Crypto billionaire Sam Bankman-Fried’s exchange firm FTX is reportedly exploring a possible acquisition of Robinhood – a development that sent shares of the struggling stock trading platform soaring 14% on Monday.
Executives at FTX, a leading cryptocurrency exchange that rivals Coinbase and Binance internationally, are “deliberating internally” on how to buy Robinhood, Bloomberg reported, citing sources familiar with the matter.
FTX has yet to formally approach Robinhood with an offer and have yet to make a final decision on whether to pursue a takeover, the sources added.
“We are excited about Robinhood’s business prospects and potential ways we could partner with them,” Bankman-Fried said in an email to Bloomberg. “That being said, there are no active M&A conversations with Robinhood.”
Trading of Robinhood shares was briefly halted around 3 p.m. ET as news about FTX’s potential interest surfaced. Trading resumed about 10 minutes later.
Robinhood declined to comment. FTX did not immediately return a request for comment.
Robinhood’s co-founders, CEO Vlad Tenev and Chief Creative Officer Baiju Bhatt control more than 50% of the company’s voting power, according to company filings.
FTX’s reported interest emerged weeks after an SEC filing revealed that Emergent Fidelity Technologies, a firm owned by Bankman-Fried, had bought a 7.6% stake in Robinhood worth $648 million. The purchase established Bankman-Fried’s Emergent as Robinhood’s third-largest shareholder.
The filing said that the firm took a stake because was “an attractive investment.” Robinhood rolled out crypto wallet functionality on its platform earlier this year.
Robinhood shares are down about 50% since January as the trading platform weathers a downturn in the broader market that has slammed investors large and small – including the retail “meme stock” traders that made the company a household name during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In April, Robinhood reported a $392 million loss for the first quarter. Quarterly revenue shrank 43% to $299 million compared to one year earlier, and the company acknowledged a decline in its monthly active user base.
The company laid off 9% of its workforce that month, citing rapid headcount growth that led to overlap in some roles.