U.S. bankruptcy judge approves Binance.US $1.3 bln deal for Voyager

March 7 (Reuters) - Bankrupt crypto lender Voyager Digital received court approval on Tuesday to sell its assets and transfer its customers to Binance.US in a deal valued at $1.3 billion, but the company faces additional hurdles before the sale becomes final.

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Michael Wiles approved Voyager's restructuring plan, which is built around the Binance.US acquisition, at a hearing in New York. Binance has agreed to pay $20 million in cash to Voyager, and to take on crypto assets deposited by Voyager customers. The customers' crypto assets, valued at $1.3 billion in February, account for the bulk of the deal's valuation, according to Voyager.

Wiles approved the restructuring plan after overruling the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission's "vague" objection to the Binance acquisition.

SEC attorney William Uptegrove told Wiles at a hearing last week that SEC investigators believe Binance.US is operating an unregistered securities exchange. But Wiles was unpersuaded, saying the agency failed to present any evidence and should not have waited until the last minute to raise a concrete concern.

Wiles approval of Voyager's plan allows it to begin transferring customer accounts to Binance, but Voyager could still walk away from the deal. Its financial advisors said in court on Friday that the company needs up to four weeks to review new questions about Binance.US's commitment to the acquisition, Binance.US's regulatory compliance, and the security of Binance.US customer deposits.

The deal also faces additional scrutiny from the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), which is investigating national security risks associated with foreign investment in Voyager.

Palo Alto-based Binance.US has said it is "fully independent" of its international parent company Binance, which is owned by Chinese-born and Singapore-based Changpeng Zhao.

Once the deal closes and Voyager's customers have Binance.US accounts in place, they will be able to make withdrawals for the first time since Voyager froze their accounts last summer.

Voyager filed for bankruptcy in July, months after the crash of major crypto tokens TerraUSD and Luna sent shockwaves across the digital asset industry.

Voyager estimates the sale will allow customers to recover 73% of the value of their deposits at the time of Voyager's bankruptcy filing.

Reporting by Dietrich Knauth; Editing by Alexia Garamfalvi and Daniel Wallis

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.