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Former FDIC Chair Bair says buyer for Silicon Valley Bank is the ‘best outcome’

“The problem is this was a rush, this was a liquidity failure. It was a bank run, so they didn’t have time to prepare to market,” Bair said.
Sheila Bair, former FDIC chair, in New York on Sept. 22, 2014.
Former FDIC Chair Sheila Bair in New York on Sept. 22, 2014.Peter Foley / Bloomberg via Getty Images file

Sheila Bair, former chair of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., said Sunday that finding a buyer for Silicon Valley Bank is the “best outcome” after regulators shut it down last week over concerns about its solvency.

The shutdown of Silicon Valley Bank, one of the leading lenders to the tech sector, was the second-largest bank collapse in U.S. history. It prompted a wider sell-off in stocks and sparked fears that other banks may be at risk of failure.

"That's the smoothest way to handle these," Bair said on NBC News’ “Meet the Press.” "In almost all of our bank failures during the great financial crisis — we had about 400 of them — we did purchase an assumption, we sold a failed bank to a healthy bank. And usually the healthy acquirer would also cover the uninsured, because they wanted the franchise value of these large depositors, so optimally, that's the best outcome.

“The problem is this was a rush, this was a liquidity failure. It was a bank run, so they didn’t have time to prepare to market,” she added.

“The banks are having to do that now and playing catch-up."

The bank’s funds are in the hands of the FDIC. All those who banked with SVB, a lender insured by the FDIC, had only up to $250,000 in money guaranteed by the federal government.

Those who banked more than $250,000 with SVB — totaling 90% of SVB’s deposits — were left in financial limbo. The group includes Roku, which said it has nearly $500 million with SVB; Roblox, which said it has $150 million with SVB; and many others. SVB claimed to have about 50% of all U.S. venture-backed tech and life science companies and more than 2,500 venture capital funds as its customers.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said Sunday on CBS’ “Face the Nation” that there wouldn’t be a bailout but added that the federal government is trying to figure out a way to help depositors.

SVB has been looking for a buyer as deposit outflows continued to accelerate, CNBC reported Friday morning. By noon Friday, California officials announced they were taking over SVB’s deposits and placing the bank into receivership.

Senators swiftly aired their concerns.

Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., a member of the Banking Committee, said on "Meet the Press" that he hasn't received a briefing yet about the shutdown and was “not ready to offer” the bank a bailout.

The FDIC briefed members of the California congressional delegation about the collapse Saturday night, multiple offices in the House and the Senate told NBC News on Sunday.

Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., a member of the Banking Committee, also said Sunday he believes the “best outcome will be an acquisition.” 

“I know I’ve been in conversations with the regulators, the administration, the Fed. The best outcome will be can they find a buyer for this SVB bank today before the markets open in Asia later in the day,” Warner said in an interview on ABC News’ “This Week.”

“That would be the best, making sure that depositors — remember that shareholders in the bank are going to lose their money; let’s be clear about that — but the depositors can be taken care of. And the best outcome will be an acquisition of SVB,” he added.