Bithumb, the largest cryptocurrency exchange in South Korea by trading volume, confirmed to CoinDesk Korea on Friday that it sold over 38 percent of its total ownership to a blockchain consortium based in Singapore. BK Global Consortium, led by plastic surgeon and startup investor Kim Byung-gun, paid $352 million to become the largest shareholder in Bithumb.

BTC Holdings Company — Bithumb’s erstwhile majority shareholder with 76 percent stake in the company — agreed to sell 50 percent of its total shares, and one additional share, to BK Global Consortium. As a result, it went from owning 76 percent of Bithumb’s equity to just under 38 percent, a move that made BK Global Consortium the largest shareholder of Bithumb. The acquisition deal valued Bitthumb at over $880 million.

Byung-gun was an early investor in cryptography, was interested in blockchain and also founded an ICO consulting firm in Singapore in August 2017.

“Kim Byung-gun demonstrated his multinational management ability in the field of medical care, fintech, and blockchain in Singapore. He is the right person to pursue the systemization and globalization of the virtual currency exchange," a spokesperson from BK Global Consortium said.

Bithumb plans to promote new businesses based on its global network while maintaining current businesses. Through the business link with Bithumb, the consortium plans to create various aspects such as settlement platform construction and the creation of a cryptographic ecosystem.

"We will maintain our existing business system with the BK consortium and lead the way in promoting new businesses based on a global network and creating a sound cryptographic ecosystem," Bithumb said.

Bithumb South Korea’s largest cryptocurrency exchange Bithumb sold a large stake to a Singapore-based blockchain consortium in a $350 million deal. Here, a man glances though a window at Bithumb virtual currency exchange in Seoul, June 20, 2018. Photo: JUNG YEON-JE/AFP/Getty Images

Bithumb was launched in 2013 and soon emerged as South Korea’s largest cryptocurrency exchange. The exchange reported a transactional volume of $968 million Monday in cryptocurrency trading in preceding 24-hour period, according to CoinMarketCap, making it the world’s second-largest cryptocurrency exchange. The platform trades 53 cryptocurrency pairs.

The exchanged made $192 million in operating profit in the first half of 2018 and $2.5 billion net income, according to the news agency Yonhap. The platform suffered a major security breach in June that saw around $31 million in cryptocurrencies stolen. A few days after the theft, it was announced about 45 percent of the stolen funds were recovered.

Bithumb had also announced in July it would open offices in Japan and Thailand. According to a news report by CCN, Bithumb was expecting to receive approval from Japan's Financial Services Agency (FSA) and Thai Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Bithumb said it chose Thailand because the ecommerce and fintech industry was extremely active in the country, and that Thai regulators understand and welcomed cryptocurrencies in order to promote “smart city business.”