Silicon Valley Bank today unveiled its first UK office – in London – along with a pledge that more Cambridge technology companies will figure on its lending radar.The Californian bank’s physical presence in the UK promises a seismic shake-up in British banking culture at a time when companies claim High Street lenders are sitting on their hands.
SVB’s move to London, hailed by Chancellor George Osborne, as a huge vote of confidence in the UK, is not a snub for Cambridge, sources informed me.
The bank had hoped to launch a Cambridge office but has already had to go through hoops with UK financial authorities just to get London up and running.
But a bank source told Business Weekly today that “Cambridge companies are on SVB’s radar” along with other cutting edge UK technology plays. The bank is backing quality rather than volume.
Only in February, SVB handed Cambridge Broadband Networks Ltd (CBNL), which makes point-to-multipoint packet microwave backhaul solutions for mobile broadband network operators, a $7 million line of credit. CBNL has been helping to drive O2’s 4G trials in London.
In the US, more than 50 per cent of all venture capital-backed technology and life science companies work with Silicon Valley Bank, as well as some of the most successful and well-known technology brands in the world, including Cisco and Pinterest.
The bank rates the Cambridge technology cluster very highly and its lending footprint is an ideal match. The new full service commercial offering focuses on hi-tech, life science and CleanTech propositions.
The first US bank to open a commercial banking branch in the UK in several years, Silicon Valley Bank is offering corporate innovators current and deposit accounts, loans, cash management services, trade finance and foreign exchange.
Greg Becker, CEO and President of Silicon Valley Bank, said: “The opening of a Silicon Valley Bank branch in London signals a significant step in the evolution of the technology sector in the UK at a time when there is strong government support for a thriving community of local innovation businesses.
“The UK branch opening is a key milestone for us and, more significantly, an example of how important high-growth technology, life science and cleantech businesses and their investors are to the global economy. Our clients are doing remarkable things. We are excited to be a part of their success and thrilled to be open for business in the UK.”
Having banked some of the most successful and well-known technology brands in the world, including Cisco, Mindspeed, Mozilla and Pinterest as well as some of the top investors in the sector including NEA, Sequoia Capital and Silver Lake, Silicon Valley Bank counts itself a crucial part of the innovation ecosystem.
For more than three decades in the US market, it has helped thousands of companies to be successful, from the earliest startups to large public companies.
In recent years, SVB Financial Group, the parent company of Silicon Valley Bank, has expanded its global footprint and opened offices in the UK, Israel, India and China where, later this year with Shanghai Pudong Development Bank, it is expected to open the first joint venture bank in China since 1997.
In contrast to much of the global banking market, Silicon Valley Bank delivered record results for its fiscal year 2011 with all-time high loan and deposit balances, net income and earnings per share, as well as a strong balance sheet.
Phil Cox, head of UK, Israel and India for Silicon Valley Bank, added: “We have seen a marked shift in recent years in our chosen niche industries’ activity within the UK. The elements of an emerging and effective technology ecosystem are all around us – first class universities, an entrepreneurial and business ownership culture, investors, the emergence of technology clusters and the support for the sector within the UK government are all very positive indicators.”
Silicon Valley Bank has had a presence in the UK since 2004 through its affiliate SVB Financial Group UK Limited, providing access to financing solutions for some of the highest profile and fastest growing UK-based technology companies: The Foundry, Shazam, Icera, Mimecast and Adconion, for example. Top-tier venture firms such as Index Ventures and Balderton Capital have also chosen to work with Silicon Valley Bank in the UK.
George Osborne, said: “The news that Silicon Valley Bank is launching a full banking service in London is yet more proof that the UK is fast becoming the technology centre of Europe.
“The knowledge, expertise and dedication that Silicon Valley Bank brings to the ecosystem is another important step toward our objective to make the UK the best place to start and grow the great technology companies of the future.”
• More information on SVB’s plans for the UK is available at www.svb.com/uk