The final round of bidding is likely soon for Bithumb, South Korea’s biggest crypto exchange, with almost no valuation gap between potential buyers and the seller, industry sources said on Thursday (October 29).

Domestic and foreign financial investors and domestic strategic investors have submitted their letters of intent to join the race, and potential buyers are currently conducting due diligence in a virtual data room. The final round of bidding has been delayed a bit while this process is completed.

“Potential buyers wanted to extend the due diligence period,” said an industry source. “The final round of bidding was originally planned for the end of October or early November, but it is likely to be held in mid-November.”

A source familiar with the bidding said a deal is highly likely, as the valuation gap between potential buyers and the seller is not large. Bithumb is reportedly seeking approximately 850 billion won ($749 million) for a 100% stake, based on earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) multiples applied to technology companies.

Bithumb has reportedly recorded EBITDA of over 100 billion won in the first six months of this year, up sharply from its EBITDA of 74 billion won in the whole of 2019. The firm’s commission fees seem to have increased thanks to the rising price of bitcoins, which went from 6 million won to 15 million won in March.

Foreign financial investors or domestic strategic investors are expected to join the final round of bidding. An industry source said it won’t be easy for local financial investors to participate due to a negative perception of crypto-trading in the country.

In 2018, the National Pension Service, Korea’s largest institutional investor, reportedly invested in the controversial crypto-currency exchange operators, including Bithumb, Korbit, Upbit and Coinplug, through two venture capital funds.

“We wanted to participate in the acquisition deal while only taking Bithumb’s profitability and the vision of crypto assets into account, but we couldn’t ignore the social atmosphere,” said a private equity industry source.

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)