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Crypto stocks slide after Silvergate decides to shut down

March 9, 2023 6:55 AM EST

FILE PHOTO: Representations of cryptocurrencies are seen in this illustration, August 10, 2022. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

By Niket Nishant, Medha Singh and Hannah Lang

(Reuters) - Shares of crypto-focused companies fell on Thursday after Silvergate Capital Corp disclosed plans to wind down operations and voluntarily liquidate, as the aftermath of FTX's implosion last year reverberates through the industry.

Shares in Silvergate plunged more than 35% to $3.17, a day after hitting a record low and have lost 64% since March 1 when the company flagged a going concern risk.

Analysts said a complete closure of the crypto lender could take one or two years depending on how quickly outstanding loans are repaid and assets are disposed of.

Silvergate's latest move adds to a list of high-profile collapses among crypto market players since last year.

"We believe this decision was made, at least in part, to help mitigate Silvergate Bank's legal liability related to FTX's bankruptcy," Wedbush analysts wrote in a note.

Silvergate did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the analysts' view.

GRAPHIC-Silvergate stock performance since FTX crisis (https://www.reuters.com/graphics/FINTECH-CRYPTO/SILVERGATE/egpbyoxkrvq/chart.png)

Meanwhile, shorting in the shares of Silvergate has proved profitable for bearish investors as its shares have lost 95% of their value in the past 12 months and 72% so far this year.

Nearly 85% of the company's free float is under short position with short sellers making $241 million in year-to-date mark-to-market profit, according to analytics firm S3 Partners.

While Silvergate said its liquidation plan includes a full repayment of all deposits, many within the crypto industry were still left wondering how the bank's demise would impact other firms.

"As the situation continues to unfold, we’ll have to closely monitor whether exchanges can smoothly transition from Silvergate and whether Silvergate truly is sufficiently capitalized," said Eric Chen, the chief executive officer and co-founder of Injective Labs, a company focused on decentralized finance.

Shares of peer Signature Bank, which has been pivoting away from crypto since late last year, fell more than 11%. The S&P 500 bank index tumbled nearly 6% on Thursday.

In its second mid-quarter update this month, Signature said digital assets accounted for just 18.5% of its total deposit balance.

Crypto exchange Coinbase Global, which cut ties with Silvergate last week, dipped more than 7%. Miners Riot Blockchain fell more than 11% and Marathon Digital slid 10% .

Bitcoin was last trading at $20,754, near its lowest level since January, with analysts and investors saying the market impact of the news was limited as it was widely expected.

(Reporting by Medha Singh and Niket Nishant in Bengaluru and Hannah Lang in Washington; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila, Arun Koyyur and Nick Zieminski)



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