First Citizens Bank & Trust Co will buy all of Silicon Valley Bank’s deposits and loans from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), the regulator said in a statement.

The startup-focused lender SVB Financial Group on March 10 became the largest bank to fail since the 2008 financial crisis, in a collapse that roiled global markets

What is Silicon Valley Bank?

businessline earlier reported an explainer What led to SVB failure and its impact on India.

Rated as the 16th largest bank in the United States until the crash, Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) is a regional bank in the US, headquartered in Santa Clara, California.

Incorporated in 1983, SVB was reckoned as quite trendsetting because it was among the early banks to set focus on start-ups and venture capitalists. In December 2022, 56 per cent of its loans were to VCs and PEs secured by their limited partners. SVB is held by SVB Financial Group, which has operations beyond the US across ten countries, including India.

Also read: SVB Securities Management exploring buying firm back

How did it fail?

The fall of SVB is rather unique because it’s a case of asset liability management (ALM) mismatch concerns, which manifested into solvency issues for the bank. From the end of 2019 to March 2022, the bank’s deposits more than tripled to $198 billion; growth outstripped the industry average of 37 per cent.

But hit by Covid, the deployment opportunities for funds were quite limited. Hence, deposits were channelised towards investments where there are two types of instruments – shorter duration investments classified as available for sale (AFS) and longer duration instruments classified as held to maturity.

Meanwhile, the cost of deposits for SVB rose to 1.19 per cent against the industry payout of 0.04 per cent by end of 2022. Hence, to manage the yields and mark-to-market (MTM) losses, the bank chose to have a higher proportion of HTM instruments vis-à-vis AFS, something which banks across the globe, including India, are opting for.

What caused the debacle was that much of the HTM was deployed into mortgage-backed securities and when interest rates started increasing, it hurt the yield significantly, and the unrealised losses from the book shot to $16 billion (from 0) by September 2022.

As against the equity base of over $11 billion that quarter, the losses technically drove the bank to insolvency that quarter. Alongside this, depositors were also pulling out money for better deployment as rates started moving up; something that the US hadn’t seen in decades.

In December, the SVB revealed its plans to sell part of its AFS portfolio and raise capital. While the former went through and helped garner $21 billion, Silvergate Capital’s voluntary insolvency announcement on March 9 made it impossible for SVB to tap the market and the run on the bank became inevitable.

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