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4 May, 2023 12:30

US banking crisis deepens

PacWest is the latest American bank to see its stock plunge following the collapse of several rivals
US banking crisis deepens

Regional lender PacWest Bancorp has become the latest American bank to be caught up in the worst crisis in the sector since 2008. The bank has confirmed it is in talks with potential partners and investors about strategic options, following a 60% stock rout.

Shares in the bank nosedived in after-hours US trading on Wednesday over reports the Los Angeles-based lender was mulling a sale. PacWest’s shares were down as much as 48% in early trading on Thursday.

“The bank has not experienced out-of-the-ordinary deposit flows following the sale of First Republic Bank and other news,” PacWest stated on Wednesday. “Our cash and available liquidity remain solid and exceeded our uninsured deposits,” it added.

According to the lender, discussions with potential buyers and investors “are ongoing” and the company will continue “to evaluate all options to maximize shareholder value.” 

People familiar with the matter told Bloomberg that PacWest has been considering a breakup or a capital raise. A buyer would potentially have to book a big loss marking down some of the bank’s loans, sources said.

PacWest’s Wednesday selloff followed US Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell’s announcement that authorities were closer to containing the turmoil that has gripped the banking sector. Powell claimed that the government seizure and sale of struggling First Republic Bank to JPMorgan Chase was “an important step toward drawing a line under that period of severe stress” for regional lenders.

First Republic became the fourth US lender to collapse this year, following Silvergate Capital, Silicon Valley Bank, and Signature Bank.

Meanwhile, chief market analyst at KCM Trade, Tim Waterer, told Bloomberg that the Fed’s statement offers little in the way of confidence for the market. “Despite the best efforts by Jerome Powell to calm the market, there is nothing to suggest that the banking crisis is at an end,” he claimed.

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