After the FTX cryptocurrency exchange filed for bankruptcy last year, Thomas Braziel, an investor who specializes in collapsed businesses, started brokering an unusual kind of transaction: a market to profit from FTX’s downfall.
Mr. Braziel put one of his clients in touch with a large financial firm that had lost nearly $100 million when FTX went under. Last December, the firm agreed to sell its claim in the FTX bankruptcy — essentially an i.o.u. from the collapsed exchange — for 6 cents on the dollar, betting that it was better to collect some fast cash than wait years for the husk of FTX to start paying creditors back.
Then the market for FTX claims exploded. Mr. Braziel recently brokered the sale of a $19 million FTX claim for 68 cents on the dollar, collecting a nearly $100,000 commission, he said. Some claims are selling for more than 70 cents, as investors grow optimistic that FTX’s new leadership will recover a sizable portion of the roughly $8 billion that the founder, Sam Bankman-Fried, was convicted of stealing from customers.
“The market is insane,” said Mr. Braziel, a partner at the investment firm 117 Partners. “It’s so hot.”
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