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Signature Bank closed by New York regulators in SVB's wake

Bloomberg • 3 min read
Signature Bank closed by New York regulators in SVB's wake
The decision to put Signature into receivership came as a surprise to its managers, who found out shortly before the public announcement. Photo: Bloomberg
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Signature Bank was closed by New York state financial regulators on Sunday as the fallout from last week’s implosion of SVB Financial Group’s Silicon Valley Bank spreads to other lenders.

Depositors at the New York-based bank will have access to their money under “a similar systemic risk exception” to one that will allow Silicon Valley Bank clients to get their money on Monday, the Treasury Department, the Federal Reserve and the Federal Insurance Deposit Corp. said in a joint statement Sunday.

“All depositors of this institution will be made whole,” the regulators said. “As with the resolution of Silicon Valley Bank, no losses will be borne by the taxpayer.”

The decision to put Signature into receivership came as a surprise to its managers, who found out shortly before the public announcement, said a person familiar with the company’s operations. The bank faced a torrent of deposit outflows on Friday, but the situation had stabilized by Sunday, the person said, asking not to be identified discussing a private matter.

A Signature Bank representative declined to comment.

Signature Bank, a New York state-chartered commercial bank that’s FDIC-insured, had total assets of about US$110.36 billion ($148.75 billion) and total deposits of roughly US$88.59 billion as of Dec 31, the New York Department of Financial Services said in a separate statement.

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Silicon Valley Bank abruptly became the biggest US lender to fail in more than a decade on Friday, unravelling in less than 48 hours after outlining a plan to shore up capital. The bank took a huge loss on sales of its securities amid rising interest rates, spooking investors and depositors who rapidly began pulling their money. On Thursday alone, investors and depositors tried to yank about US$42 billion.

Protecting Depositors

US regulators are racing against the clock to find solutions for failed Silicon Valley Bank and stop a potential contagion from spreading to other lenders. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said Sunday that she approved a resolution for Silicon Valley Bank “that fully protects all depositors.” Concern about the health of other smaller banks focused on the venture capital and startup communities is prompting regulators to consider extraordinary measures to protect financial institutions and their depositors.

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New York’s Department of Financial Services is in “close contact with all regulated entities in light of market events, monitoring market trends and collaborating closely with other state and federal regulators to protect consumers, ensure the health of the entities we regulate and preserve the stability of the global financial system,” Superintendent Adrienne A. Harris said in her agency’s statement.

Signature Bank came under the spotlight with the collapse of the FTX crypto exchange late last year.

FTX had accounts with Signature Bank, which the company said represented less than 0.1% of its overall deposits. In December, after FTX’s collapse, Signature said it planned to shed as much as US$10 billion in deposits from digital-asset clients. That would bring crypto-related deposits to around 15% to 20% of its total, and the bank said it would cap the share of deposits from any single digital-asset client.

Silvergate Capital Corp., another bank hit hard by FTX’s implosion that spent recent weeks bombarded by short sellers, deserted by depositors and shunned by business partners, said last week it was closing its doors, just days before Silicon Valley Bank’s seizure.

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