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Circle confidentially files for IPO following banner year for crypto stocks

A woman holds a smartphone with the USD Coin logo displayed on the screen.

Rafael Henrique | SOPA Images | Lightrocket | Getty Images

Circle, the issuer of the USDC stablecoin, has confidentially filed for an initial public offering with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, a little more than a year after terminating a deal to go public via a special purpose acquisition company.

The public listing is expected to take place once the SEC finishes its review, “subject to market and other conditions,” Circle said in the two-paragraph press release Thursday.

The tech IPO market has been largely dormant for two years after a record year in 2021, as investors turned away from risk due to rising interest rates. However, crypto shares soared last year, producing some of the best gains across the U.S. stock market, bolstered by a 150% jump in the price of bitcoin.

Founded in 2013, Circle is best known as the issuer of USD Coin, the world’s second-biggest U.S. dollar pegged stablecoin, which was launched in 2018. USDC has a market capitalization of more than $25.2 billion. Tether is its biggest stablecoin rival with a collective value of more than $94.6 billion.

Circle had previously planned to go public through a SPAC with Concord Acquisition Corp. in a deal that would have valued the company at about $9 billion. But the SPAC market collapsed in 2022, and Circle ended that agreement in December of that year, just after crypto exchange FTX spiraled into bankruptcy.

The timing of the latest announcement comes amid a groundswell of support for the cryptocurrency sector. Coinbase, which took a stake in Circle in August, jumped almost 400% in value in 2023, and other crypto stocks such as MicroStrategy and bitcoin miner Marathon Digital enjoyed hefty rallies.

On Wednesday, the SEC approved the first spot bitcoin exchange-traded funds, and industry bulls are betting that new retail and institutional investors are poised to jump into the digital asset market.

Bitcoin briefly topped $49,000, reaching levels not seen since December 2021, ahead of trading for ETFs on Thursday. The price of ether surged above $2,600, the highest since May 2022.

CNBC’s Rohan Goswami contributed to this report.

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