Silicon Valley Bank expands UK operation

Private equity and venture capital-focused lender Silicon Valley Bank has opened a full-service commercial banking operation in London, the first US bank to do so in more than five years.

Silicon Valley Bank has broadened its UK operation to offer a full-service commercial banking service. SVB specialises in the technology, life sciences and cleantech sectors, and has built up extensive relationships with the private equity and venture capital communities it aims to service.  

SVB is more than 30 years old in the US, having been launched in California in the 1980s, but its European presence is much younger. Although it has been operating a lending business from London for several years, the newly-expanded operation will offer all the facilities a commercial bank would do, according to Phil Cox, head of UK, Israel, and India at SVB.

“The bank has grown massively over the last couple of years. We are clearly differentiated from high-street banks – we're incredibly well networked with advisers and industry figures, and we understand the sectors we focus on,” Cox told Private Equity International.

“We have seen a marked shift in recent years in our chosen niche industries’ activity within the UK. The elements of an emerging and effective technology ecosystem are all around us: first class universities, an entrepreneurial and business ownership culture, investors, the emergence of technology clusters and the support for the sector within the UK government are all very positive indicators. There's a real buzz in the UK and Europe more generally at the moment,” he added.

George Osborne, Chancellor of the UK Exchequer, said: “The news that Silicon Valley Bank is launching a full banking service in London is yet more proof that the UK is fast becoming the technology centre of Europe. The knowledge, expertise and dedication that Silicon Valley Bank brings to the ecosystem is another important step toward our objective to make the UK the best place to start and grow the great technology companies of the future.”

SVB is well-capitalised, with deposits heavily outweighing loans issued. SVB Financial Group, the bank's parent organisation, has about $21 billion in total assets, while the bank's loan book amounted to $7.1 billion at the end of March. As such, its Tier 1 risk-based capital is more than double the US Federal Reserve's minimum.