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JPMorgan hires former SVB exec to lend to Silicon Valley startups

JPMorgan Chase (JPM) is turning to a top former Silicon Valley Bank executive for help lending to startups.

The nation's largest bank on Tuesday announced the hiring of John China, who spent 27 years working for Silicon Valley Bank and its parent company SVB Financial. Most recently he was president of SVB Capital, the parent company's venture capital unit.

Silicon Valley Bank was seized by regulators on March 10. Its parent company filed for bankruptcy one week later. SVB Capital had $9.5 billion in assets under management, according to a March 19 bankruptcy court filing.

China will co-head JPMorgan's innovation economy practice, which sits inside JPMorgan's commercial bank. He will be based in San Francisco, running the practice alongside current JPMorgan executive Melissa Smith, who is based in New York City.

"John and Melissa’s industry expertise and extensive experience will provide coast-to-coast leadership during this pivotal time for our clients," John Simmons, head of JPMorgan’s middle market commercial banking business, said in a Tuesday release.

File - People stand outside of an entrance to Silicon Valley Bank in Santa Clara, Calif., Friday, March 10, 2023. The collapse of Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank, and the bailout of First Republic, was a jolt for small businesses of all stripes, spurring many to scrutinize their banking services and mull whether or not they should make changes to ensure their money is safe. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File)
Silicon Valley Bank was seized on March 10. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File) (ASSOCIATED PRESS)

JPMorgan's innovation economy practice is seven years old and focuses on venture capital and startup lending for an array of technology businesses including life sciences, healthcare IT, and climate tech.

“The founders and investors who make up the innovation economy are tackling some of the biggest issues facing our world today. They’re creating jobs, technology, and opportunities that are uplifting communities and driving the global economy forward,” Simmons added.

Venture capital funding has dropped sharply thus far in 2023 as investors pull back amid higher interest rates and economic uncertainty.

JPMorgan said Tuesday that its recent acquisition of the bulk of operations of First Republic, a San Francisco lender seized by regulators on May 1, will also play a key role in its startup lending business. The regional bank served a number of affluent entrepreneurs and venture capitalists who are now JPMorgan clients.

The First Republic acquisition “is an opportunity for commercial banking to deepen our presence in high-growth markets,” a spokesperson for JPMorgan added.

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