First Citizens Bank, based in based in Raleigh, North Carolina has purchased Silicon Valley Bank. Photo from the Wall Street Journal.
When the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) took over Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) on March 10, 2023, it kept the bank in operation by setting up a “bridge bank.” The Silicon Valley Bridge Bank kept SVB’s branches running and allowed depositors–including those with deposits above the FDIC’s $250,000 insurance limit–to withdraw funds. The Silicon Valley Bridge Bank borrowed from the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco to ensure that it had the funds available to meet deposit withdrawals.
The FDIC prefers to use bridge banks to operate failed banks for as short a time as possible. Typically, the FDIC will seize a bank on a Friday and ideally will have identified another commercial bank willing to purchase the seized bank by the start of business on the following Monday. Finding a bank to buy SVB proved difficult, however, for two reasons:
1. The Biden administration has been skeptical of increasing concentration in the banking industry. That fact may have kept the FDIC from attempting to recruit a large bank to buy SVB, or large banks may have been reluctant to buy SVB because they believed that the Federal Trade Commission or the antitrust division of the U.S. Department of Justice would have blocked the purchase or would have imposed restrictions on how the bank could be operated.
2. Following the Great Financial Crisis of 2008-2009, some banks that purchased failing financial firms found themselves having to deal with loans and securities that had declined in value and with lawsuits from investors in the bank. That history may have caused many banks to be reluctant to buy SVB.
After two attempts to auction SVB failed to attract a buyer, on Sunday, March 26, the FDIC announced that First Citizens Bank, a regional bank based in Raleigh, North Carolina had agreed to purchase SVB. Before the merger, First Citizens was the thirtieth largest bank in the United States, so its purchase of SVB would not significantly increase concentration in retail banking.
Under terms of the purchase, on Monday morning First Citizens began operating SVB’s 17 branches, which now become First Citizens’ branches, assumed responsibility for SVBs deposits, and received $70 billion in SVB’s assets, at a 16.5 percent discount. About $90 billion in SVB’s assets will remain with the FDIC until a buyer for them can be found. The FDIC believes it will have lost about $20 billion from its Deposit Insurance Fund (DIF) as a result of the SVB’s failure. The FDIC will use a special levy on commercial banks to replenish the DIF.
The FDIC’s announcement of First Citizens’ purchase of SVB can be found here.