Silicon Valley Bancshares received an initial rating of "buy" from Alex. Brown & Sons Inc. analyst Joseph Morford, who also initiated coverage of eight other western banks and thrifts with "neutral" ratings.

The new coverage is part of the Baltimore firm's bid for advisory work in the California and western markets, where consolidation is expected to create investment banking opportunities. Known in banking circles for its East Coast focus, the firm last fall hired a former Merrill Lynch & Co. investment banker, Jean-Luc Servat, to staff a financial institutions group based in San Francisco.

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