HSBC acquires Silicon Valley Bank UK in last-minute deal, says all depositors’ money is safe
HSBC UK is acquiring Silicon Valley Bank UK for a symbolic £1. The deal comes after a tense weekend of frantic negotiations by the U.K. government, regulators and a suite of other potential suitors in the wake of the U.K. business, a subsidiary of the troubled U.S. entity, entering insolvency procedures on Friday.
The deal is a massive relief to the U.K. technology sector, which was highly exposed to the collapse of both SVB and its U.K. arm. The quick turnaround of the deal will be seen as a signal of the government’s support of tech, and overall confidence in the financial system.
HSBC said the transaction “completes immediately.” The acquisition will be funded from existing resources. The bank added in a statement:
“As at 10 March 2023, SVB UK had loans of around £5.5 billion and deposits of around £6.7 billion. For the financial year ending 31 December 2022, SVB UK recorded a profit before tax of £88 million. SVB UK’s tangible equity is expected to be around £1.4 billion. Final calculation of the gain arising from the acquisition will be provided in due course.”
The Bank of England said all depositors’ money with SVB UK is safe, with the deal ensuring the continuity of banking services.
It means SVB UK will not now be put into insolvency.
U.K. Chancellor Jeremy Hunt said: “This morning, the Government and the Bank of England facilitated a private sale of Silicon Valley Bank UK to HSBC. Deposits will be protected, with no taxpayer support.
This morning, the Government and the Bank of England facilitated a private sale of Silicon Valley Bank UK to HSBC
Deposits will be protected, with no taxpayer support
I said yesterday that we would look after our tech sector, and we have worked urgently to deliver that promise
— Jeremy Hunt (@Jeremy_Hunt) March 13, 2023
More from Hunt and the government here. In a statement, the Bank of England said:
“SVB UK’s business will continue to be operated normally by SVB UK. All services will continue to operate as normal and customers should not notice any changes.
Customers can continue to contact SVB UK through the usual channels and borrowers should make any loan repayments to SVB UK as normal. SVB UK staff remain employed by SVB UK, and SVB UK continues to be a PRA/FCA authorised bank.
Today’s announcement supersedes the Bank’s 10 March statement that, absent any meaningful further information, it intended to apply to the Court to place SVBUK into a Bank Insolvency Procedure. Given the emergence of a credible purchaser for SVBUK the Bank has determined that using its resolution powers for stabilising failing banks is appropriate.
No other UK banks are directly materially affected by these actions, or by the resolution of SVBUK’s US parent bank. The wider UK banking system remains safe, sound, and well capitalised.”
Noel Quinn, HSBC Group CEO, welcomed Silicon Valley Bank UK customers in a statement, saying they could continue to bank as usual:
“This acquisition makes excellent strategic sense for our business in the UK. It strengthens our commercial banking franchise and enhances our ability to serve innovative and fast-growing firms, including in the technology and life-science sectors, in the UK and internationally.
We welcome SVB UK’s customers to HSBC and look forward to helping them grow in the UK and around the world. SVB UK customers can continue to bank as usual, safe in the knowledge that their deposits are backed by the strength, safety and security of HSBC. We warmly welcome SVB UK colleagues to HSBC, we are excited to start working with them.”
Dom Hallas, Executive Director of Coadec, the UK non-profit that lobbies government on behalf of tech startups, said: “The Government deserves huge credit. From the very top, to HM Treasury who understood the challenge and gripped it, to the huge number of civil servants who have likely not slept since Friday. They have saved hundreds of the UK’s most innovative companies today.”
The sale means the UK will avoid having to introduce the system-wide support that the U.S. Treasury as been forced to introduce in order to protect depositors. And since a bank has stepped in to rescue another bank, it also reduces the so-called “moral hazard” risk where failed banks and depositors assume the exit is to get bailed out by the government.
More to come.
I’m a journalist who specializes in investigative reporting and writing. I have written for the New York Times and other publications.