Silicon Valley Bank JV to open Shenzhen branch

Updated 2017-04-25 09:31:14 China Daily

SPD Silicon Valley Bank plans to open a branch in Shenzhen in the summer of 2018, another big step in its robust expansion in China.

The Shanghai-headquartered bank opened its Beijing branch in February and signed a memorandum with the Shenzhen government on Thursday on the establishment of a branch in the city, a technology and innovation hub.

SSVB will invest 100 million yuan (.52 million) as the startup capital for its Shenzhen branch and support its "solid growth" with additional capital, according to Dave Jones, the bank's president.

Dave Jones, president of SPD Silicon Valley Bank.Dave Jones, president of SPD Silicon Valley Bank.

"Our target customers are venture capital-backed innovation companies," Jones said during the 2017 China (Guangdong)-U.S. Investment Cooperation Conference in Guangzhou, the provincial capital, on Thursday.

Jones emphasized that right now the Chinese mainland has its "almost 100 percent concentration", although the Silicon Valley Bank seeks Singapore as a potential second location in Asia.

SSVB is a joint venture between Shanghai Pudong Development Bank Co Ltd and U.S.-based Silicon Valley Bank. It was founded in 2012 as China's first commercial bank dedicated to technology and innovation startups.

It introduced renminbi business to its Chinese customers in September 2015 and was selected in April last year as one of the three pilots in Shanghai for trials of an investment-loan linkage mechanism to help small and medium-sized technology companies.

"We go where venture capitals goes," Jones said. "If you look at the historical venture capital investments, 40 percent of them went to Beijing, 20 percent to Shanghai and 20 percent to Shenzhen. Clearly we have to have a Shenzhen branch."

The bank president pointed to e-commerce, life sciences and all things mobile-from drones to electric vehicles-as some of the hottest areas where venture capital is going today.

Shenzhen, the headquarters of telecom giant Huawei Technologies Co Ltd and internet major Tencent Holdings Ltd, is also home to numerous tech startups, which have huge demand for funding.

The city also takes the core role in the development of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, an area that Pony Ma, chairman and CEO of Tencent, described as "the cradle of the Chinese Silicon Valley".

"I think it (the Greater Bay Area) is definitely possible to become the cradle of a Chinese Silicon Valley," Jones said. "What is required is the willingness to think differently from both companies and the government."

"The vision will be realized if the government maintains a dialogue with the entrepreneurial and innovation community and is willing to be innovative about taxes and offer better financial rewards to attract talent from other cities," he said.

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