Wall Street banks to deposit $30bn into First Republic

The largest US banks have banded together to deposit $30bn into First Republic Bank in an attempt to bolster its finances and contain the fallout from the collapse of two big lenders in the past week.

JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Citigroup and Wells Fargo will each deposit $5bn into First Republic, a California-based lender. Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley will put in $2.5bn apiece while BNY Mellon, PNC Bank, State Street, Truist and US Bank are depositing $1bn each.

“The actions of America’s largest banks reflect their confidence in the country’s banking system. Together, we are deploying our financial strength and liquidity into the larger system, where it is needed the most,” the banks said in a statement on Thursday.

JPMorgan, an adviser to First Republic, had been sounding out rival lenders about assembling an industry-backed solution for First Republic. The lender made calls on Wednesday night to several Wall Street banks to find funding, according to two people familiar with the matter.

The banks had come under pressure from the government to help First Republic, after its shares plunged and its debt rating was downgraded after the failure of Silicon Valley Bank, according to a person involved in the talks.

In a statement, US Treasury secretary Janet Yellen, Federal Reserve chair Jay Powell and senior regulators said: “This show of support by a group of large banks is most welcome, and demonstrates the resilience of the banking system.”

The Fed also added that “as always . . . it stands ready to provide liquidity through the discount window to all eligible institutions”.

First Republic shares, which have fallen 66 per cent in the past week, were up by more than 11 per cent following the announcement.

To strengthen its financial position the bank took funding from the Fed and JPMorgan on Sunday, which gave it $70bn of unused liquidity, excluding funds available from the new federal Bank Term Funding Program.

First Republic has struggled to restore confidence among investors after the collapse of SVB on Friday, followed by Signature Bank on Sunday. Its share price is down more than 70 per cent since the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation stepped in to take over SVB, sparking fears that contagion would spread to other regional lenders.

On Tuesday, Moody’s placed all its long-term ratings for First Republic on watch for a downgrade, saying they reflected the bank’s reliance on uninsured deposits and unrealised losses on held-to-maturity securities. Fitch and S&P Global slashed First Republic’s credit rating on Wednesday.

First Republic’s difficulties come despite reassurance from President Joe Biden that regulators would do “whatever is needed” to protect depositors and emergency funding measures from the US government to boost liquidity.

This post was originally published on Financial Times

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