Silicon Valley Bank hiring 80 in Britain as tech investment rebounds

LONDON (Reuters) - United States-based Silicon Valley Bank SIVB.O is midway through hiring around 80 bankers in Britain, as it bucks the trend of peers who are shrinking during the coronavirus crisis.

The Santa Clara, California-headquartered lender is converting its London-based branch into a full subsidiary, as it bets on finding technology investment opportunities for private equity firms with piles of cash sitting on the sidelines.

“We are starting to see pockets of activity already, the influx of U.S. capital into UK tech had slowed since March but the phones are now ringing again and investors see it as a time to potentially start being opportunistic,” said Erin Platts, President of the UK branch of Silicon Valley Bank.

The bank has hired 30 staff in the first half of the year and is on track to increase its headcount in Britain from 250 at the start of 2020 to 330 by year-end, Platts said.

It will also hire a chairman and three directors to oversee the business.

British high street banking rivals are meanwhile laying off staff, as they attempt to cut costs as Britain heads into its worst economic recession in recent memory.

Silicon Valley Bank, which specialises in the tech sector and connecting venture funds with start-ups needing cash, aims to capitalise on the backlog of investment that built up since the coronavirus pandemic triggered lockdowns across Europe in March.

“Historic levels of fundraising by private equity means there is a lot of capital on the sidelines, much of it time-bound, and they need to invest,” Platts said.

Fundraising in the U.S. for tech investment has continued at a frenzied pace despite the pandemic, with over 100 special purpose acquisition companies currently hunting for fast-growing companies to buy, data from SPAC Research show.

Reporting By Lawrence White;Editing by Elaine Hardcastle