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Matt Levine

FTX’s Balance Sheet Was Bad

Serum, customer money, etc.; plus Elon Musk’s Twitter debt and anti-ESG antitrust.
November 14, 2022, 6:09 PM UTC
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Matt Levine is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering finance. He was an editor of Dealbreaker, an investment banker at Goldman Sachs, a mergers and acquisitions lawyer at Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, and a clerk for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit. @matt_levine
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There is so much, but I want to start with Serum.
If a troubled company has a few days to beg potential investors for a bailout before it files for bankruptcy, and it sends those investors its balance sheet so they can consider investing, and they all pass, and then the company files for bankruptcy, of course the balance sheet was bad. That is not a state of affairs that is consistent with a pristine fortress balance sheet.
But there is a range of possible badness, even in bankruptcy, and the balance sheet that Sam Bankman-Fried’s failed crypto exchange sent to potential investors last week before filing for bankruptcy on Friday is very bad. It’s an Excel file full of the howling of ghosts and the shrieking of tortured souls. If you look too long at that spreadsheet, you will go insane. Antoine Gara, Kadhim Shubber and Joshua Oliver at the Financial Times reported on Saturday: