Mar 21, 2023
Biden Team Reviews Impact of SVB Collapse on Chinese Startups
(Bloomberg) -- The US is assessing whether Silicon Valley Bank’s collapse inflicted more pain on Chinese technology startups than the government in Beijing and Chinese companies have disclosed, according to officials familiar with the matter.
The Biden administration is pulling together data on Chinese companies that may have had accounts with regional US banks, and is trying to gauge their exposure to the turmoil now roiling those lenders, according to US officials who asked not to be identified discussing private information.
A key question is whether there is any risk of broader contagion in the world’s second-largest economy, the people said. Venture investing and startup deals plunged last year around the world, including in China, in the face of rising interest rates, climbing inflation and a slowdown in economic growth.
Signature Bank Deal Sticks FDIC With $11 Billion ‘Dead Assets’
US government information suggests that many Chinese startups with foreign investors chose to incorporate in places like the Cayman Islands to skirt Chinese government restrictions on foreign ownership, and SVB welcomed some of that business, the officials said.
The National Security Council and the State Department didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on Tuesday. China’s embassy in Washington also didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
China’s state-owned Shanghai Pudong Development Bank Co., which owns a banking venture with SVB, previously sought to calm local clients by reminding them that its operations have been independent. In a statement at the time, SPD Silicon Valley Bank said it has always operated in a stable manner in accordance with Chinese laws and regulations and has an independent balance sheet.
Venture Capital Deals Set for Worst Drop in Over Two Decades
The attempts of some Chinese companies to open new accounts and secure alternate banking options could take months and risk becoming entangled in vetting procedures design to prevent money laundering, the officials said.
US officials have sought to prevent troubles in the banking sector from denting US and global economic prospects. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said Tuesday the US government could repeat the drastic actions it took recently to protect bank depositors if smaller lenders are threatened.
China’s venture landscape was hit especially hard by the government’s multiyear regulatory crackdown on the tech sector and severe lockdown measures to limit the spread of Covid-19. The value of venture-capital deals dropped 50% in China the first 11 months of last year, according to research firm Preqin. China-focused fundraising dropped by 81% in that period, the researcher said.
©2023 Bloomberg L.P.