Crypto lender Amber scraps bonuses, cuts jobs as turmoil from FTX collapse continues

(Bloomberg) — Amber Group, one of Asia’s largest digital currency lending and trading platforms, has canceled this year’s staff bonuses as the former industry darling grapples with the cryptocurrency crisis.

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The Singapore-based company told employees this week that it is eliminating performance-based bonuses for 2022 due to slowing company growth and market uncertainties, in an internal memo viewed by Bloomberg News.

Since June, Amber has embarked on a series of cost-cutting measures, including layoffs and pay cuts. Some members of his management team have voluntarily agreed to forego all or part of their salaries until the market shows clear signs of recovery.

Amber CEO Michael Wu confirmed the cancellation of bonuses and management pay cuts in an interview with Bloomberg, adding that the company will continue to cut costs.

“Even before the FTX crash, we were bracing ourselves for a potentially protracted crypto winter,” he said. The company is cutting costs and “unfortunately there will be no bonuses this year”.

The company, whose backers include Temasek Holdings Pte and Sequoia China, plans to reduce its workforce to fewer than 400 from a peak of about 1,100 earlier this year, Bloomberg reported last week. It has suspended a $100 million funding round and is terminating an endorsement deal with Chelsea FC, which has been part of a sports-dealing frenzy among cryptocurrencies in recent years.

With the collapse of Sam Bankman-Fried’s cryptocurrency exchange FTX sending shockwaves through the industry, both investors and researchers have focused on Amber’s financial health. The company was founded about five years ago by a group of former finance professionals, including Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Morgan Stanley alumni.

Amber said less than 10% of her trading capital was locked up in FTX, and executives have tried to reassure the public that the company’s day-to-day operations have not been disrupted.

At its peak, Amber hired hundreds of employees in roles such as coding, operations and product management in mainland China, according to two former employees who were recently fired and asked not to be identified for fear of hurting their future job prospects. . They have signed contracts with mainland entities that are not directly related to Amber’s main Singapore-based entity, they said. During the layoffs, these workers were asked to close their Shenzhen offices and work from home, the former employees said.

Amber says she has no offices in China. While cryptocurrency trading is illegal in China, the ban is not fully enforced, leaving a gray area for some companies with Chinese ancestry to operate.

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