BY Richard Summerfield
Following a period of relative calm in the corporate bankruptcy world, from 2010 onwards when corporate insolvencies flattened and then fell into decline, more and more companies now appear to be experiencing distress.
With the global economic crisis and recession of 2008 slowly disappearing from view, it seemed as if businesses were on better, more stable footing. However, there has been a recent resurgence in the number of corporate bankruptcies. Filings rose again in the second quarter of 2016, according to BankruptcyData.com's 'Q2 2016 Business Bankruptcy Filing Report'.
The report notes that the number of businesses filing for bankruptcy protection jumped 9 percent in the second quarter of the year compared to Q1. Equally, there was a 25 percent year-on-year climb compared to Q2 2015, up 7 percent compared to Q2 2014.
Up to June 2016, there has been an increase of 23 percent compared with the same period last year and a 4 percent jump on the same period in 2014. Furthermore, the average number of filings per day figure recorded in Q2 2016 is the highest since 2013.
Much of the financial difficulty experienced by public companies in the US can be attributed to the troubled and volatile energy sector. Energy focused companies accounted for the majority of public filings recorded in the first half of the year – 10 of the largest 15 bankruptcies came from the energy space. Over 80 percent of the $86bn in assets entering bankruptcy were from energy-related companies. In addition to a number of oil & gas companies filing for Chapter 11, every large publicly-traded pure-play coal company has now filed for bankruptcy.
The report suggests that the flow of companies applying for Chapter 11 protection is likely to continue, with more difficulty expected in the energy space. Elsewhere, the amount of high-yield debt raised during the 2009-2015 credit cycle was considerable. This could easily contribute to a new spike in bankruptcy filings in the future.