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Silicon Valley Bank hires UK chair, sees deal boom despite tough macro outlook

·2-min read

LONDON (Reuters) - California-based Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) has hired former TSB Bank executive Darren Pope as Chairman of its newly-formed British subsidiary, as it expands its business advising on tech deals despite the darkening economic outlook.

SVB - which advises global firms such as Wise, Snyk and Atomico - has also hired Vin Murria, Astrid Grey, and Helen Heslop as directors for the unit, said Erin Platts, head of SVB's European and British businesses.

The move to incorporate a subsidiary in Britain, instead of operating just as a branch of the Santa Clara-based bank, comes despite a downbeat near-term outlook for the country's economy and a fall in valuations for former tech high-fliers.

Since money transfer company Wise in July 2021 completed London's largest ever tech listing at a valuation of around $11 billion, its shares have fallen around 30% in a sign of the sector's recent troubles.

The value of tech mergers and acquisitions plunged 43% to $47.6 billion in January-August this year compared to the same period in 2021, according to Refinitiv data, while the number of transactions was little changed, showing how mega-deals are off the table in the tougher environment.

Initial public offerings have been even harder-hit, with funds raised plunging 88% this year compared to 2021 to just $1.2 billion, according to the Refinitiv data.

While public market transactions have tailed off, Platts said, that partly reflects the fact that 2021 was an exceptional year for the sector, and action has moreover shifted away from stock listings to private deals and more debt finance.

"Building a subsidiary is not cheap, and investment in the team is not cheap, but we are really bullish in our ability to grow," Platts told Reuters.

"A lot of money has been raised by venture capital and that money is time-bound," Platts said, meaning it has to be invested, giving Silicon Valley Bank confidence to grow its British business despite the tougher macro environment.

Silicon Valley bank hired more than 150 staff across finance, risk and compliance roles in Europe in 2021, Reuters reported in July last year, as it looked to connect investors with tech firms across the continent.

(Reporting By Lawrence White; editing by David Evans)