HSBC’s UK boss Ian Stuart today defended the bank’s decision to buy Silicon Valley Bank UK for just £1 back in March, arguing the bank needed to be “brave”.
Speaking at TheCityUK’s International Conference, Stuart admitted the bank has had “some criticism” for doing only “five hours of due diligence” but said “sometimes you just have to be brave”.
“At some point the papers came on my desk and it said is it ‘go’? Or is it ‘no go’? And I thought it was a ‘go’,” he said.
“I hope that little bit of bravery pays off,” he said, noting that the one person the deal definitely helped was “the UK taxpayer”.
Silicon Valley Bank UK catered to some of the UK’s fastest growing businesses with many working in the tech and life sciences space.
Those types of companies generally have a higher risk profile than the firms HSBC traditionally focuses on, but Stuart said the new bank’s customers are “some of the most exciting” companies in the UK.
The deal was widely applauded for helping mitigate the impact on the UK’s start-up sector, with some suggesting the deal “saved hundreds of the U.K.’s most innovative companies.”
The comments come as HSBC looks to push back against efforts break up the bank and spin out its Asia business, which makes the majority of the bank’s profit.
Yesterday, HSBC hit back against Chinese insurer Ping An – one of the bank’s largest investors, which has been leading the charge to split the bank – arguing a break up would “result in a material erosion of earnings, returns, dividends and shareholder value.”