Powerful UAE royal’s firm mulls takeover of SVB’s UK unit

Royal Group, an investment firm controlled by a top Abu Dhabi royal, is considering a possible takeover of the UK arm of Silicon Valley Bank following its collapse last week, according to people familiar with the matter.

The conglomerate, chaired by United Arab Emirates National Security Adviser Sheikh Tahnoon bin Zayed Al Nahyan, is discussing a potential buy-out through one of its subsidiaries, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the discussions are private.

No final decision has been made and a bid may not be tabled. Representatives for Royal Group didn’t immediately respond to requests for comments outside of normal working hours.

Other firms are also said to be exploring making a bid. Clearing bank Bank of London Group Ltd. said in a statement on Sunday that it has submitted a formal proposal to the Treasury, Bank of England and the board of SVB UK.

SoftBank Group Corp.-backed lender OakNorth is in detailed talks about an offer, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Tech sector

The turmoil at Silicon Valley Bank UK is spilling over into the nation’s technology sector, stoking concern among startups and venture-capital firms worried about losing access to funds sitting at the lender. While the lender is small compared to the UK’s largest banks, it plays an outsized role in the world of startups, describing itself on its website as “the go-to banking partner for founders, entrepreneurs and investors.”

A potential takeover by Sheikh Tahnoon’s firm underscores Abu Dhabi’s increasing financial heft on global deals and rekindles memories of 2008, when the Gulf’s richest monarchies stepped in to buy stakes in western lenders such as Citigroup Inc.

Sheikh Tahnoon’s profile has risen in recent years as he’s emerged as the most powerful business figure among the Abu Dhabi royals. On top of his role as chairman at Royal Group, he also oversees the wealth fund ADQ as well as lender First Abu Dhabi Bank PJSC. Last week, he was appointed chairman of the emirate’s $790 billion wealth fund Abu Dhabi Investment Authority.

The Financial Times reported earlier that an unnamed Middle East buyer had expressed interest in a potential purchase of SVB UK.

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