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Kevin O'Leary-backed WonderFi buying Canadian crypto exchange Bitbuy

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SHARK TANK - 1308  Holiday cheer heads into the Tank when an entrepreneur from Charlotte, North Carolina, shows how her hobby turned lucrative business is committed to bringing smiles into every home with her magical designs. A family of entrepreneurs from Milford, Connecticut, return to the Tank for another shot at a deal with a product designed to keep your most precious ornaments safe and secure during the holiday season. An Elf from Chicago, Illinois, hopes to spread joy through his personalized digital business; while a husband-and-wife duo from Wallingford, Connecticut, are committed to making spirits bright with their magical product aimed at helping children communicate with the North Pole, on a special holiday episode of Shark Tank airing FRIDAY, DEC. 10 (8:00-9:01 p.m. EST), on ABC. (Christopher Willard/ABC via Getty Images)
KEVIN O'LEARY
Shark Tank personality and investor Kevin O'Leary has become a bitcoin advocate (Getty Images)

WonderFi (WNDR.NE) is buying the parent company of Canadian cryptocurrency exchange Bitbuy, for around $206 million in cash and stock, according to a joint announcement by the companies Tuesday.

The deal between WonderFi Technologies and First Ledger Corp., promises to create a unified platform for users to buy cryptocurrencies like bitcoin and ethereum and give access to decentralized finance (DeFi).

DeFi platform WonderFi's name is a nod to investor and strategic advisor Shark Tank investor Kevin O'Leary, who nicknamed himself Mr. Wonderful in his days hosting business news programs in Canada.

"This is a combination of two management teams with excellent executional skills that now have the bandwidth, assets and licenses to provide an institutional grade compliant crypto platform to investors interested in exposure to centralized and decentralized financial services," said O'Leary in a release.

O'Leary previously called bitcoin "garbage" but told Yahoo Finance Live in May 2021 that he's changed his mind and has become a cryptocurrency advocate who holds bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. He recently said cryptocurrencies have ballooned to 10 per cent of his portfolio.

Bitbuy has grown to become Canada's leading crypto marketplace after it was founded in 2016. It became Canada's first approved crypto marketplace in November 2021.

The deal gives Vancouver-based WonderFi access to Bitbuy's more than 375,000 Canadian clients, with more than $4.4 billion transacted through the platform. In the 12 months ended September 30, 2021, Bitbuy generated over $31 million in revenue.

"A licensed marketplace serves as a crucial gateway to the digital asset economy, and facilitates a robust end-to-end, unified client experience," said WonderFi CEO Ben Samaroo in a release.

"The integration of Bitbuy's product suite will accelerate and expand the reach and scope that WonderFi can offer to the market, and will drive long-term growth and value."

WonderFi trades on the NEO exchange and was up around 11 per cent on the news in early trading.

The acquisition is expected to close in the first quarter of 2022.

Jessy Bains is a senior reporter at Yahoo Finance Canada. Follow him on Twitter @jessysbains.

Download the Yahoo Finance app, available for Apple and Android.

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