Silicon Valley Bank (SVB), a financial institution that focused primarily on investing in tech start-ups, has been taken over and shut down by federal regulators in one of biggest financial failures in history, and the biggest since the Global Financial Crisis over a decade ago.
The collapse of the bank comes as the tech industry has lost a lot of profitability in recent months. Major tech firms are slashing jobs, and new start-ups are dwindling.
The stunning downfall of the bank, once a darling of the financial world, comes after it raced to find a buyer following a major reported loss, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Once a darling of the banking business, Silicon Valley Bank collapsed at warp speed after it announced a big loss on its bondholdings and plans to shore up its balance sheet, tanking its stock and sparking widespread customer withdrawals.
The bank’s parent company, SVB Financial Group, was racing to find a buyer after scrapping a planned $2.25 billion share sale Friday morning. Regulators weren’t willing to wait. The California Department of Financial Protection and Innovation closed the bank Friday within hours and put it under the control of the FDIC.
SVB, based in Santa Clara, Calif., earlier this week surprised investors by announcing that it lost nearly $2 billion selling assets following a larger-than-expected decline in deposits. The stock has lost more than 80% since then, and tech clients rushed to pull their deposits over concerns about the bank’s health.
Despite a strong jobs report Friday morning, the carryover from the sudden panic on Wall Street Thursday dragged the markets down. The four largest U.S. banks lost roughly $52 billion in value Thursday. “Bank stocks continue to plunge Friday morning, with a number halted for volatility,” the WSJ also reported.
After its major financial losses, SVB tried and failed to find a buyer, according to CNBC. Shares of its parent company, SVB Financial, fell by 60 percent on Thursday, which led to the aforementioned loss in market value in other institutions.
The FDIC takeover of SBV leaves several unanswered questions for investors and account holders. At the end of 2022, SVB had approximately $209 billion in total assets, with about $175.4 billion in total deposits. According to the FDIC, it’s currently unclear how many of those deposits were above their insurance limit of $250,000 per depositor.
However, unlike previous financial failures, this one could be limited in its impact on the larger financial sector. SVB specialized almost exclusively on tech investments. Banks with diversified holdings are not seeing the collapse that those with limited holdings are. The FDIC takeover also means there is likely not going to be a run on banks, as was initially feared in news reports. Wall Street analysts previously indicated as much, and Morgan Stanley told its clients that SVB’s issues are “highly idiosyncratic.”
Part of SVB’s collapse ties into the American economy and inflation concerns. The Federal Reserve’s aggressive rate hikes hit the tech sector particularly hard, and all told, the value of SVB’s bondholdings was dented. Because of these and other issues, deposits were on the decline, which led the bank to sell almost all of its available securities.