SVB Financial seeks bankruptcy protection - GulfToday

SVB Financial seeks bankruptcy protection


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SVB Financial Group said on Friday it filed for a court-supervised reorganization under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection to seek buyers for its assets, days after its former unit Silicon Valley Bank was taken over by US regulators.

The move to commence bankruptcy proceedings comes as emergency measures to shore up confidence have so far failed to dispel worries about a financial contagion. Shares of big banks fell between 1.5% and 3% in early trading.

Financial stocks have lost over billions of dollars in value since the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank last week, while credit stress has worsened for Wall Street’s biggest banks.

“It is impossible to know if there are other shoes to drop, but I think a good majority of the negative news is out there,” said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at B. Riley Wealth Management.

Californian regulators shuttered Silicon Valley Bank last Friday and appointed the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) as receiver, making it the largest collapse since Washington Mutual went bust during the financial crisis of 2008.

SVB was forced to sell a portfolio of treasuries and mortgage-backed securities to Goldman Sachs at a $1.8 billion loss after a rise in yields eroded value.

To plug that hole, it attempted to raise $2.25 billion in common equity and preferred convertible stock but spooked clients pulled out deposits that led to $42 billion of outflows in a day.

Earlier this week, the company said it was planning to explore strategic alternatives for its businesses including the holding company, SVB Capital and SVB Securities.

SVB Securities and SVB Capital’s funds and general partner entities are not included in the Chapter 11 filing, the company said on Friday, adding it planned to proceed with the process to evaluate alternatives for the businesses, as well its other assets and investments.

Reuters reported on Wednesday that the parent company was exploring seeking bankruptcy protection to sell its assets.

The company said on Friday it has about $2.2 billion of liquidity. It had $209 billion in assets at the end of last year.

European Central Bank supervisors see no contagion for euro zone banks from recent sector turmoil, a source said on Friday, even as rescue deals for Credit Suisse and First Republic Bank failed to arrest pressure on their share prices.

Big U.S. banks swooped on Thursday with a $30 billion lifeline for San Francisco-based First Republic, which has been under scrutiny since the collapse of two other mid-size U.S. banks, and tapped record amounts from the Federal Reserve.

The US rescue package came shortly after embattled Credit Suisse secured an emergency central bank loan of up to $54 billion to shore up its liquidity.

But shares in Switzerland’s second-largest bank fell sharply again on Friday, while Morningstar Direct said Credit Suisse had seen more than $450 million in net outflows from its US and European managed funds from March 13 to 15.

Shares of US regional banks, including PacWest Bancorp and First Republic, also opened lower. The ECB held an ad hoc supervisory board meeting, its second this week, to discuss the stresses and volatility in the banking sector in an unusual move ahead of a scheduled one next week.

But the supervisors were told deposits were stable across the euro zone and its Credit Suisse exposure was immaterial, a source familiar with the meeting’s content told Reuters. An ECB spokesperson declined to comment.

Euro zone banks are still sitting on some 4 trillion euros ($4.25 trillion) worth of excess liquidity, which they are even keen to hand back to the ECB now that borrowing from it has become more expensive, central bank data showed. A German government spokesperson said the current situation with European banks is not comparable to the 2008 financial crisis, adding during a regular news briefing that there is no cause for concern about the country’s banking sector.

Banking stocks globally have been battered since Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) collapsed due to bond-related losses that piled up when interest rates surged last year, raising questions about other weaknesses in the wider financial system.

SVB Financial Group said on Friday it had filed for a court-supervised reorganisation, days after its former banking unit SVB was taken over by US regulators.

While the deals to shore up Credit Suisse and First Republic, alongside action by policymakers, have helped restore some calm, fitful investors are still concerned about the potential for a full-blown banking crisis.

The scale of stress was underscored by data on Thursday showing banks in the U.S. sought record amounts of emergency liquidity from the Fed in recent days, driving up the size of its balance sheet after months of contraction.

The First Republic deal was put together by power brokers including U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, Fed Chairman Jerome Powell and JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon, a source familiar with the situation said.

“They will keep the money in First Republic to keep it alive for self interest ... to stop the run on banks. Then they will take it away gradually and the bank will play out a slow death,” Mathan Somasundaram, founder at research firm Deep Data Analytics in Sydney, said on Friday.

While the support from some of the biggest names in U.S. banking has prevented an imminent collapse, investors were startled by First Republic’s late disclosures on its cash position and just how much emergency liquidity it needed.

“People are concerned that the contagion risk is real, and that rattles confidence,” said Karen Jorritsma, head of Australian equities, RBC Capital Markets.

“I don’t think we are in the crux of a global financial crisis. Balance sheets are much better than they were in 2008, banks are better regulated,” she added.

Credit Suisse became the first major global bank to take up an emergency lifeline since the 2008 financial crisis amid doubts over whether central banks will be able to sustain aggressive rate hikes to rein in inflation.

The ECB pressed forward with a 50 basis point rate hike, arguing that euro zone banks were in good shape and that if anything, higher rates should bolster their margins.

Attention has now shifted to the Fed’s policy decision next week and whether it will stick with its aggressive interest rate hikes as it seeks to get inflation under control.


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