Bernstein: Binance-FTX Deal May Attract Antitrust Regulators’ Attention

Crypto exchange Binance would have a more than 80% share of the global crypto market if the agreement to buy rival FTX goes ahead, and that could attract the attention of antitrust regulators, Bernstein said in a research report Tuesday.

Binance agreed to buy FTX on Tuesday after its rival suffered a liquidity crisis. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Read more: FTX Agrees to Sell Itself to Rival Binance Amid Liquidity Scare at Crypto Exchange

Bernstein notes that the FTX and Binance entities holding the non-U.S. business are offshore, but if FTX has investments in U.S. and European jurisdictions, it could give a reason for regulators in those regions to intervene.

“All eyes are immediately focused on the probability of the deal,” and any likelihood of it not completing is bearish for crypto markets, analysts Gautam Chhugani and Manas Agrawal wrote.

Due diligence will take time and will involve determining if there is a shortfall versus customer funds, the report said. Binance also has to investigate if there are any “wrongdoings from diversion of customer funds to related parties or unauthorized purposes.”

If there’s a hole in  FTX’s balance sheet, “Binance would acquire FTX as a fire sale, by making whole the customers,” the note said, and investors may raise legal questions about FTX’s conduct and whether there has been any potential wrongdoing.

Earlier this year, FTX investors bought in at valuations of $18 billion and $32 billion, in two consecutive funding rounds. Subject to the balance sheet situation, this could be an “extremely disastrous outcome for investors,” the note said.

Read more: FTX, Binance Deal Draws Antitrust Concern