(Bloomberg) — Anthony Scaramucci said SkyBridge Capital is trying to buy back the 30 percent of his company that Sam Bankman-Fried’s FTX acquired months before the crypto exchange crashed — an attempt now complicated by FTX’s bankruptcy.
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“My legal team and my other partners are working to buy back that stake,” Scaramucci said Friday in an interview with CNBC shortly before FTX filed for bankruptcy. “We are in a worse position because of the fact that we made the decision to have Sam join the main table at SkyBridge. There’s no doubt we’re worse off – he hurt the industry.”
Less than two hours after Scaramucci’s remarks, FTX revealed the start of bankruptcy proceedings. More than 130 entities related to FTX.com, FTX US and trading firm Alameda Research Ltd. were listed in filings in federal court in Delaware, with Bankman-Fried resigning as CEO of FTX Group as part of the filing.
Any buyback of FTX’s stake in SkyBridge will now have to go through the bankruptcy court. It’s a potentially lengthy process that SkyBridge will continue with the administrator, Scaramucci told Bloomberg News after the filing. FTX’s creditors will search the company’s books for units, contracts, joint ventures or ownership interests with any remaining value to help cover their losses.
“The administrator is going to be inundated with requests from people who have claims to FTX,” Greg Kidd, co-founder of venture fund Hard Yaka, a small-cap investor in FTX US, said in an interview. “And that includes people who have been beneficiaries of FTX investments. But you can’t skip the line. Scaramucci may try to buy his stake back in bankruptcy court. There will be a process and it can be outbid.”
Just two months ago, FTX said it was acquiring a stake in Scaramucci’s firm, which manages about $2.2 billion and invests in both hedge funds and digital assets. FTX Ventures provided SkyBridge with cash to fund growth and launch new products, as well as to purchase cryptocurrencies that SkyBridge will hold on its balance sheet.
On Tuesday, the SkyBridge founder flew to the Bahamas in an effort to help Bankman-Fried, he told CNBC.
“The initial idea was that this is a financial bailout situation and can we help in some way,” Scaramucci said. On arrival, however, it became clear “at least from some of the people who were working on the legal team and the compliance team that maybe there was more going on than just a rescue situation.” Scaramucci left that afternoon upset, he said.
Scaramucci said he was hesitant to call what he saw a scam “because that’s a legal term,” but he asked Bankman-Fried to tell investors the truth and explain what happened to regulators. “And if there was fraud, let’s clean it up as much as possible,” he said.
Scaramucci said his firm had to reduce some of its holdings given the rapid decline in cryptocurrencies. There was exposure to FTX’s FTT tokens, he said, and it took a “loss” from that.
In a September statement revealing the FTX deal, Scaramucci, 58, described Bankman-Fried, 30, as “a visionary who has built incredible businesses that are synergistic with the future of SkyBridge.” Bankman-Fried said FTX, which has sponsored SkyBridge’s annual SALT conference, will collaborate with Scaramucci’s firm on crypto- and non-crypto investments.
A few months earlier, SkyBridge halted buybacks in its Legion Strategies Fund — one of its smaller offerings — after a sharp decline in stocks and cryptocurrencies, leaving its exposure to private companies at 20%. FTX was among the fund’s private investments.
The crisis surrounding FTX grew this week, shaking the entire crypto market, with rival Binance Holdings Ltd. agreed to a hastily arranged rescue only to back out a day later. US authorities are investigating FTX.
Scaramucci told CNBC he felt “disappointed” and “betrayed” by the collapse of Bankman-Fried’s crypto empire, calling it the worst week in cryptocurrency history.
–With help from Vildana Hajric.
(Updates with FTX bankruptcy, Scaramucci’s comments starting in the first paragraph.)
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