Below is our initial take on recent bankruptcy-related developments:
On Thursday, Credit Suisse said it will borrow up to $54 billion from Switzerland's central bank to ease fears of a global banking crisis as signs of instability among U.S. regional banks continue. Credit Suisse is the first major global bank to be thrown an emergency lifeline since the 2008 financial crisis.
FDIC regulators have asked banks interested in acquiring failed lenders Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank to submit bids by March 17.
S&K Take: The destabilization of the banking sector has been the big news this week. We included a couple of stories here, although it could have been hundreds more. In the last 168 hours we have seen SVB and Signature succumb to distress—that was the end of last week. This week Credit Suisse has been in the news. Yesterday we learned about the First Republic bailout, and this morning we have the SVB bankruptcy filing, or at least the first wave of it. The FDIC and the banking sector itself have taken action to staunch the bleeding, although time will tell if it is enough.
Michael Wiles, a judge in the Southern District of New York, ruled in a court filing on March 15 that the $1 billion bid by Binance.US to purchase Voyager's assets should move forward. Voyager clients haven’t been able to access their crypto since bankruptcy was declared in July 2022.
S&K Take: Judge Wiles denied a stay pending appeal of his decision approving the Voyager sale to Binance. The US attorneys were seeking a second bite at the apple. Judge Wiles had some pretty curt words for the government, noting that they had mischaracterized some of the actions he had taken in the case and advanced straw man arguments, among other things. This allows the deal to progress, although Judge Wiles noted that it doesn’t prohibit further regulatory action. The Judge was very focused on trying to get assets back in the hands of customers, who have been without them for quite a long time. If the government still decides to continue the appeal, this opens the door to an equitable mootness argument down the road.
Bankrupt cryptocurrency exchange FTX transferred $2.2 billion to founder Sam Bankman-Fried through various entities, the firm's new management said.
S&K Take: Yes, you read that right. Billion. Not million. Billion. What was going on over there? The total is about $3.2 billion and includes a laundry list of massive payments. Former lead engineer Nishad Singh received $587 million from the company; co-founder Gary Wang received $246 million, and Caroline Ellison, former CEO of Alameda Research, received $6 million. Some of these amounts were used to purchase the luxury properties that have been described in the press previously, so they are redundant of those numbers, but still, these are staggering. SBF has also moved the Court to allow him the ability to access D&O insurance for his defense costs. In light of this, that request seems questionable at best. Typically Courts will grant access, particularly to Side A coverage, but this is just a visceral kick in the gut. Might change the calculus.
FDIC regulators have reportedly required any buyer of Signature to agree to give up all cryptocurrency business at the bank and will only accept bids from banks with an existing bank charter, prioritizing traditional lenders over private equity firms.
S&K Take: A lot of bank news, and a lot of crypto news today. So let’s end it with bank-related crypto news! The feds continue to be wildly skeptical of crypto, and understandably so. That being said, if the industry can get back on its feet and some reasonable regulatory regime can be implemented, there is no reason that it should be completely off limits.