Coinbase valued at $86 billion in choppy Nasdaq debut


FILE PHOTO: A representation of virtual currency Bitcoin and U.S. One Dollar banknotes are seen in front of a stock graph in this illustration taken January 8, 2021. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/File Photo

(Reuters) -Coinbase Global Inc was valued at $86 billion at the end of its Nasdaq debut on Wednesday, in a choppy day of trading when its valuation went as high as $112 billion.

Coinbase's stock market debut, done through a direct listing where no shares are sold ahead of the opening, marks another milestone in the development of bitcoin and other digital assets.

It comes amid a surge in the value of cryptocurrencies which has lured a clutch of mainstream, top-tier firms that have dived into the space.

Coinbase's stock opened at $381 per share, up 52.4% from a reference price of $250 per share set on Tuesday though only 10.9% above the $343.58 volume-weighted average price Coinbase's shares were trading at privately in the first quarter of 2021.

The stock closed at $328.28, which gives Coinbase a fully diluted valuation of $85.78 billion, including unvested stock options and restricted stocks, and a market capitalization of $65.39 billion.

By comparison, New York Stock Exchange owner Intercontinental Exchange Inc has a market cap of around $66 billion.

Founded in 2012, the San Francisco-based firm boasts 56 million users globally and an estimated $223 billion assets on its platform, accounting for 11.3% of crypto asset market share, regulatory filings showed.

"We're just very grateful to be able to bring transparency to the crypto economy, the ecosystem that we've all been building over the last 10 years," Coinbase Chief Financial Officer Alesia Haas said in an interview.

"It just brings this level of recognition that this is an industry that is here, that is growing, and that (is not just) in the corners."

Coinbase was valued at just under $6 billion as recently as September, but has surged in line with bitcoin's gains this year.

The world's biggest and best-known cryptocurrency hit a record of over $63,000 on Tuesday and has more than doubled in value this year as banks and companies warmed to the emerging asset.

BEHOLDEN TO BITCOIN?

The company's most recent financial results underscore how revenues have surged in lock-step with the rally in bitcoin trading volumes and price.

In the first quarter of the year, as bitcoin more than doubled in price, Coinbase estimated revenue of over $1.8 billion and net income between $730 million and $800 million, versus revenue of $1.3 billion for the entire 2020.

"The correlation to bitcoin will be very high after the stock stabilizes after listing," said Larry Cermak, director of research at crypto website The Block.

"When the price of bitcoin goes down, it's inevitable that Coinbase's revenue and inherently the price of the stock will decline as well."

Regulatory risks also loom, others said, as Coinbase increases the number of digital assets users can trade on its platform.

Coinbase last year suspended trading in major digital currency XRP after U.S. regulators charged associated blockchain firm Ripple with a $1.3 billion unregistered securities offering. Ripple has denied the charges.

(Additional reporting by Niket Nishant in Bengaluru, and Tom Wilson and Anna Irrera in London; Editing by Patrick Graham, Jan Harvey, Aurora Ellis and Marguerita Choy)

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