Silicon Valley Bank is struggling as venture capital for startups dries up

Silicon Valley Bank is known for serving venture capital firms and the local tech startups those firms have invested in. On Wednesday, the bank announced a lot of bad news. It sold almost all of its securities, worth about $21 billion, losing $1.8 billion as deposits plummeted. The bank said this was because venture capital-funded companies were burning money faster than expected — right when venture capital funding has slowed. To fill the gap in its balance sheet, the bank attempted to sell $2.25 billion worth of new shares. That sale fell through, say Reuters and CNBC.

While the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) insures bank deposits of up to $250,000 even in the event that a bank fails, many corporate clients’ deposits are well beyond that. In its latest annual 10-K filing, Silicon Valley Bank estimated it will have deposits of $173.1 billion by the end of 2022, of which about $165.4 billion, or nearly 96 percent, is uninsured by the state or federal government.

Rising interest rates seem to be the main culprit here. Not only did the interest rate hike slow down VC financing, but startup companies also burned up the money they had in the bank. And higher interest rates meant that when Silicon Valley Bank sold its bond portfolio, those bonds were worth less money.

Issues related to rising interest rates and overall volatility are causing a stir at a number of smaller banks, with shares of San Francisco-based First Republic Capital falling after the parent company also announced an asset sale along with PacWest Bancorp for similar reasons.

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