First Citizens has agreed to buy a $72 billion chunk of Silicon Valley Bridge Bank, the California lender formerly known as Silicon Valley Bank that was taken over by the FDIC two weeks ago after depositors, in a crisis of confidence, made a run on it. SVB served as the lifeblood to thousands of startups before its collapse, the biggest in U.S. banking in years, sent shockwaves through the financial sector.
Seventeen former branches of Silicon Valley Bank will open as First Citizens Bank later today, the FDIC said.
The U.S. Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation said in a statement that it estimates the failure will cost its Deposit Insurance Fund about $20 billion. It will provide an exact figure when the deal and FDIC receivership conclude.
There is significant money at stake here, but with depositors and confidence continuing to be shaky, it’s taken weeks to get a deal done and each passing day has arguably devalued the assets a little bit. The FDIC has previously run two unsuccessful auction processes for Silicon Valley Bridge Bank, as it had to modify what it was selling, including breaking up the assets.
This deal with First Citizens includes purchase deposits and loans, worth about $72 billion, at a discount of $16.5 billion.
The FDIC noted that as of March 10, Silicon Valley Bridge Bank, National Association, “had approximately $167 billion in total assets and about $119 billion in total deposits.” It also added that around $90 billion in securities and other assets will remain in the receivership for disposition by the FDIC. Part of the deal also gives the FDIC “equity appreciation rights” in First Citizens BancShares, Inc., Raleigh, North Carolina: common stock with a potential value of up to $500 million.
Note that the $90 billion in question here are not the assets of Silicon Valley Bank Financial, which had been the parent/holding company of SVB before it collapsed. That business is in a separate bankruptcy sales process, and it has essentially continued to operate as a going concern throughout the takeover by the FDIC of the deposit and loans business, which was renamed Silicon Valley Bridge Bank and is partly being sold today.
As part of that FDIC’s takeover, the freshly-formed bridge bank’s deposits were not subject to the typical legal limit of $250,000 account, essentially giving depositors unlimited protection. When asked if this changed, in a statement to TechCrunch, the FDIC said that “Deposits are insured up to 250,000 per depositor, per insured bank, for each account ownership category.”
The collapse of Silicon Valley bank rattled the banking industry, especially regional banks, and prompted the FDIC to transfer all SVB deposits into a new “bridge bank” to protect depositors. Shortly afterward, the Federal Reserve provided relief to the bank’s depositors by ensuring they were fully protected. Depositors gained access to all of their money starting March 13.
Before the collapse, Silicon Valley Bank was the 16th largest bank in the U.S. Its abrupt meltdown, which temporarily left thousands of startup founders scrambling to make payrolls and continue business operations, was the largest bank failure in the U.S. since the 2008 financial crisis. The Monday deal follows a similar move at Signature Bank a week ago, which is being acquired by Flagstar.
In a memo sent to staff this morning, SVB Bridge Bank’s CEO Tim Mayopoulos said that the “announcement follows a bidding process that involved substantial interest from multiple employees.” He added, “this is a very positive outcome for SVBB. It keeps the bank together in a way that provides the most value for our customers.” Mayopoulos will be stepping down to be replaced by Frank B. Holding, Jr., chairman and CEO of First Citizens.
“First Citizens has a proud history of growing organically and through strategic acquisitions that build our core capabilities in a careful and deliberate manner,” said Holding, Jr., chairman and CEO of First Citizens, in a statement.
Holding, Jr, whose grandfather started the North Carolina-based lender, has overseen nearly two dozen acquisitions since taking over the top role in 2008. Last year, First Citizens acquired CIT, a lender to mid-sized businesses, for $2 billion.
The acquisition of Silicon Valley Bridge Bank will strengthen First Bank’s ability to serve firms in the private equity, venture capital, and technology sectors, he said.
“Specifically, we are committed to building on and preserving the strong relationships that legacy SVB’s Global Fund Banking business has with private equity and venture capital firms. This transaction also will accelerate our expansion in California and introduce wealth capabilities in the Northeast. SVB’s Private Wealth business is a natural fit for our high-touch and sophisticated level of high-net-worth customer service and approach,” he added.
The failure of Silicon Valley Bank has exposed many of the banking industry’s weaknesses and has led to scrutiny of the Fed’s oversight. Silicon Valley Bank was unusually vulnerable due to its business model: it largely served tech and other fast-scaling startups, who, along with venture investors, deposited tens of billions of dollars during peaks in the funding cycle, but have been struggling to raise new capital since and quickly plowing through their savings. That situation was not helped by how SVB managed its own long-duration bonds in the face of rising interest rates, the sale of which resulted in losses that sparked the collapse in confidence.
Now, its collapse has ushered in another major chapter in finance: it’s leading many to call for a change in how lenders value their assets in financial statements.
The Bank of England said last week that it had warned U.S. regulators over growing risks at Silicon Valley Bank long before its collapse.