英国第二季度企业破产数创新高

文章来源|ECONOMIA

根据英格兰和威尔士的破产服务数据,2019年第二季度,公司破产数量增至4321家,比2019年第一季度增长2.6%,比2018年同期增长11.4%。这是自2014年第一季度以来的最高破产水平。这一增长是由于债权人自愿清算的数量增加,尽管与2019年第一季度相比,政府的债务规模略有下降,但这仍是企业破产的一个重要特性。


虽然公司自愿和解程序(CVAs)继续受到媒体的关注,但CVAs的数量并没有显著增加,事实上,与去年同期相比,CVAs的数量略有下降。


毫无疑问,对英格兰和威尔士境内的许多公司来说,贸易环境是困难的。不同的行业将有各自不同的经济压力,但由于英国脱欧的不确定性,大多数企业的偿债能力受到影响。许多企业发现,他们无法应对英国退欧可能带来的不确定性,如果供应商或客户不愿签署长期合同,许多企业将无力偿还债务。


此外,那些在为脱欧作准备的公司(无论是通过囤货或改变策略应对脱欧前市场),随着脱欧不断的延期,也正在艰难应对这相当长一段时间内不断增加的支出。这些破产数据表明,对一些公司来说,为英国脱欧而制定的应急计划和支出很可能已经达到了它们的极限,对它们的现金流产生了重大影响,导致它们资不抵债,无法继续交易。


然而,英国脱欧不太可能是破产增加的唯一原因。由于许多商业街零售商过时的商业模式(在网上购物变得越来越普遍的市场上,他们背负着沉重的房租债务),零售等行业目前遭遇财务困难已有一段时间。同时一些知名度高的零售商想通过和解程序找到出路,但都失败了,导致清算清偿;而许多小零售商碰到类似的问题可能无法考虑和解程序,相反,不得不直接破产或清算。


鉴于某些债权人团体目前有质疑CVAs合法性的倾向,一些公司的未来仍不确定。如果法院最终决定CVAs的协商余地有限,那么对许多企业来说,通过CVA来拯救一家企业免于破产就更加不可行了,特别是对那些在寻求资产债务帮助的零售商。其结果是,一家债务无法清偿的公司将别无选择,只能进入破产管理或清算程序。在这种情况下,很有可能在不久的将来,英格兰和威尔士的破产管理机构和清算机构的数量不会大幅减少。



The breakdown: Q2 company insolvency statistics


According to the Insolvency Service figures for England and Wales, company insolvencies rose in the second quarter of 2019 to 4,321, 2.6% higher than the first quarter of 2019 and 11.4% higher than the same quarter in 2018. This represents the highest level of insolvencies since the first quarter of 2014. This increase is due to higher numbers of creditors’ voluntary liquidations and, whilst administrations dropped slightly compared to the first quarter of 2019, they remain a significant feature within corporate insolvencies. 


Whilst Company Voluntary Arrangements (CVAs) continue to receive much press attention, the number of CVAs is not increasing significantly and, in fact, is slightly lower now than it was in the same period last year. 


There is no doubt that the trading environment for many companies within England and Wales is difficult. Different industries will have their own different economic pressures but as uncertainty appears to be a significant problem for most businesses, it seems likely that Brexit is having its impact on the solvency of companies. Many businesses are finding that they cannot cope with the uncertainty of what Brexit may bring and if suppliers or customers are unwilling to commit to long-term arrangements, many businesses will struggle to stay solvent. 


In addition, those companies which have planned for Brexit and taken steps which have necessarily required additional, exceptional spending (whether by way of stockpiling or creating strategies to cope with what a post-Brexit market might look like), are now struggling to deal with that increased expenditure over a significant kperiod of time as the deadline for Brexit has continued to move from one date to the next. These Insolvency Service figures may well show that for some companies, the emergency planning and spending in anticipation of Brexit may have caught up with their bottom lines and impacted significantly on their cash flows and rendered them insolvent and unable to continue to trade. 


However, it is also worth bearing in mind that Brexit is unlikely to be the only reason for the increase in insolvencies. Sectors such as retail have been experiencing financial difficulties for some time now due to the outdated model of many high street retailers (having significant property liabilities in a market where on-line shopping is becoming more and more prevalent). Whilst some high profile retailers have explored CVAs in an attempt to find a way out of the problems caused by property liabilities, many of the CVAs have failed, leading to liquidations or administrations, and many of the smaller retailers with similar problems may be unable to consider CVAs and, instead, are having to proceed straight to administration or liquidation. 


Given the current appetite amongst certain groups of creditors to challenge the legality of CVAs, the future for some companies remains uncertain. If the Courts ultimately determine that CVAs, particularly those in the retail sector which seek to compromise significant property liabilities, are limited in what they can compromise and how they can compromise it, the option of a CVA to potentially save a business from insolvency is likely to be far less feasible for many businesses. The result is that a company with liabilities which it cannot discharge will be left with little option but to enter administration or liquidation. That being the case, there is a very real chance that there will not be a substantial decrease in the near future from the current number of administrations and liquidations in England and Wales. 


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