Silicon Valley Bank parent company files for bankruptcy


Shares of California’s First Republic Bank plunged more than 30 percent Friday despite a new $30 billion lifeline for the bank, reflecting continuing fears in the market after a week of banking turmoil.

The decline on the New York Stock Exchange reversed a late Thursday rally after the nation’s biggest banks, in coordination with federal officials, announced they would deposit billions in First Republic in an effort to restore confidence. The slide came after the beleaguered bank disclosed additional information about its finances and suspended dividend payments to shareholders.

Silicon Valley Bank’s parent company, meanwhile, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Friday, just a week after the bank collapsed. And shares of troubled Credit Suisse and some regional U.S. banks continued to come under pressure. The Dow Jones industrial average fell by 1.2 percent. The Nasdaq was down by .7 percent, and the S&P 500 fell by 1.1 percent.

The market gyrations extend a week of extreme highs and lows in global banking, showing that markets remain unsettled about the financial system despite several government and private-sector rescue packages in the United States and Switzerland, and repeated statements of confidence by the Western world’s top regulators.

President Biden again endorsed the overall banking system’s stability on Friday, and called for accountability “for those responsible for this mess.” The White House said it’s asking Congress to strengthen the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation’s ability to claw back compensation — including gains from sales of stock — from executives at failed banks, to fine those executives and to ban them from working in the industry.

“No one is above the law,” Biden said in a statement. “Congress must act to impose tougher penalties for senior bank executives whose mismanagement contributed to their institutions failing.”

He added that the federal government’s “decisive action” is helping stabilize the financial system, and pledged again that Americans should feel confident that their deposits are safe.

After Silicon Valley Bank collapse, Washington asks: Is it to blame?

Others echoed that sentiment. “The broad American banking system is safe,” said Aaron Klein, a Brookings Institution economist and a former Treasury Department official who helped craft financial-sector reform after the 2008 crash.

The kind of stock-price gyrations now roiling the banking sector are often driven by short-term traders and not sober analysis of the underlying company’s health, he added.

“The provisions put in place after the ’08 crisis made the system safer,” Klein said. “While public confidence has been shaken people should appreciate that we have a more stable system and that this is not a repeat of 2008.”

The rollercoaster began with a bank run on SVB last week, followed by a federal intervention over the weekend to guarantee the bank’s deposits. Regulators soon after closed New York-based Signature Bank and moved to guarantee its deposits, too. Tensions then shifted to Europe, where Credit Suisse stock plummeted after the 167-year-old giant bank disclosed problems related to its financial reporting, prompting Switzerland’s central bank to offer up to $54 billion in emergency loans. That intervention, along with Thursday’s rescue effort for First Republic, appeared to calm some fears — but Friday trading shows that jitters remain.

Signs of stress coursing through the system were evident in data published Thursday showing a big spike in emergency bank borrowing from the Federal Reserve. Borrowing from the Fed’s discount window, known as the lender of last resort, reached $152.85 billion as of March 15. And banks tapped another $12 billion in loans from a separate Fed program announced this week.

The SVB bankruptcy proceedings involve only the bank’s parent company, SVB Financial Group. The bankruptcy does not include SVB Capital, a venture capital private credit entity, or SVB Securities, a broker-dealer under its own management. And, at present, Silicon Valley Bridge Bank, the bank created in the wake of the federal takeover, is operating independently and isn’t part of the proceedings.

“The Chapter 11 process will allow SVB Financial Group to preserve value as it evaluates strategic alternatives for its prized businesses and assets, especially SVB Capital and SVB Securities,” said William Kosturos, chief restructuring officer for SVB Financial Group.

As the nation’s biggest banks announced their rescue package for First Republic late Thursday, the ailing bank suspended its dividend payments and disclosed that it had borrowed heavily from the Federal Reserve over the preceding week to shore up its finances.

On Friday, bank analysts at Wedbush Securities downgraded the stock. Reports of a possible distressed sale of First Republic to a larger entity would probably benefit the banking system as a whole but could be a bad deal for First Republic shareholders, Wedbush argued.

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