DUBAI (Reuters) - Abu Dhabi-based crypto trading firm Hayvn is in talks with institutional investors to anchor a series B funding round that would value it at $400 million as it eyes an eventual initial public offering (IPO), its chief executive officer said.
Hayvn, which raised $5 million in series A funding in 2021, hopes to raise $30 million in the series B round which it expects to close in about three months, CEO Christopher Flinos told Reuters.
Crypto's move into the mainstream has gained pace, with large banks and companies starting to embrace it. Industry backers hope this will reduce digital coin price volatility.
Series A funding usually secures cash for early development plans, followed by a Series B round to fund further expansion.
Hayvn, which offers trading, custody, asset management and payments services, has about $75 million in assets under management and expects that to grow to $500 million by mid-year, Flinos said.
The firm aims to pursue a $150 million IPO when Hayvn reaches a valuation of $1.5 billion, which Flinos expects will be hit in 12 to 16 months.
Hayvn is eyeing acquisitions such as private banks, asset managers and insurers, funded by the IPO proceeds, he said.
Several exchanges are being considered, including New York, London, Toronto, European exchanges and Abu Dhabi.
"I would love to do one in Abu Dhabi," Flinos said. "But you have a responsibility to your shareholders to do it in the place where you get the best liquidity and the best valuation."
Flinos said Hayvn has held talks with five sovereign wealth funds in the Gulf and others in northern Europe and Asia to manage their investments in cryptocurrency, as well as with some on potentially investing in the firm through the series B round.
"We talk with a lot of these entities," he said, adding that he expected most Gulf sovereign wealth funds to have made significant investments in crypto within four months.
"We expect to take our fair share of it because we are regulated in their region," he said.
He said Asian sovereign funds were already invested in crypto, while European ones were about three to four months behind the "more entrepreneurial" Middle East funds.
Hayvn has been operating for a year and received regulatory approval from Abu Dhabi Global Markets (ADGM) in December. It is also licensed in the Cayman Islands and Switzerland.
Abu Dhabi state fund Mubadala told CNBC in December it had invested in the cryptocurrency ecosystem, such as blockchain technology, given the rise in value of digital currencies.
(Reporting by Yousef Saba; Editing by Edmund Blair)