A leaked investor call from Morgan Creek Digital suggests BlockFi liquidated 3AC for $1 billion, while Celsius reportedly maintained a highly risky assets-to-equity ratio last year that may have caused its recent liquidity woes.
It’s been another day of watching the ripples of contagion spread through the crypto market.
With Three Arrows Capital being ordered into liquidation by a British court, details have also emerged today of BlockFi liquidating a $1B loan to 3AC, and the fallout from the insolvency was partly to blame for lending firm and market maker Genesis Trading facing losses of “a few hundred million dollars."
Withdrawals remain suspended at the possibly insolvent lending and borrowing platform Celsius, which was revealed to have had a highly risky 19 to 1 assets-to-equity ratio before it ran into liquidity troubles this year.
Celsius’ risky business
According to documents reviewed and reported on by the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) on June 29, Celsius was operating on very fine and risky margins as it ballooned in value over 2021.
According to documents prepared before the last equity raise, Celsius, which claimed to be a less risky alternative to a bank, had an assets-to-equity ratio of $19 billion to $1 billion midway through last year, while also issuing out many loans that were undercollateralized.
The assets-to-equity ratio refers to the proportion of a firm’s assets that has been funded by shareholders. The ratio generally represents an indicator of how much debt a firm has leveraged to finance its operations, with higher ratios often suggesting a firm has utilized substantial financing and debt to remain afloat.
The ratios differ from sector to sector, as do the assets held by the specific entities, however Celsius’s already high 19-to-1 ratio is seen as extra risky due to the firm’s exposure to crypto, leverage and lending.
Eric Budish, an crypto-versed economist at the University of Chicago’s business school stated that “It’s just a risky structure,” as he likened Celsius’ operations to that of financial firms in the lead up to the 2008 housing bubble:
“It strikes me as diversified as the same way that portfolios of mortgages were diversified in 2006. It was all housing— here it’s all crypto.“
Reports also surfaced that Voyager Digital has sent more than $174 million to Celsius over the past few months. The transactions were confirmed by analytics platform Nansen this week, however the nature of the funding or whether it is a loan is unclear.
Genesis facing hundreds of millions in losses
Digital Currency Group’s market maker and lending firm Genesis Trading is reportedly facing losses in the hundreds of millions according to sources reported by DCG publication Coin Desk.
The losses relate in part to the company’s exposure to 3AC and the crypto lender Babel Finance. Genesis is putting a brave face on the losses and still has hope of receiving partial repayments, with other losses offset by hedging. CEO Michael Moro said the firm had mitigated losses with “a large counterparty who failed to meet a margin call to us.”
“We sold collateral, hedged our downside, and moved on. Our business continues to operate normally and we are meeting all of our clients' needs."
Battle for BlockFi
A leaked investor call from hedge fund Morgan Creek Digital confirmed the liquidation of a large unnamed client by BlockFi on June 16 was 3AC.
During the call, Morgan Creek’s managing partner Mark Yusko and co-founder Anthony “Pomp” Pompliano stated that BlockFi had “reported” to the firm the loan was worth $1 billion and overcollateralized by 30%.
Pomp went on to state that roughly two-thirds of $1.33 billion collateralization was in Bitcoin (BTC) and was immediately liquidated once 3AC was unable to make repayments. The other third was said to be in Grayscale Bitcoin Trust (GBTC) shares worth around $400 million.
Grayscale’s BTC trust is designed to be pegged to the spot value of BTC, however it often trades for either a premium or a discount.
According to Pomp, BlockFi ran into troubles liquidating the position as the GBTC discount dropped to around 34%, and the price went down as the firm went to sell the holdings.
With FTX reportedly planning to purchase a stake in BlockFi following the issuance of a $250 million revolving credit facility to the firm, the call also discusses how Morgan Creek was looking to raise $250 million to purchase 51% of the firm. Such a sum would give BlockFi a valuation of just $500 million, well below its reported valuation of $5 billion in June 2021.