While the blizzard of headlines in recent days has focused on what happens to Silicon Valley Bank’s banking customers following the company’s rapid descent, there’s another major question lingering: What happens to SVB’s other businesses?
Silicon Valley Bank, part of SVB Financial Group, was a traditional commercial bank offering loans and credit lines to startups. But SVB also had other businesses including a fund-of-funds platform and an investment banking arm (you can read more about the venture capital business here). These two businesses are separate divisions of SVB Financial group and not necessarily impacted by the bank run on Silicon Valley Bank. Now they’re seeking a buyer.
All of this comes as Silicon Valley Bank is also trying to get sold. The FDIC kicked off an auction process for Silicon Valley Bank on Saturday, March 11 with final bids due Sunday, March 12, Bloomberg reported. Though presumably the government would have liked to find one buyer for everything, that didn’t happen over the weekend. Several venture capital firms have been in talks to preserve parts of SVB so that it can continue lending, the Financial Times reported late Monday. Firms involved in the discussions include General Catalyst, Andreessen Horowitz and Khosla Ventures, the story said.
Last week, the California Department of Financial Protection and Innovation closed Silicon Valley Bank after investors and depositors withdrew $42 billion in deposits. It named the FDIC as receiver. The Nasdaq, which treats an FDIC receivership as the functional equivalent to a bankruptcy, halted SVB’s stock on Friday.
On Monday, the FDIC transferred all deposits, including insured and insured, of Silicon Valley Bank to an FDIC-operated bridge bank. Similarly, the New York State Department of Financial Services shut down Signature Bank on Sunday, March 12, and appointed the FDIC as receiver. The FDIC transferred all deposits of Signature, and nearly all of its assets, to Signature Bridge Bank, which the FDIC will operate as it tries to sell the bank. Creating a bridge bank “allows people to settle down and catch their breath,” and let the regulator resolve the two banks in a thoughtful manner, the person said.
While federal regulators announced plans on Sunday to backstop deposits at Silicon Valley Bank and Signature, figuring out what to do with the rest of SVB’s holdings is no easy task. The board of SVB Financial Group named a restructuring committee on Monday to explore strategic alternatives for the holding company, and SVB Capital and SVB Securities businesses, as well as other assets and investments, according to a statement. The committee includes five independent directors.
JPMorgan and Morgan Stanley are potentially interested in buying SVB Financial, the holding company, Axios reported. (JPMorgan declined comment. Morgan Stanley did not immediately return messages for comment.)
SVB Capital, which manages more than $9.5 billion of funds for third party LPs, is the venture capital and credit investment arm of SVB Financial Group, according to the firm’s most recent annual report. SVB has LP stakes in VC funds like Sequoia Capital, Kleiner Perkins and Bessemer Venture Partners, the SVB Capital website said. Natural buyers of SVB Capital include StepStone Group, a private markets firm, and investment manager Neuberger Berman. StepStone, which is currently investing a $2.6 billion fund to invest in venture capital secondaries, declined comment. Neuberger could not immediately be reached.
There’s also SVB Securities, which provides investment banking services like capital raising and M&A advisory, in healthcare and technology. In 2019, SVB completed its $280 million buy of Leerink, the healthcare and life sciences IB. It’s unclear how much of the Leerink team is left at SBV. “There’s nothing to buy there other than some research and product,” one banker said. Jeff Leerink, the former chairman and CEO of Leerink and current head of SVB Securities, is seeking help to finance a potential management buyout of the investment bank, Bloomberg reported.
Big banks are staying away from Silicon Valley Bank because there’s “too much bad debt exposure to the VC world,” Fortune has reported. It’s also a very short time period for banks to conduct diligence on such a lighting-rod group of assets. Still, SVB Capital will likely draw interest but whether it finds a home is unclear.
The restructuring committee will also explore “all alternatives” to address the roughly $3 billion of funded debt held by the holding company that isn’t guaranteed by the subsidiaries. Calls to SVB for comment were not returned. We’ll soon find out whether calls from SVB to potential buyers got any traction.
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