Japan's Monex May Buy Cryptocurrency Exchange Coincheck

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TOKYO (Reuters) - Japanese online broker Monex Group Inc <8698.T> said on Tuesday it is considering buying Coincheck Inc, the local cryptocurrency exchange hit by a high-profile $530 million theft earlier this year.

The company did not provide any details but the Nikkei daily on Tuesday said the deal could be worth "several billion yen" and an announcement was likely this week.

Coincheck representatives said in an email that the Nikkei report was not something the company had announced.

The deal would allow Monex to access Coincheck's customer base, which saw a spurt in users as the cryptocurrency sector grew rapidly last year. With this, the broker will join other online securities brokerages such as GMO Internet Inc <9449.T> and Money Partners Group <8732.T>.

Monex shares surged 23 percent by the daily limit to 424 yen in Tokyo.

Coincheck's Chief Executive Koichiro Wada and another executive will be replaced, the Nikkei reported, adding that Coincheck and Monex have already charted the plan out to regulators and major investors.

Coincheck, which in January suffered one of the biggest digital money heists ever, was asked by the Financial Services Agency to improve risk management and prevent further criminal use of digital money.

The Coincheck heist underscored the risks faced by policymakers in regulating cryptocurrency trading and had rattled Japan, which became the first country to regulate the cryptocurrency industry by requiring all exchanges to register with the authorities.

(Reporting by Taiga Uranaka and Minami Funakoshi, Editing by Chang-Ran Kim and Sherry Jacob-Phillips)

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