Crypto exchange Bithumb has delayed the selection of a preferred bidder after the valuation gap with potential buyers widened due to an increase in the value of its cryptocurrencies.

Sale manager Samjong KPMG held the final round of bidding on November 20 for Bithumb, South Korea’s biggest crypto exchange, and plans to name the preferred bidder soon, industry sources said on Friday (December 4). Bithumb was originally expected to announce its preferred bidder on November 30.

“The selection of the preferred bidder was expected to go smoothly as some of the potential buyers are keen to buy the company, but it is difficult to predict when the preferred bidder will be chosen now,” said an industry source.

With the selection delayed, market insiders are looking closely at the value of Bithumb’s cryptocurrencies. The valuation gap between the seller and potential buyers may have widened as Bithumb wants to sell the company at a higher price due to the recent rise in the value of cryptocurrencies, including bitcoin and ethereum, an industry source said.

Bithumb has said it had more than 712 million tokens in 2019, including 856 bitcoins and 15,216 ethereums. Their total value was about 17.4 billion won ($16 million) at the end of 2019, with bitcoins and ethereums accounting for about 54.3%.

Bitcoin was priced at about 8,340,000 won and ethereum at about 150,000 won at the end of last year, but as of Friday their values had risen 2.5 times and 4.7 times respectively, to 21,700,000 won and 700,000 won.

As Bithumb’s holdings of bitcoin and ethereum have remained the same over the last 12 months, the value of the two tokens is likely to have nearly doubled to 30 billion won. The total value of Bithumb’s entire virtual assets is estimated to be over 50 billion won thanks to the recent rise in the price of cryptocurrencies.

“The seller will seek to sell the company at a higher price because the total value of Bithumb’s cryptocurrencies has risen, but it could be difficult for potential buyers to accept that Bithumb’s valuation has risen by tens of billions of won in such a short amount of time,” said a source. Narrowing the price gap will be the key to a deal, the source added.

A100% stake in Bithumb has been put up for sale. Seller Bithumb Holdings’ current shareholders include DAA, with a 30% stake, BTHMB Holdings (10.7%), Vidente (34.24%) and others with a combined 25.06% stake. (Reporting by Byung-yoon Kim)