Crypto investment firm Galaxy Digital (GLXY) is ramping up efforts to move its operations offshore as regulators crack down on the crypto industry in the U.S.
“Companies like ours are looking at how fast we can move people offshore,” said Mike Novogratz, Galaxy Digital’s CEO, at investment bank Piper Sandler’s global exchange and fintech conference on Wednesday.
Galaxy Digital has operations across trading, investment banking advisory services, mining infrastructure and asset management services. The firm first announced its intentions to move operations offshore during its first quarter earnings in May citing a “regulatory headache” in the U.S. This headache has now turned into a migraine as the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filed charges against crypto heavyweights Binance and Coinbase this week.
“There’s not going to be any quick closure on any of this,” Novogratz said. “It makes it very difficult to figure out what you should do.”
Even with the recent introduction of a draft regulatory bill that tackles crypto market structure and the thorny issue of whether a digital asset is a security or commodity, Novogratz isn’t optimistic about the short-term outlook for the U.S. regulatory environment for crypto.
“McHenry and his team get a lot of credit because it’s a thoughtful bill,” Novogratz said, referring to the co-sponsor of the draft legislation. “It’s not going to pass but at least there’s a placeholder down,” he added.
The bill, which was proposed by key House Republicans Patrick McHenry and Glenn Thompson, will need Democratic support for it to pass in the Senate. It was introduced as a means to start a discussion about regulation.
“Certainly in the short run, we’re going to look to move people out of the U.S., overseas, and lots of companies are,” Novogratz said. “My friend Tom Farley of Bullish, who used to run the New York Stock Exchange, is running that playbook right now with that company and so you’re going to lose jobs, you’re going to lose taxpayer money and you’re going to lose the locus of innovation.”
“In the medium run to long run, the U.S. has to be part of the system,” he said, adding that the draft bill from McHenry and Thompson is a good starting point.
Despite this pessimistic view on the regulatory landscape, Novogratz said he is optimistic about his company’s standing in the industry overall.
“We’re the last man standing,” Novogratz said. “We had a lot of competition in the last five years. Genesis, Voyager, BlockFi, Celsius — all gone the way of the Dodo bird and so we have a chance to get a much larger market share in a smaller pond.”
The current market capitalization of the crypto industry is around $1.16 trillion, according to data from Coingecko. Around $30 billion has been shaved off the industry’s market cap since Monday. The SEC named many tokens as securities in the Binance and Coinbase filings but notably left out bitcoin, ether and leading stablecoins.
“They broadly said [ether], bitcoin and stablecoins aren’t securities, otherwise they would have said,” Novogratz said. “I mean he’s getting right down to what he thinks are securities. It would be disingenuous of the chairman to have written those eight names down and not bitcoin, [ether] and USDC if he thought they were securities.”
“Three quarters our industry even in the U.S. is available to play and abroad the other quarter are still a big industry,” Novogratz added. “And so our sales, trading, lending business, we continue to grow, we’re moving more of it offshore.”
Novogratz didn’t provide any details on where the company would move its operations to. The firm, which is headquartered in New York, has offices in Hong Kong, London, Amsterdam, Tokyo and the Cayman Islands as well as several other locations, according to LinkedIn.
Galaxy Digital turned a profit in the first quarter of this year. The Toronto-listed company’s shares dropped 6% on Wednesday. SEC Chairman Gary Gensler will deliver a virtual keynote at the Piper Sandler conference on Thursday.