A Sunday night for Silicon Valley Bank
First Citizens agreed on Sunday night to buy most of Silicon Valley Bank at a discount, clearing the way for the U.S. banking industry to potentially move on from the turmoil set off by the collapse of the tech-focused lender.
The question now is whether markets are close to being convinced that midsize banks are no longer at risk of toppling.
First Citizens will essentially buy Silicon Valley Bank’s retail operations, including the 17 branches, deposits and loans that were put into Silicon Valley Bridge Bank by the F.D.I.C. after the regulator took over the lender earlier this month. When those branches open on Monday, they will do so as locations of First Citizens.
The deal will give First Citizens about $56 billion in deposits, as well as $72 billion in assets at a $16.5 billion discount. It will cost taxpayers, however: The F.D.I.C. expects its deposit insurance fund to take a roughly $20 billion hit, though the regulator will gain equity appreciation rights in First Citizen worth up to $500 million. The two sides will share losses and potential recoveries on Silicon Valley Bank’s commercial loans.
Other parts of Silicon Valley Bank, including $90 billion worth of assets, its investment manager and its wealth management arm, are expected to be sold separately.
First Citizens will now be one of America’s 25 biggest banks. The North Carolina-based lender was ranked 30th at the end of 2022, leading to questions about whether it could digest Silicon Valley Bank. But First Citizens is a specialist in buying broken rivals, acquiring over 20 firms since 2009, including the lender CIT last year.
Will this be enough to restore confidence? Investors still aren’t sure what else the federal authorities will do to help out ailing banks, after several rhetorical U-turns by Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen last week.
As The Wall Street Journal notes, billions of dollars in deposits remain uninsured, while sectors like commercial real estate are under pressure. And issues like the prevalence of social media (which makes it easier for fear and misinformation to spread among depositors) and mobile banking (which makes it easier to pull deposits) haven’t been addressed. Neel Kashkari, the Minnesota Fed’s president, said on Sunday that stress in the banking sector could bring the U.S. closer to recession.
Those are all big concerns as another midsize bank, First Republic, is still weighing options to reverse an outflow of deposits. For now, at least, investors appear to think the First Citizens deal for SVB is a positive for the sector: Shares in First Republic were up as much as 34 percent in premarket trading, while those in two other regional banks, Western Alliance and PacWest were up as well.
HERE’S WHAT’S HAPPENING
Benjamin Netanyahu considers delaying a sweeping judicial overhaul in Israel. Protests erupted in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv on Sunday, forcing the country to shut down outgoing flights from its main airport, after the Israeli prime minister fired his defense minister for criticizing the plan. Union leaders have declared strikes while universities have shut their doors in protest of the firing.
Elliott Management won’t seek a seat on Salesforce’s board. The activist hedge fund said it plans to continue “the productive working relationship” it has formed with the software giant, after the company announced better-than-expected fourth-quarter results this month. That ends the biggest potential challenge facing Salesforce, though it still has a half-dozen activist investors in its stock.
Democrats continue to split over TikTok’s future. Senator Mark Warner of Virginia expressed optimism that Congress would pass legislation giving the White House power to ban the Chinese-owned video app. But Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York became the latest progressive to question such a move: “Do I believe TikTok should be banned? No,” she said in her first post on the platform.
Alibaba’s co-founder reappears in China. Jack Ma, who had largely disappeared from public view after criticizing Chinese regulators in 2020, visited a school he had founded in Hangzhou on Monday. His appearance after about a year of self-exile abroad comes as Beijing tries to portray China as a hospitable place for entrepreneurs after a sweeping crackdown on the tech sector.
Europe’s lenders bounce back
European banks rebounded sharply on Monday morning as investors seemed more reassured about the health of the eurozone’s lenders following the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank and the emergency sale of Credit Suisse to its Swiss rival UBS.
Deutsche Bank recouped some losses, gaining as much as 4 percent in early trading. On Friday, the German banking giant tumbled nearly 9 percent as investors grew jittery about the prospect of contagion in Europe — a fear dismissed as “irrational” by analysts at Citigroup. Germany’s chancellor, Olaf Scholz, and European policymakers also tried to extinguish investor and depositor concerns, asserting that the lender had “fundamentally modernized and reorganized its business” to move beyond its earlier problems.
At 7 a.m. Eastern, the STOXX Europe 600 banks index was up roughly 1.5 percent, with BNP Paribas, HSBC and Unicredit in the green.
Another hopeful sign: Investor message boards are quiet on Monday. Last week, as Deutsche Bank’s credit default swaps soared — viewed as a signal of instability — commentators piled onto investor forums to share their pessimistic predictions about the lender. The chatter had echoes of the dark cloud cast over Credit Suisse last autumn by meme-stock enthusiasts.
Ivan Cosovic, founder of Breakout Point, which measures social media chatter about stocks, told DealBook that the volume of discussion about Deutsche Bank on the Reddit forum WallStreetBets hit a record on Thursday and Friday. “This time around wsb-ers and co were not bullish or trying to buy the plunge,” he said via email, referring to WallStreetBets users.
Here’s what else is happening:
Ammar al-Khudairy, the chairman of Saudi National Bank, Credit Suisse’s biggest shareholder, resigned on Monday. Mr. Al-Khudairy’s comments set off a collapse in the Swiss lender’s share price two weeks ago when he told Bloomberg that the Saudi bank was “absolutely not” interested in investing further in Credit Suisse.
Swiss regulators this weekend continued to defend their decision to force Credit Suisse to merge with UBS, as public opposition to the deal grows. Marlene Amstad, the president of the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority, said she was open to a wider investigation into the actions of the bank’s senior management ahead of its sale.
The incredible shrinking Twitter
Twitter employees were hit by two bits of tough news over the weekend — and only one was foreseeable. Both, however, underline the daunting challenges facing the social network under its owner of five months, Elon Musk.
The company is now valued at about $20 billion, Mr. Musk told employees in an internal memo announcing a new stock compensation program. That’s less than half of the $44 billion that he paid for it in October, and reflects problems Twitter has faced since he took over, including a steep drop in revenue as advertisers recoiled from the chaos that followed Mr. Musk’s takeover.
(The $20 billion figure emerges just months after news reports said that Mr. Musk had sought to raise new funds … at the $44 billion valuation.)
Even as Mr. Musk asserted again that Twitter’s financial health remained precarious, he also pitched the company’s low valuation as an opportunity. The fewer than 2,000 employees who remain will receive shares in X Corporation, Twitter’s current parent company, at the $20 billion valuation. In his email, Mr. Musk wrote that he believed Twitter could eventually be worth some $250 billion — or more than four times what the company has ever been valued at.
But part of Twitter’s source code has leaked online, via an anonymous poster on the online code repository GitHub. (The account’s name is “FreeSpeechEnthusiast,” an apparent riff on Musk’s declaring himself a “free speech absolutist.”)
Twitter sent a copyright infringement notice to GitHub, which has since taken down the code, and asked a California federal court to order the platform to reveal who was behind the account. Already, the social network’s executives suspect that one of the more than 5,000 employees who have been laid off or resigned since October was behind the post.
The leak could give Twitter’s rivals a leg up or, perhaps more worryingly, reveal security vulnerabilities. That said, Mr. Musk has promised to make public some of the company’s code — specifically the algorithms that power content recommendations to users — this week.
“We are concerned because we see our future growth is challenged by the storage of cat videos.”
— Morten Brandtzaeg, C.E.O. of the ammunition maker Nammo, who told The Financial Times that the company was struggling to expand a factory because a data center for TikTok was using so much of the region’s electricity.
The week ahead
It will be a quiet one for corporate earnings, but inflation, economic growth and the health of the banking sector will again be in the spotlight. Here’s what to watch this week:
Tuesday: Top officials from the Fed, Treasury and the F.D.I.C., including its chairman, Martin Gruenberg, will face questioning at a Senate Banking Committee hearing on the turmoil in the banking sector and the regulatory response to it. Elsewhere, Walgreens Boots Alliance and the Chinese electric-vehicle maker BYD report results.
Wednesday: The House Financial Services Committee will interrogate the same officials on what led to the demise of Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank. In a separate hearing, Howard Schultz, the former C.E.O. of Starbucks, will testify at a Senate committee about the coffee giant’s labor practices.
Thursday: The U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis is set to release G.D.P. data.
Friday: The same agency will post the latest Personal Consumption Expenditure figures, one of the Fed’s preferred inflation measures. Inflation data also comes for China and the eurozone.
THE SPEED READ
Saudi Aramco bought a 10 percent stake in a Chinese oil complex, a day after signing a $12.2 billion deal to build an oil refinery and petrochemical plant in northeastern China. (Bloomberg, Reuters)
The fallout from the Silicon Valley Bank collapse could result in a $500 billion hit to venture capitalists’ portfolios. (Bloomberg)
The Pentagon has stepped up its pitch to Silicon Valley to fund and develop new weapons systems. (WSJ)
The United Auto Workers union has a new president: Shawn Fain, a 54-year-old electrician who is vowing to be more confrontational in contract negotiations. (NYT)
A coalition of 350 businesses told lawmakers in a letter this morning that “the broken permitting system” is holding back infrastructure development. (U.S. Chamber of Commerce)
Meet He Lifeng, the Xi Jinping loyalist now overseeing China’s economy. (NYT)
Best of the rest
“Steve Cohen’s Amazin’, Maddening, Money-Losing Bid to Own New York” (NYT)
The insider-trading conviction of a former Coinbase manager may provide legal clarity on which crypto assets are securities. (WSJ)
A look at Vinod Adani, Gautam Adani’s “elusive” elder brother and a focus of a short-seller’s investigation into the embattled Indian conglomerate. (WSJ)
We’d like your feedback! Please email thoughts and suggestions to [email protected].
The post Markets Climb as Silicon Valley Bank Finally Finds a Buyer appeared first on New York Times.