A local economist said on Monday that the failure of Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) will not hit Hong Kong just yet, but its collapse will make it harder for local tech companies to secure investment, while a leader in the startup community said that Hong Kong startups won't be dragged down.
US regulators shut down SVB on Friday after the tech startup lender suffered a run on deposits. However, authorities introduced multiple measures on Sunday to boost confidence in the US banking system after the biggest banking failure since the 2008 financial crisis.
On Sunday, Signature Bank of New York was also closed.
Terence Chong, an associate professor of economics at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, said although the Federal Reserve and US treasury had bailed out the bank, "we still don't know whether there are any inter-bank borrowings between SVB and other banks".
"Whether there will be any domino effect is still unknown, and the confidence of depositors may not be resumed that fast because we do have to wait and see whether there are any other banks which may face the same problem," Chong said. He warned if there is a domino effect, the global stock market may experience a significant decline.
Chong said the failure of SVB will affect technology companies both in Hong Kong and the US, as investors will be cautious about pouring money into such firms.
"The whole sector may face a difficult time because of this collapse. Even if the bank is rescued, investors may not provide a B round or C round of investment to these high-tech companies," Chong said, adding that those companies rely heavily on investors instead of banks.
He said local tech companies may also find it difficult to get investment from the US.
Another representative from the field, however, said although the collapse of SVB could be devastating for startups in Silicon Valley, it wouldn't affect startups in Hong Kong.
"For Hong Kong, our bank system is very healthy and we have the Hong Kong Monetary Authority looking after our banking system," said Edmund Lee, chairman of the Technology Incubation Network. He added that Hong Kong startups usually use banking giants like HSBC and Bank of China.
Several listed companies in Hong Kong issued announcements disclosing related risks, generally stating that they only have small deposits with SVB.
As interest rate hikes continue to impact the economy, weaker lenders may face further struggles and potential failure, Chong said, adding that the Fed may consider slowing the pace of interest rate hikes, which could be good news for the stock market and also for the global economy.
HSBC announced on Monday that it's acquiring the UK subsidiary of Silicon Valley Bank for 1 pound sterling.