HSBC bought the U.K. arm of Silicon Valley Bank for a symbolic £1 on Monday, in a bid to rescue a major technology start-up lender in the country, as the collapse continued to roil the market, CNBC reported.
The deal, struck after talks continued through Sunday night, excluded the assets and liabilities of SVB U.K.’s parent company and is ring-fenced from the U.S. group.
The transaction “strengthens our commercial banking franchise and enhances our ability to serve innovative and fast-growing firms, including in the technology and life-science sectors, in the U.K. and internationally,” HSBC CEO Noel Quinn said, according to CNBC.
SVB U.K. customers could continue to bank the usual way knowing HSBC’s strength, safety and security would support their deposits, Quinn said.
The Bank of England facilitated the sale after a discussion with the U.K. Treasury, which said the deal is aimed at protecting the deposits of SVB U.K. clients.
“Deposits will be protected, with no taxpayer support,” Jeremy Hunt, Britain's finance minister, tweeted Monday.
“The U.K.’s tech sector is genuinely world-leading and of huge importance to the British economy, supporting hundreds of thousands of jobs,” Hunt said in a separate statement.
Earlier Sunday, Hunt said the British government and the Bank of England were working together to “avoid or minimize” the potential harm resulting from the U.K. arm, CNBC reported.
Although SVB’s U.S. parent was doomed financially, the U.K. arm was in a fair financial position with adequate capital and reasonable profits to show when HSBC bought it, the BBC reported.
SVB U.K. had £5.5 billion in loans and around £6.7 billion in deposits, with £88 million of full-year profit before tax in 2022, as of Friday, HSBC noted in its Monday statement.
The lender estimates SVB U.K.’s tangible equity to be around £1.4 billion but said the final profit calculation from the acquisition will be provided subsequently, according to CNBC.
HSBC’s intervention was more of a preventive measure to stop mass withdrawals from the U.K. business as the news of the U.S. parents spread across the globe, sources from Bank of England told the BBC.
The Bank of England insisted no other U.K. bank had been "materially affected" by SVB's collapse, adding that the banking system remained "safe, sound, and well capitalized,” the BBC reported
U.S. regulators on Sunday approved plans to stop depositors and financial institutions linked with the U.S. parent of SVB.
The U.S. Treasury Department identified both SVB and New York-based Signature Bank, which was shut down Sunday, as systemic risks. The banks were closed to ensure depositors were protected.
Many British companies issued statements about their exposure to SVB U.K. while the rescue deal was being announced – around 40% of biotech companies banked with the lender, Reuters noted.
A host of potential buyers submitted their bid to purchase SVB U.K., including the Bank of London, the wire service reported.
Though SVB U.K. had more than 3,000 business customers, its collapse would have signaled potential risk in a key sector that is important for the U.K.’s economic growth, the BBC noted.
"We were faced with a situation where we could have seen some of our most important companies — our most strategic companies — wiped out, and that would have been extremely dangerous," Hunt told reporters.
However, there was “never a systemic risk to our financial stability in the U.K.,” Hunt told the BBC.