FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried happily acknowledges that the deals his companies have made to bail out troubled crypto lenders amid the crash don't necessarily look so great.
The goal in each case, he says, is not an "amazing deal" but merely an "okay deal," and to limit how much he's "throwing good money after bad," he said on the latest episode of Decrypt's gm podcast.
“We came into this knowing that these were not necessarily going to be winners for us. We’re comfortable with that fact,” Bankman-Fried said. “And I think when you look at Voyager, we’ll see what happens, but best guess is like, that’s $70 million down the drain that we probably won’t see again.”
Since Voyager filed for bankruptcy in early July, after issuing a default notice to insolvent hedge fund Three Arrows Capital, its stock plummeted and then got delisted. Voyager's bankruptcy filing revealed that Bankman-Fried's Alameda Research, which extended Voyager a $500 million line of credit, itself owes Voyager $377 million.
A few weeks into the bankruptcy proceeding, FTX proposed a rescue deal that Voyager called a "low-ball bid dressed up as a white knight rescue.” Last week, the firm was approved to return $270 million to its affected customers.
Alameda has so far extended $70 million of the line of credit to Voyager, the amount Bankman-Fried is referring to as basically lost. "The way we structured it was basically there's $70 million that we knew we would maybe never see again," he told Decrypt. "We're not feeling too confident about getting that back."
Bankman-Fried is more optimistic about the way things have fared at BlockFi, where the total line of credit is now $680 million and includes the option for FTX to acquire BlockFi at a variable price of up to $240 million based on “performance triggers,” BlockFi CEO Zac Prince said on Twitter in early July.
Yesterday we signed definitive agreements, subject to shareholder approval, with FTX US for:
1. A $400M revolving credit facility which is subordinate to all client funds, and
2. An option to acquire BlockFi at a variable price of up to $240M based on performance triggers.
— Zac Prince (@BlockFiZac) July 1, 2022
“We were able to get them to a place where they are really strong from a balance sheet perspective, where they’re able to continue operating full steam ahead with plenty of excess capital for customer assets,” he said. “And there’s no contagion from it because there’s no hole in the first place.”
The two deals that Bankman-Fried did make, with BlockFi and Voyager, came after a process of reaching out to many other struggling crypto companies and finding them unwilling or unable to participate, in Bankman-Fried's view.
“On all of these bailout-like things that we’ve tried, we’ve reached out to everyone we could in the ecosystem and said, ‘Hey, you guys interested in working with us on this?’” Bankman-Fried said. “And in general, ‘No,’ was the answer, or rather ‘Yes’ followed by, 'Wait, that company looks like there might be a hole in the balance sheet and maybe there was some mismanagement.' And we’re like, I don’t know what you were expecting, dude.”