Silicon Valley bank meltdown rocks financial stocks – BBC News

  • by James Clayton, Peter Hoskins and Annabelle Liang
  • in San Francisco and Singapore

image Source, Getty Images

Shares of Silicon Valley Bank (SVB), a major lender to technology start-ups, fell on Thursday as investors moved to withdraw their deposits.

The decline came a day after the bank announced a $2.25bn (£1.9bn) share sale to help shore up its finances.

Shares of banks worldwide plummeted – with the four biggest US banks including JP Morgan and Wells Fargo losing more than $50bn in market value.

A venture capitalist told the BBC that the events of the day were “wild” and “brutal”.

Shares in Asia also declined on Friday, led by shares of banks.

Shares of SVB saw the biggest one-day drop on record as they fell more than 60% and were down 20% in after-hours trading.

But what is more worrying for the bank is that some start-ups with deposits have been advised to withdraw.

Hannah Chlkowski, founder of Blank Ventures, a fund that invests in fintech, told the BBC the situation was “wild”. She is advising companies in her portfolio to withdraw funds.

“It’s crazy how it’s settled like this… The interesting thing is it’s the most start-up friendly bank and has been so supportive of start-ups through covid. Now VCs are sending their funds to their portfolio companies asking to pull over,” he said.

“It’s cruel,” she said.

An important lender to early-stage businesses, SVB is the banking partner for nearly half of US venture-backed technology and healthcare companies that listed on stock exchanges last year.

The SVB did not immediately respond to a BBC request for further comment.

In the broader market, there were concerns about the value of bonds held by banks as rising interest rates made those bonds less valuable.

Central banks around the world – including the US Federal Reserve and the Bank of England – have sharply raised interest rates as they try to curb inflation.

Banks hold large portfolios of bonds and are sitting on significant potential losses as a result. A decline in the value of bonds held by banks is not necessarily a problem unless they are forced to sell them.

But, if lenders, like Silicon Valley Bank, have to sell their bonds at a loss, this can affect their profits.

Ray Wang, founder and chief executive of the Silicon Valley-based consultancy Constellation Research, told the BBC: “Banks have been hurt by rising interest rates.”

He said, “Nobody at Silicon Valley Bank and many other places thought these interest rate hikes would last. And I think that’s exactly what happened. They made the wrong bet.”

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