SVB: A Major Player in Ag-Tech Space

Silicon Valley Bank and Its Impact on Food-Tech Startups

Beyond Meat is just one of the ag-tech and food industry startups that are part of Silicon Valley Bank's financial portfolio. The bank is also a major lender and depositor for the wine industry. (DTN file photo by Elaine Shein)

OMAHA (DTN) -- Federal bank regulators announced late Sunday that depositors at the Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) will have access to all their money Monday morning, but the failure of the bank still raises the possibility that a significant number of food and ag-tech startups could be affected by the situation.

SVB failed on Friday, and it has created an immediate domino effect in some industries.

The combination of wealth from high-tech firms and creative thinking on the West Coast has led San Francisco and Silicon Valley to be a center for companies focused on new ideas in food such as plant-based and cell-based production and addressing problems such as food waste.

SVB frequently spotlighted investments in alternative proteins and vertical farming companies in its internal analysis in recent years.

In February, the tech magazine Fast Company looked at vertical farming challenges, noting the possible "bubble" in industry investment. (…)

People who have made money in Silicon Valley have shown great interest in investing in food startups of all kinds, and the companies' banking relationships are often in institutions in the San Francisco Bay area.

SVB also is a backer of alternative meat companies such as Beyond Meats and touted similar companies as part of its portfolio. (…)

National Public Radio reported over the weekend that Shelf Engine, a Seattle-based food management startup that offers solutions to food waste, had its cash in SVB, and on Friday failed in an attempt to move its money to JP Morgan Chase.

Tech companies and startups aren't the only ones affected. The Wall Street Journal also reported Monday, "Hundreds of wine producers borrowed from the bank and deposited cash there, including some small, midsize and privately held businesses that are trying to make payroll or loan payments."

Federal deposit insurance covers deposits only up to $250,000, but many startup companies that raise venture capital had much more money than that at SVB.

Last week, companies became concerned that higher interest rates could make it difficult for SVB to do business and began withdrawing more money than SVB had on hand. On Friday, the federal regulators took over SVB amid fears that the contagion would spread to other banks. On Sunday federal regulators revealed that New York regulators had closed Signature Bank.

Late Sunday, the Federal Reserve, Treasury and Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation announced in a joint statement that "depositors will have access to all of their money starting Monday, March 13."

President Joe Biden also said in a statement that at his direction, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen "and my National Economic Council director worked diligently with the banking regulators to address problems at Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank. I am pleased that they reached a prompt solution that protects American workers and small businesses and keeps our financial system safe. The solution also ensures that taxpayer dollars are not put at risk."

"The American people and American businesses can have confidence that their bank deposits will be there when they need them," Biden said.

"I am firmly committed to holding those responsible for this mess fully accountable and to continuing our efforts to strengthen oversight and regulation of larger banks so that we are not in this position again."

Biden also said he would deliver remarks "on how we will maintain a resilient banking system to protect our historic economic recovery."

Also see "Todd's Take: What Does the Failure of Silicon Valley Bank Mean to Ag Markets?" here:….

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation was named the receiver of SVB and took over its website and operations.

-- FDIC Information for Silicon Valley Bank, Santa Clara, CA…

-- Joint Statement by the Department of the Treasury, Federal Reserve, and FDIC…

-- Federal Reserve System Board of Governors -- Federal Reserve Board announces it will make available additional funding to eligible depository institutions to help assure banks have the ability to meet the needs of all their depositors…

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