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MicroStrategy scotches 'margin call' fears, says can withstand volatility

FILE PHOTO: An illustration picture of a stock graph with a representation of bitcoin

By Tom Westbrook

(Reuters) -U.S. software developer MicroStrategy Inc said it has not received a margin call against a bitcoin-backed loan and can withstand further volatility, soothing market jitters after the token's slide raised fears of asset liquidation.

MicroStrategy, an aggressive investor in the highly volatile cryptocurrency bitcoin, borrowed $205 million from crypto bank Silvergate Capital Corp in March, with the three-year loan mostly secured against some 19,466 bitcoins.

Should the price of bitcoins drop below about $21,000, that would trigger a "margin call" or demand for extra capital, MicroStrategy President Phong Le said in a webcast in May.

Bitcoin fell below that level to $20,816.36 on Tuesday before steadying near $22,000. The company said via email that it had not received a margin call.

Silvergate declined to comment.

MicroStrategy shares rose 6% and Silvergate gained 3% in U.S. trade on Tuesday, following heavy selling on Monday.

Typically a margin call would be met by providing more capital or liquidating the loan's collateral.

"We can always contribute additional bitcoins to maintain the required loan-to-value ratio," MicroStrategy said in a statement emailed late on Tuesday in the United States.

"Even at current prices, we continue to maintain more than sufficient additional unpledged bitcoins to meet our requirements under the loan agreement."

MicroStrategy had also "anticipated volatility and structured its balance sheet so that it could continue to #HODL through adversity," Chief Executive Officer Michael Saylor said in a tweet https://twitter.com/saylor/status/1536695409648836609 on Tuesday, using a deliberate garble of the word "hold" that is a popular mantra among crypto enthusiasts.

The comments provided little relief for cryptocurrency markets roiled by the prospect of rising U.S. interest rates making risky assets less attractive, but analysts downplayed worries the price moves could trigger liquidation.

"We see no circumstance in which MicroStrategy is going to need to sell any of its bitcoin holdings," said Mark Palmer, head of digital asset research at BTIG.

(Reporting by Tom Westbrook in Singapore and Medha Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel and Christopher Cushing)