Bank of London CEO calls SVB sale to HSBC a “missed opportunity” for innovation

By Amelia Isaacs on Monday 13 March 2023

Alternative LendingDigital BankingSavings and Investment

The Bank of London founder and group CEO Anthony Watson: “Britain needs better.”

Bank of London CEO calls SVB sale to HSBC a “missed opportunity” for innovation
Image source: Anthony Watson/The Bank of London.

Before HSBC swooped in as the knight in shining armour for not only Silicon Valley Bank UK but the UK’s tech industry at large, a number of other banks were reported to have put in bids.

Oaknorth Bank and Abu Dhabi wealth fund AQD were both reported to be interested in the UK arm of SVB, while newcomer the Bank of London confirmed its interest with gumption.

The UK’s sixth principal clearing bank, which only launched a year and a half ago, is familiar with SVB as its chief financial officer Gavin Hewitt, who joined at the end of January, spent seven years as CFO for the UK and EMEA for SVB.

The bank, which recently raised $40m at a continued valuation of $1bn, had submitted a formal proposal saying it was a “unique opportunity” to ensure the UK has a “more diversified” banking sector.

The Bank of London’s founder and group CEO Anthony Watson said it would be “deeply disappointing” if this moment led to “further consolidation of power among big banks”.

Since the announcement of HSBC’s rapid purchase of SVB, Watson has restated his disappointment, saying this will be viewed by many as a “missed opportunity” for UK businesses.

“It is great news that a speedy solution has been found for Silicon Valley Bank UK Limited, and the thousands of businesses it supports across fintech, life sciences and new technologies,” Watson said.

“Today’s decision means a vital community helping to foster innovation in our country continues to receive banking services without interruption.

“For many, this will be seen as a missed opportunity to support competition and innovation. It cannot be right that once again the heritage banks that have provided a poor service to UK entrepreneurs over many years benefit from their already dominant, privileged position.

“Britain needs better. For our part, we at the Bank of London stand ready to serve the entrepreneurial community of the UK.”

The Bank of London’s investor and non-executive director Marc Tluszcz echoed Watson’s statements, taking to Twitter twice this morning to say “I feel like a winner despite loosing [sic] to HSBC UK”.

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