LONDON — British finance minister Jeremy Hunt said on Sunday he was working with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Bank of England Governor Andrew Bailey to “avoid or minimize damage” resulting from the chaos engulfing the UK arm of Silicon Valley Bank.
“We will bring forward immediate plans to ensure the short-term operational and cashflow needs of Silicon Valley Bank UK customers are able to be met,” Hunt said.
Friday’s dramatic failure of the U.S. parent bank, which focuses on tech startups, was the biggest since the 2008 financial crisis.
Talks were held over the weekend involving Hunt, Sunak and Bailey to discuss the issues faced by British tech companies affected by the collapse, the British Treasury said.
Hunt said the British government was treating the issue as a “high priority” and said that, given the importance of the bank to its customers, its failure could have a significant impact on some companies.
More than 250 UK tech firm chief executives signed a letter addressed to Hunt on Saturday calling for government intervention, a copy seen by Reuters shows.
Under insolvency proceedings for banks in Britain, some depositors are eligible for up to 85,000 pounds ($102,000) of compensation for cash held at lenders, or 170,000 pounds for joint accounts.
Hunt reiterated comments by the BoE that overall Silicon Valley Bank has a limited presence in Britain and does not perform functions critical to the financial system.
The BoE said on Friday that it was seeking a court order to place SVB UK into an insolvency procedure. ($1 = 0.8314 pounds) (Reporting by Andrew MacAskill; Editing by Frances Kerry and Hugh Lawson)