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Hedge funds admit that half of their capital is stuck on the FTX exchange




Galois Capital, a hedge fund whose founder is credited with spotting the collapse of cryptocurrency luna this year, has been caught off guard after nearly half of its assets were left trapped in crypto exchange FTX, which filed for bankruptcy protection on Friday.

Galois co-founder Kevin Zhou wrote to investors in recent days, in a letter seen by the Financial Times, that even if the fund had been able to withdraw some money from the exchange, it still had “about half of our capital stuck in FTX”. Based on Galois’ assets under management as of June, that could amount to around $1[ads1]00 million.

“I am deeply sorry that we find ourselves in this current situation,” Zhou wrote. “We will work tirelessly to maximize our chances of recovering fixed capital in any way.”

He added that it could take “a few years” to recover “some percentage” of the assets.

FTX said on Friday that Sam Bankman-Fried was stepping down as chief executive, after failing in a last-ditch effort to secure a bailout. It follows a turbulent week in which the stock exchange admitted that it was unable to meet its customers’ withdrawal requirements without external funds, raising fears that customers could suffer major losses.

FTX’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing in federal court in Delaware includes FTX’s U.S. unit, Bankman-Fried’s proprietary trading group Alameda Research and about 130 affiliates. His empire was valued at $32 billion just months ago.

Industry insiders say the fact that FTX was used by so many hedge funds and seen as one of the world’s safer crypto trading venues means that many managers could have money tied up in the exchange.

Galois did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Galois is one of the industry’s largest crypto-focused quant funds, and as of this summer managed more than $200 million in assets. A large part of the trading activity is as a market maker, so that it can make small gains on other investors’ trades.

Zhou, who worked at digital exchange Kraken before setting up Galois, is known for his early criticism of cryptocurrency luna and its associated stablecoin terraUSD, before their $40 billion collapse in May.

He said in the letter that his fund had been left with the money in FTX because it had “lots of open positions” that it had to close and because of “underestimated the solvency risk of keeping our funds in FTX”.

He added that if FTX filed for bankruptcy, Galois would become a creditor.

If that happened, then “I would expect that we would recover some percentage of our holdings on FTX within a few years,” he said.

laurence.fletcher@ft.com



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