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Former Silicon Valley Bank CEO says rate hikes sank firm

2023-05-15T18:19:40Z

Greg Becker, President and CEO at SVB speaks at the 2022 Milken Institute Global Conference in Beverly Hills, California, U.S., May 3, 2022. REUTERS/Mike Blake

Greg Becker, former CEO of collapsed lender Silicon Valley Bank, apologized in congressional testimony for what he called the “devastating” collapse of the firm while citing rising interest rates and social media as key causes of its demise.

In prepared testimony published on Monday by the Senate Banking Committee, Becker said he believed the bank was responsive to regulator concerns about managing risk and working to address issues before an “unprecedented” bank run led to its failure.

“The takeover of SVB has been personally and professionally devastating, and I am truly sorry for how this has impacted SVB’s employees, clients and shareholders,” he said.

Becker’s account contrasts with those of regulators and banking industry executives who blamed SVB’s leadership for its failure to manage interest rate risks or diversify the bank’s business beyond the highly concentrated tech sector in the Bay Area.

Becker said he did not believe “that any bank could survive a bank run of that velocity and magnitude.”

Becker, along with Signature Bank’s former co-founder and Chairman Scott Shay and former President Eric Howell, are set to testify in front of the Senate Banking Committee on Tuesday at 10 a.m. EDT (1400 GMT) where they will appear publicly for the first time since their firms collapsed, triggering rare government intervention to backstop deposits.

The former executives for New York-based Signature Bank, which also failed in March, maintained the bank could have survived had regulators not chosen to close it, according to separate testimony.

California banking regulators moved quickly to shut SVB down on March 10 after depositors withdrew $42 billion in 24 hours. Regulators closed Signature on March 12 after it also experienced liquidity issues following SVB’s collapse.