Insolvency specialists anxious as corporate failures dwindle

The decline of large collapses is causing concern among the UK’s largest
insolvency practices, which have large workforces to handle the necessarily rare

The latest corporate insolvency figures reveal that more than 20,000 UK
businesses entered into formal insolvency proceedings in 2006, an 11% rise on
the previous year. But there were few big business failures, and none as high
profile as recent collapses at
, Allders and Unwins.

‘There’s lots of money sloshing about,’ said Carolyn Swain, a partner in
Halliwells’ corporate recovery department.

‘Lots of people in business are looking to take up debt positions, to put in
funds. We’re unlikely to see big insolvencies hit the news in the near future.’

Practitioners may consider helping struggling businesses find new finances to
restructure rather than wait for formal work to come along, experts indicated.
The liquidity situation could change, however, meaning the return of large

‘The biggest accounting firms have suffered low corporate recovery growth in
recent years,’ Swain said.

Garry Wilson, who served as administrator at Leeds United and now works at
turnaround investors business Endless, said that liquidity had created a ‘new
solution’ for struggling businesses, and was great news for IPs in the longer

‘The nature of their work is changing,’ said Wilson. ‘London has become the
centre for the distressed debt market. Those fixated on formal proceedings don’t
see the new solution.’

Figures from Experian revealed that there were 2,000 more business failures
in 2006 than in 2005.

The north east, City of London and Northern Ireland all saw a decrease in
failures, however London, Wales and Scotland saw double-digit increases.

Retail, printing paper & packaging and business services were the largest
struggling sectors.

Recent businesses entering into administration include
Music Zone and the Greeting Card
Group, which put 3,500 jobs at risk.

KPMG’s Mark Orton and
Allan Graham acted as administrators and sold parcel delivery business Amtrak,
which has a turnover of £80m and employs 1,000 people.

MG Rover collapsed in 2005, leading to the loss of thousands of jobs in the
Midlands where it was based. PricewaterhouseCoopers handled the administration,
and the demise of the company led to a bonanza for accounting firms as all five
top firms advised or helped investigate the problems that had arisen.

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