keen interest in the cryptocurrency industry. After acquiring Korbit, he also purchased the European cryptocurrency exchange Bitstamp. However, the industry downturn has led to a gradual worsening of Korbit’s performance. Moreover, after Kim’s passing, there’s been speculation about a potential shift in Nexon’s blockchain game business direction.
The move to sell Korbit has sparked discussions about the difficulties of collaboration between the gaming and cryptocurrency industries. Despite the initial hopes for synergy, the challenging environment and the absence of direct support from NXC during Korbit’s struggles have been highlighted. With the cryptocurrency market’s current state, whether NXC can exit Korbit without incurring losses remains uncertain. NXC has stated that it cannot provide an official position on the sale at this stage.