Class action suit filed over Silicon Valley Bank collapse

Silicon Valley Bank
City of Hialeah Employees Retirement System, et al. v. Greg W. Becker, et al.
Date: April 7, 2023

Issue: Whether Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) executives made misrepresentations about the bank’s interest rate exposure in its public statements and filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

Case Summary: Investors of SVB sued former bank executives and underwriters alleging the bank made misrepresentations in its public statements and filings with the SEC.

The City of Hialeah Employees Retirement System, Asbestos Workers Philadelphia Welfare and Pension Fund, and Heat & Frost Insulators Local 12 Funds (the investors) alleged SVB concealed the magnitude of risks facing its business model resulting from the Federal Reserve System raising the federal rate. On March 10th, investors and depositors attempted to withdraw $42 billion from SVB following news the bank lost $1.8 billion after a securities sale on March 8, 2023. SVB announced a plan to raise $2 million through offerings of common stock and depository shares. The bank anticipated this would strengthen its financial position following a year of interest rate hikes at the Federal Reserve. Instead, the bank’s share price fell 60.4% on March 9, 2023, and investors and depositors expeditiously pulled their money from the bank. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) then took over SVB to protect its depositors despite most deposits not being FDIC insured.

According to the complaint, CEO Greg Becker issued a press release touting the bank’s outstanding balance sheet growth on January 22, 2021, when SVB announced fourth quarter and 2020 full year financial results. SVB allegedly concealed risks posed by potential increases to interest rates and related reduction in client merger and acquisition activity days later when the company issued registration statements. The investors also alleged SVB’s 2020 annual report misrepresented the risks facing the bank, and SVB’s March 2021 Common Stock Registration statements contained untrue statements and omitted material facts. However, the investors claimed they first learned about SVB’s liquidity pressures in late July 2022, when SVB announced “disappointing” second quarter results and lowered it 2022 financial guidance. The investors asserted the bank acknowledged the challenging environment but continued to emphasize the strength of its balance sheet when customers began to learn about liquidity pressures facing the bank. However, SVB allegedly continued to downplay liquidity issues well into the opening months of 2023. The investors claimed this misleading information caused them to buy SVB’s stock at artificially inflated prices, while the SVB executives knew their statements were misleading.

Bottom Line: The initial case conference is scheduled for July 6, 2023.

Documents: Complaint