Chinese companies and tycoons rush to reassure investors after SVB collapse causes anxiety

Hong Kong (CNN) The collapse of Silicon Valley Bank (SVB), which woos Chinese start-ups, has sparked widespread concern in China, with a number of founders and companies rushing to placate investors by saying their exposure was negligible or non-existent.

SVB, which worked with nearly half of all venture-backed tech and healthcare companies in the U.S. before it was taken over by the government, has a Chinese joint venture set up in 2012 targeting the country’s tech elite.

SPD Silicon Valley Bank, which was owned 50-50 by SVB and local partner Shanghai Pudong Development Bank, said on Saturday that its operations were “healthy”.

“The bank has a standardized corporate governance structure and an independent balance sheet,” it said in a statement. “As China’s first technology bank, SPD Silicon Valley Bank is committed to serving Chinese science and technology enterprises and has always operated soundly in accordance with Chinese laws and regulations.”

It is unclear what will happen to SVB’s ownership of the joint venture.

SVB Financial Group, the parent company of SVB, also has two business consulting firms and one financial services firm in mainland China, according to company database Tianyancha.

Concerns about SVB’s failure have spread around the world as investors worried about the wider risks to the global banking sector and any potential spillover effects.

In an extraordinary move to restore confidence in the US banking system, the Biden administration guaranteed on Sunday that customers of SVB and Signature Bank, which were shut down by regulators, will have access to all their money.

That action appears to have calmed global markets, with US futures rising in response and some Asian markets paring earlier losses.

SVB headquarters in Santa Clara, California on March 10, 2023.

Not significant exposure

In China, at least a dozen firms have issued statements since SVB collapsed, trying to pacify investors or clients, saying their exposure to the lender was limited. Most were biotech companies.

BeiGene, one of China’s largest cancer-focused drug companies, said on Monday it had more than $175 million in uninsured cash deposits with SVB, representing approximately 3.9% of its cash, cash equivalents and short-term investments.

“The company does not expect the latest developments with SVB to significantly affect its operations,” it said.

Zai Lab, a pharmaceutical company, announced that its cash deposits with SVB were “insignificant” at about $23 million.

The closure of SVB “will not have an impact” on the company’s ability to meet its operating and capital expenditures, including wages, it said.

Other companies that publicly underwrote investors included Andon Health, Sirnaomics, Everest Medicines, Broncus Medical, Jacobio Pharmaceuticals, Brii Biosciences, CStone Pharmaceuticals, Genor Biopharma and CANbridge Pharmaceuticals.

Mobile ad tech firm Mobvista and wealth management firm Noah Holdings said their cash holdings at SVB were “minimal” or “immaterial.”

Popular selfie app Meitu said it had had no bank accounts with SVB since 2020. It issued a statement “to avoid any possible public misunderstanding.”

Ascletis Pharma, MicroPort NeuroTech, Antengene Corp and Suzhou Basecare Medical Corporation also denied having deposits or business dealings with SVB.

Pan Shiyi, co-founder and former chairman of Soho China, a major Beijing-based property developer, denied he had any money at SVB after reports went viral on social media that he had lost billions of yuan.

“We have never opened an account with Silicon Valley Bank, nor have we made a deposit,” he said late Sunday on his Weibo account.

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