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Kevin O’Leary-Backed DeFi Platform WonderFi to Purchase Bitbuy for $162M in Cash, Shares

DeFi platform WonderFi Technologies Inc. agreed to buy Canadian crypto exchange Bitbuy for C$206 million ($161.8 million) in cash and shares, bringing the ability to purchase crypto and access to decentralized finance (DeFi) under one roof.

WonderFi will pay with 70 million new shares and C$50 million ($39 million) in cash, the company said in a statement Tuesday.

The deal gives WonderFi one of Canada’s fastest-growing crypto platforms, adding 375,000 registered users. The combination will allow it to provide retail customers with an integrated system for buying and investing crypto as it seeks to become an end-to-end consumer platform.

“A licensed marketplace serves as a crucial gateway to the digital asset economy, and facilitates a robust end-to-end, unified client experience,” WonderFi CEO Ben Samaroo said in the statement. “The integration of Bitbuy’s product suite will accelerate and expand the reach and scope that WonderFi can offer to the market, and will drive long-term growth and value.”

Vancouver-based WonderFi closed a financing round in June that included strategic investor Kevin O’Leary. The company rebranded to WonderFi from Defi Ventures in a nod to O’Leary’s nickname as “Mr. Wonderful” from television shows “Shark Tank” and “Dragon’s Den.” WonderFi also credits the billionaire founder of crypto exchange FTX, Sam Bankman-Fried, as a strategic investor, according to its latest presentation.

O’Leary has been an advocate for crypto in recent months and said in a 2022 outlook that his largest position is in ether, the token of the Ethereum blockchain. He also said he owns Polygon (MATIC) and Solana, in addition to bitcoin.

WonderFi is publicly listed on Canada’s NEO Exchange under stock ticker WNDR. The shares rose as much as 13% in early trading, giving the company a market cap of about C$188 million ($148 million).

Bobby Halpern, principal of Toronto-based Halpern & Co., acquired Bitbuy toward the beginning of 2018, when the exchange had about 500 customers and bitcoin prices were crashing. The company generated over C$31 million ($24 million) in revenue during the 12-month period ended Sept. 30, according to the statement.

Read more: Down More than 70% in 2018, Bitcoin Closes Its Worst Year on Record

The deal is expected to close in the first quarter, with Bitbuy’s president and chief financial officer, Dean Skurka, set to join WonderFi’s board. WonderFi first announced a strategic investment in Bitbuy’s parent company, First Ledger Corp., in December for an undisclosed amount.

Investment bank Haywood Securities gave a fairness opinion to WonderFi’s board on the deal, while Canaccord Genuity is the financial adviser to Bitbuy.

UPDATE (Jan. 4, 13:00 UTC): Changes photo to one of the Bitbuy team.

UPDATE (Jan. 4, 15:24 UTC): Adds reason in first and third paragraphs, link to statement in second; replaces quote in fourth; updates share price.

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