Leon Li, the founder of cryptocurrency exchange Huobi, is seeking to sell a 60% stake in the company that would value the business at $3 billion, according to a Bloomberg report on August 12, citing people familiar with the matter. However, the report was denied by the platform, which claimed that “no plan has been made on the share transfer of major shareholders and Huobi continues to run healthily as always.”
Bloomberg’s report also stated that Tron founder Justin Sun and Sam Bankman-Fried’s FTX are among those who have been in contact with Huobi regarding the proposed stock sale. Sun denied the news later on Twitter.
Huobi is one of the largest cryptocurrency exchanges in the world, but CoinGecko’s data shows that platforms including Binance, Coinbase, FTX, OKX have now surpassed Huobi in terms of trade volume.
Back in 2013, when Bitcoin first entered China, Leon Li was one of the many entrepreneurs who flocked to the cryptocurrency circle. Before establishing Huobi, Li had explored the group buying industry in China, but failed. After Li founded Huobi in 2013, the price of Bitcoin rose from 800 yuan ($118) to 8,000 yuan. Huobi also rapidly grew into a top crypto exchange, and Li’s personal wealth has increased. He previously ranked 531st with a fortune of 7.5 billion yuan in the Rich List released by Hurun Research Institute.
However, with the clarity of regulatory policies, Huobi gradually withdrew from the Chinese mainland.
On September 4, 2017, seven ministries in China, including the People’s Bank of China, issued a notice on preventing the risks of Bitcoin, requiring the stop of transaction of virtual currencies in China. Huobi later announced that it would stop user registration and close the RMB recharge function, and began to move to overseas markets. Since then, Huobi has operated its global website outside China.
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2021 became an important turning point for Huobi. On September 15, many Chinese regulators jointly issued the notice on further preventing the risks of speculation in virtual currency trading, including banning overseas virtual currency trading platforms from offering virtual currency trading services to Chinese mainland users. Subsequently, Huobi announced that it began to completely remove users from the Chinese mainland, causing a large loss of trading volume and users.