Crypto lender Genesis files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in US

Firm is latest casualty in sector as cryptocurrencies contagion spreads after FTX collapse

The cryptocurrency lender Genesis has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the US, becoming the latest victim of the shakeout in the digital asset market after the collapse of the crypto exchange FTX.

Genesis Global Capital, one of three Genesis entities that applied for bankruptcy protection on Thursday, froze customer withdrawals on 16 November, days after FTX made its own Chapter 11 filing.

The lender said it had assets and liabilities in the range of $1bn to $10bn, and estimated it had more than 100,000 creditors in its filing with the US bankruptcy court for the southern district of New York. Genesis Global Holdco, the parent group of Genesis Global Capital, also filed for bankruptcy protection, along with another lending unit, Genesis Asia Pacific.

Genesis Global Holdco said options under consideration included a sale and that it had $150m in cash to support the restructuring. Under a Chapter 11 process, a struggling company is sheltered from creditors temporarily while it attempts to restructure its finances.

Genesis’s derivatives and spot trading, broker dealer and custody businesses were not part of the bankruptcy process, and would continue their client trading operations, the holding company said.

The bankruptcy filing is the latest in a cascade of crypto failures and steep job cuts triggered by plunging digital asset prices last year.

Last year, Genesis extended $130.6bn in crypto loans and traded $116.5bn in assets, according to its website. Its two biggest borrowers were Three Arrows Capital, a Singapore-based crypto hedge fund, and Alameda Research, a trading company closely affiliated with FTX, a source told Reuters. Three Arrows, Alameda and FTX are in bankruptcy proceedings.

Three Arrows’ debt to Genesis was assumed by its parent company, the venture capital firm Digital Currency Group (DCG), which then filed a claim against Three Arrows. DCG’s portfolio companies also include the crypto asset manager Grayscale and news service CoinDesk.

Crypto lenders, which acted as de facto banks, boomed during the pandemic. But unlike traditional banks, they are not required to hold capital cushions. This year, a shortfall of collateral forced some lenders – and their customers – to shoulder large losses.

However, the price of bitcoin, the cornerstone crypto asset, has recovered since the FTX collapse and is trading above $20,000 after hovering at about $17,000 after one its rivals crashed. Bitcoin’s price was $20,946 on Friday morning, up nearly 1%.

Carol Alexander, a professor of finance at the University of Sussex, said the Chapter 11 move by Genesis had been priced in by crypto markets.

“The industry has already discounted the insolvency of Genesis. It won’t halt the bitcoin bull run. Ordinary investors have been very scared by recent events in crypto markets. But when they see prices trending again, they will reinvest in crypto – thereby also providing fees to crypto institutions –believing it is safe to do so.”


Dan Milmo and agency

The GuardianTramp

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