HSBC buys Silicon Valley Bank UK, secures deposits

The Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) logo is visible through a rain-shrouded window.

Justin Sullivan | Getty Images News | Good pictures

LONDON – HSBC on Monday announced a deal to buy the UK subsidiary of US tech startup lender Silicon Valley Bank, which collapsed on Friday.

HSBC confirmed that its UK ring-fenced subsidiary HSBC UK Bank has agreed to buy SVB UK for £1 ($1.21). The assets and liabilities of SVB UK’s parent company are excluded from the transaction.

HSBC Group CEO Noel Quinn said the acquisition “strengthens our commercial banking franchise and enhances our ability to serve innovative and fast-growing companies, including in the technology and life sciences sectors, both in the UK and internationally.”

The sale, facilitated by the Bank of England in consultation with the UK Treasury, will protect the deposits of SVB UK customers, the Treasury said in a statement.

British finance minister Jeremy Hunt insisted the deal “ensures that customers’ deposits are protected and that they can bank normally, without taxpayer support”.

“The UK’s technology sector is truly world-leading and hugely important to the British economy, supporting hundreds of thousands of jobs,” he added.

Hunt had said on Sunday that UK management and the Bank of England were working to “avoid or minimize” potential damage as a result of SVB’s UK branch.

In parallel, US regulators on Sunday approved plans to backstop depositors and financial institutions linked to US parent SVB.

Several buyers have submitted proposals to buy SVB UK since its American parent company failed on Friday, amid widespread concern about the immediate future of several British tech and life sciences startups.

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A consortium of private equity firms led by the Bank of London has submitted a formal proposal to the UK Treasury and the Prudential Regulation Authority at the Bank of England.

Bank of London chief executive Anthony Watson said SVB “cannot afford to fail in terms of the core community it serves”.

“This is a unique opportunity to ensure a diversified banking sector in the UK, while allowing continuity of service for SVB’s UK client base. It is very disappointing at this juncture to further consolidate power among the big banks.”

The Bank of England confirmed that no other UK banks were “directly affected by these actions or the decision by SVBUK’s US parent bank”, and that the wider British banking system remained “safe, sound and well capitalised”.

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