Greater Bay Bancorp. said it has hired Roger Smith as president of its venture banking group.

The former chief executive officer of Silicon Valley Bank started in his new post last month. He is responsible for increasing the Palo Alto, Calif., bank's lending to high-tech businesses backed by venture capitalists.

"Nobody knows high-tech businesses, from a banker's point of view, as well as Roger Smith," said David Kalkbrenner, Greater Bay's president and CEO.

Mr. Smith, 56, was Silicon Valley's CEO for 10 years, beginning with the Santa Clara, Calif., bank's founding in 1983. He resigned when the bank was struggling with bad real estate loans. But he remained on the board of directors until 1994 and had a noncompete agreement with Silicon Valley, which expired last November.

Greater Bay, which has $1.1 billion of assets, has about 100 high-tech customers now, but it wants to rival $2.6 billion-asset Silicon Valley, which has more than 2,000, Mr. Smith said.

Greater Bay is "right in the middle of the high-tech center of the world," Mr. Smith said. "We would be remiss if we didn't serve" those companies.

Executives at Silicon Valley declined to comment.

Mr. Smith said that high-tech businesses, many of which are not yet profitable, will generate strong returns for Greater Bay because they bring in millions of dollars in deposits. Mr. Kalkbrenner said he hopes the bank will double the number of high-tech customers it serves in the next year.

Loans to high-tech companies are secured by intellectual property, such as rights to software programs or research used to develop drugs, Mr. Smith said.

The bank expects to take options to buy stock in customer companies, which typically go public or are bought by larger firms.

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