Silicon Valley Bank expects boost from British technology sector

Reuters

LONDON, May 22 (Reuters) - The head of specialist Californian lender Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) believes that the growth potential of technology start-ups in London could boost its British lending portfolio by up to 50 percent a year.

The British government is counting on entrepreneurial ventures being dreamed up in "Tech City" - London's version of U.S. technology hotbed Silicon Valley - to help to fuel the country's economic recovery.

It has launched a string of policies to help fledgeling technology businesses to secure the funding and expertise they need to grow inside Britain, rather than turn to more established venture capitalists in the United States or technology giants such as Yahoo!, taking jobs and potential tax revenue with them.

Greg Becker, the president and chief executive of SVB, which provides services ranging from cash management to trade finance and serves companies in sectors from clean technology to life sciences and premium wine, said that London's technology sector now offers significant growth opportunities for investors.

SVB opened a London branch in 2012 and has already made lending commitments worth about $1.5 billion, Becker said, adding that the bank believes its lending in Britain can grow by 40 to 50 percent a year for several years, based on the market opportunities it has seen.

"Because of the great universities here, great entrepreneurs are being formed, great companies are being formed," he said.

Speaking at a London event organised by SVB to give early and growth-stage firms a two-minute window to present their business to investors, Becker said that large corporates are now playing a bigger role in the start-up space, which should ease access to funding.

(Reporting by Clare Hutchison; Editing by David Goodman)

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