2TM, the holding company for Mercado Bitcoin, Brazil’s largest crypto exchange by market value, has agreed to acquire a controlling stake in CriptoLoja, Portugal’s first regulated crypto exchange.
The acquisition, which is step one in 2TM’s plans to expand into Europe, still needs approval from Portugal’s Central Bank, 2TM told CoinDesk in a written statement, although the company expects that to occur within the next couple of months.
2TM did not disclose the amount of the transaction nor the exact stake acquired.
Pedro Borges and Luis Gomes, founders of CriptoLoja, will remain in charge of the company while also managing 2TM’s expansion in Europe, the company added.
Portugal is a strategic market for us, because it requires a specific license, is becoming an important hub for crypto in Europe and opens a gateway into the larger European market, 2TM CEO Roberto Dagnoni said in a statement.
2TM will initially offer over-the-counter trading in Portugal, while it plans to include Mercado Bitcoin’s services for retail and institutional clients later.
2TM did not clarify whether CriptoLoja will be renamed Mercado Bitcoin. We are not making any brand or naming announcements yet, a company spokesperson told CoinDesk.
CriptoLoja launched its online crypto trading service in October 2021, Borges told CoinDesk at that time, adding that the crypto exchange allows users to buy 94 cryptocurrencies and trade them for an additional 398 other cryptos.
In June 2021, the Central Bank of Portugal (Banco de Portugal) licensed CriptoLoja as a virtual asset service provider, making it the first crypto company licensed to operate in the country.
2TM is also looking to expand into Latin America through strategic acquisitions in Argentina, Chile, Colombia and Mexico, Dagnoni said in November 2021.
In June 2021, Mercado Bitcoin raised $200 million in a first closing of its Series B funding round, which made the company the second crypto unicorn in Latin America. Five months later, it raised an additional $50.3 million in a second closing.