Working to address SVB collapse, but not looking at bailout: Yellen - GulfToday

Working to address SVB collapse, but not looking at bailout: Yellen


Janet Yellen. File

US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on Sunday said she was working closely with banking regulators to respond to the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank and protect depositors, but said a major bailout was not being considered.

“Let me be clear that during the financial crisis, there were investors and owners of systemic large banks that were bailed out...and the reforms that have been put in place means we are not going to do that again,” Yellen told the CBS News Sunday Morning show.

“But we are concerned about depositors and are focused on trying to meet their needs,” Yellen said.

Separately, British finance minister Jeremy Hunt said on Sunday he was working with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Bank of England Governor Andrew Bailey to “avoid or minimise damage” resulting from the chaos engulfing the UK arm of Silicon Valley Bank.

Employees walk in front of a sign outside of the shuttered Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) headquarters in Santa Clara, California. Silicon Valley Bank was shut down on Friday morning by California regulators and was put in control of the US Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. Agence France-Presse

Friday’s dramatic failure of the US bank svb Financial Group, which focuses on tech startups, was the biggest in the U.S. since the 2008 financial crisis.

Given the importance of the bank to some customers, its collapse could have a significant impact on British technology companies, Hunt said.

“We’ve been working at pace over the weekend, through the night,” Hunt told Sky News. “We will bring forward very soon plans to make sure people are able to meet their cashflow requirements to pay their staff.”

Hunt said efforts are focused on finding a “longer-term solution that minimises, or even avoids completely, losses to some of our most promising companies.”

Advisory firm Rothschild & Co is exploring options for the UK arm, called Silicon Valley Bank UK Limited, as insolvency looms, two people familiar with the discussions told Reuters on Saturday. The BoE has said that it is seeking a court order to place the UK arm into an insolvency procedure.

Lenders including Barclays PLC and Lloyds Banking Group are among parties to have been approached by the board of svb UK over the weekend to see if an emergency takeover deal can be reached, Sky News reported on Sunday.

Bank of London, a clearing bank, is weighing whether an offer is possible, a person with knowledge of the discussions told Reuters.

svb Group declined a Reuters request for comment while Barclays and Lloyds Banking did not immediately respond.  Israeli shares slid: Israeli shares slid more than 2.5% lower on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange (TASE) on Sunday led by financial firms following the failure of svb Financial Group late last week, while the government vowed to help Israeli tech firms affected.

With Israel’s trading week running Sunday through Thursday, it was the first opportunity for Tel Aviv investors to react to the failure of Silicon Valley Bank, the largest bank to fail since the 2008 financial crisis but largely seen as an isolated event.

Banking regulator Yair Avidan said the svb failure was an unfortunate opportunity to stress what is often taken for granted - ensuring the stability of the financial system.

“We are closely examining the case and following the developments, both immediate and those that may come in the ‘next waves’,” said Avidan, the Bank of Israel’s Supervisor of Banks.

He said he was taking part in an inter-ministerial team established by Finance Ministry to monitor, analyze and formulate a response as needed.

Israel’s tech sector is the country’s main growth engine and its relationship with the Silicon Valley region is strong. Many Israeli startups had accounts at svb although the amounts are not fully known.

Compugen Ltd said that through its US subsidiary it currently held about 1.3% of its cash and cash equivalents with svb, but “considers its exposure to any liquidity concern at svb as immaterial.”

NextVision, a maker of micro stabilised cameras, said in a regulatory filing in Tel Aviv that it withdrew on Thursday almost all of the $2.7 million it held in svb.

Qualitau Ltd, a developer of test equipment to the semi-conductor industry, said it had nearly $17 million at svb and most of that was not federally insured.

It added it had “no information regarding the amounts of money it will be able to withdraw in the future from the balance of funds deposited in svb and in relation to the timing when it will be possible to withdraw these funds.”

Qualitau added that given an existing backlog of orders, it was able to continue activities.

The Tel Aviv index of the five largest banks was down 2.8% in afternoon trading, while the index of eight insurers fell 4.5%. Government bond prices rose as much as 1.5%.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he would discuss the scope of the crisis with his finance and economy ministers and the Bank of Israel governor to see “if there are any necessary actions to help Israeli companies that have fallen into distress, especially liquidity distress, following the collapse of svb.”

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