Portnoy Lambastes Silicon Valley Bank Rescue

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Posted on: March 16, 2023, 06:27h. 

Last updated on: March 16, 2023, 06:39h.

Count Barstool Sports founder David Portnoy among those irked by President Biden rapidly moving to bail out now-crippled SVB Financial (NASDAQ: SIVB) — the parent of Silicon Valley Bank (SVB).

Silicon Valley Bank
A Silicon Valley Bank branch in Northern California. Barstool Sports founder David Portnoy ripped the government’s rescue of the defunct bank. (Image: ABC News)

In an interview with Fox Business earlier today, Portnoy said Silicon Valley Bank operated a poor business model, and that the government shouldn’t be supporting financial institutions in that position.

When banks fail, it’s a tough one, because, again, the average ‘Joe Schmo’ puts their money [in], I want to get their money back, but I don’t think banks should necessarily be rescued because you’re running a bad business,” Portnoy said in the interview. “Nobody rescues me when I run out of money.”

President Biden maintains that assistance for Silicon Valley Bank, which counts a slew of left-leaning political donors and Gov. Gavin Newsom (D-CA) among its clients, won’t be borne by the taxpayers. Still, last week’s runs on SVB and Signature Bank of New York prompted speculation that other regional banks could be in financially precarious spots, leading to rapid share price erosion while sending some institutions to the Federal Reserve’s discount window to the tune of $152.85 billion. That’s well in excess of the $111 billion banks borrowed from the central bank during the 2008 financial crisis.

Venture capitalist and GOP megadonor Peter Thiel confirmed he had $50 million in deposits at Silicon Valley Bank despite cautioning associates to yank cash from the institution.

Portnoy Blasts SVB Business Model

Now officially a consultant to Penn Entertainment (NASDAQ: PENN) following that company’s $388 million February purchase of the 64% of Barstool it didn’t previously own, Portnoy believes Silicon Valley Bank took on too much risk.

“They were basically attracting risky companies, startups, crypto companies. That’s their wheelhouse. And you have more risk when you do that,” told Fox host Stuart Varney. “I’m glad people are getting their deposits back because I don’t think the average Joe Schmo knows what they’re getting involved in.”

There may something to Portnoy’s assertion that the bank wasn’t prioritizing adequate risk management. The bank’s 2023 proxy filing indicates Chief Risk Officer Laura Izurieta departed last October, but ceased performing that role in April 2022.

Additionally, the bank has been criticized for having a board of directors lacking investment banking experience. Meanwhile, a video surfaced earlier this week of Jay Ersapah, head of financial risk management at SVB’s UK branch, boasting about the company’s Pride Month celebrations and its blog dedicated to LGBTQ+ youth, stoking criticism SVB’s priorities were misplaced prior to its collapse.

SVB Woke to Broke?

Perhaps surprisingly given his penchant for rankling those on the left and the right, Portnoy didn’t address allegations SVB’s “woke” agenda had a hand in the bank’s demise, but some market observers and political pundits on the right argue the bank did stray from its core missions of taking deposits, making loans and effectively managing risk.

A so-called fact checker for the New York Times reported that it wasn’t the bank’s diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) agenda that contributed to its downfall. However, the article doesn’t mention the bank’s 2022 pledge to allocate $5 billion to sustainable finance causes nor does it highlight SVB’s $73.45 million in donations to Black Lives Matter and other social justice groups.

The Times article also fails to mention an August 2020 report from the bank in which CEO Greg Becker boasts about two-thirds of the company’s staff meeting diversity criteria and its matching programs dedicated to “pandemic response, social justice, sustainability, and supporting women, Black and Latinx emerging talent, and other underrepresented groups.”

“Latinx” is vilified in much the Latino community with polls suggesting they view it as woke vernacular and they much prefer ethnic terms such as Hispanic, Latino or those identifying specific countries. For example, Colombian-American or Mexican-American are highly preferred over Latinx.

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