Bankers at the London branch of Silicon Valley Bank reportedly received tens of millions of dollars in bonuses just days after the Bank of England orchestrated a rescue package that led to Europe’s largest lender, HSBC, buying the failed bank’s subsidary for just £1, Sky News reports.
Sources described the bonus pool as “modest”, and said it totalled between £15m and £20m.
It was unclear on Saturday how much had been awarded to Erin Platts, the UK bank’s chief executive or her senior colleagues.
One insider said the bonus payments were a signal of HSBC’s confidence in the talent base at its new subsidiary and that the buyer had been keen to honour previously agreed payments in order to help retain key staff. –Sky
What’s more, bonuses were reportedly doled out to US staff just hours before the Santa Clara, California-based bank collapsed. The bank was taken into FDIC ownership, while SVB Financial Group has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection as it looks to find buyers for their remaining assets.
The UK arm of (formerly) SVB employs around 700 people. The London branch’s ‘guided demolition’ was coordinated with UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, who played a pivotal role in an emergency auction that drew interest from several challenger banks, including the Bank of London and Oaknorth.
According to insiders, if HSBC hadn’t stepped up, the bonuses wouldn’t have been paid, while another insider pointed out that stock held by senior executives and other employees had been rendered worthless amid the implosion.
“The UK’s tech sector is genuinely world-leading and of huge importance to the British economy, supporting hundreds of thousands of jobs,” said chancellor Jeremy Hunt. “We have worked urgently to deliver on that promise and find a solution that will provide SVB UK’s customers with confidence.”
“[This] ensures customer deposits are protected and can bank as normal, with no taxpayer support.”
The government had been lobbied intensively last weekend by hundreds of tech entrepreneurs about the parlous state of SVB UK.
They warned of “an existential threat to the UK tech sector”, adding: “The Bank of England’s assessment that SVB going into administration would have limited impact on the UK economy displays a dangerous lack of understanding of the sector and the role it plays in the wider economy, both today and in the future.”
The founders warned Mr Hunt that the collapse of SVB UK would “cripple the sector and set the ecosystem back 20 years”. -Sky
“Many businesses will be sent into involuntary liquidation overnight,” were SVB UK not rescued, wrote the entrepreneurs.