FTX estate selling majority stake in AI startup Anthropic for $884 million, with bulk going to UAE

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In this photo illustration, Anthropic logo is seen on a smartphone screen.
Pavlo Gonchar | SOPA Images | Lightrocket | Getty Images

Bankrupt crypto exchange FTX has struck a deal with a consortium of buyers to sell the majority of its stake in artificial intelligence startup Anthropic for $884 million, according to a filing submitted late Friday to a Delaware court.

The document, dated March 22, lists a mix of buyers, with the largest stake going to ATIC Third International Investment Company, an enterprise aligned with Mubadala, a sovereign wealth fund in the United Arab Emirates. That group is purchasing nearly $500 million worth of Anthropic shares.

Multiple sovereign wealth funds were reportedly clamoring for a piece of FTX’s Anthropic stake. Sources told CNBC on Friday that Saudi Arabia was specifically ruled out over national security concerns. The kingdom has been sinking billions of dollars into tech investment funds to try to capture talent from the UAE and to diversify away from oil. 

The second-biggest buyer in the Anthropic transaction is Jane Street, the quantitative trading firm where FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried worked before venturing out on his own. Caroline Ellison, the ex-CEO of FTX’s sister hedge fund Alameda Research, also previously worked at Jane Street. The firm is purchasing shares worth almost $100 million.

Jane Street’s head of quantitative research, Craig Falls, has also proposed to personally buy around $20 million worth of shares.

Venture fund HOF Capital, The Ford Foundation and funds managed by Fidelity Management are others on the list of nearly two-dozen buyers.

The sales are not yet final and must be cleared by Judge John Dorsey, who is overseeing FTX’s bankruptcy case in Delaware. Should it be approved, the sale would collectively account for nearly two-thirds of FTX’s shares in Anthropic.

In November, Bankman-Fried was convicted of seven criminal counts tied to the collapse of FTX. His sentencing is scheduled for Thursday, and prosecutors are recommending a sentence of 40 to 50 years.

Indicted FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried leaves the U.S. Courthouse in New York City, July 26, 2023.
Amr Alfiky | Reuters

Under Bankman-Fried’s leadership, FTX invested $500 million in Anthropic, which was founded by ex-OpenAI employees in 2021, before the generative AI boom. The company’s valuation hit $18 billion in December 2023, which would put FTX’s roughly 8% stake at about $1.4 billion.

For months, the bankruptcy estate has been looking to sell its shares in Anthropic, as it attempts to pay back clients that lost money when FTX collapsed in late 2022. Anthropic raised $7 billion in the last few years from big tech companies like Amazon and Alphabet. Meanwhile, rival OpenAI’s valuation tripled to $80 billion in less than ten months.

Under new CEO John Ray III, FTX has been clawing back cash, luxury property, and crypto, as well as tracking down missing assets. His team has already collected more than $7 billion, not including valuables like $26 million in gifts and property to Bankman-Fried’s parents, or the $700 million handed over to K5 Global and founder Michael Kives, who invested FTX cash in companies like SpaceX. Some of those investments have seen a precipitous rise in value.

Lawyers representing the bankruptcy estate told a judge in Delaware last month that they expect to fully repay customers and creditors with legitimate claims. Bankruptcy attorney Andrew Dietderich, who works with FTX’s new leadership team, said “there is still a great amount of work and risk” ahead in getting all the money back to clients, but that the team has a “strategy to achieve it.”

FTX had been negotiating with bidders about a potential reboot of the company, but those efforts were scrapped in January.

WATCH: FTX to sell shares in Anthropic to pay back customers

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