Welcome to issue 49 of Credit Insurance News Digest, 20 January 2015
This issue is kindly sponsored by Nexus CIFS.

Credit Insurance News and Reports
Rising EMEA insolvencies could spark trade credit rate increases in 2015. Commercial Risk Europe has published an article, 'Rising EMEA insolvencies could spark trade credit rate increase in 2015', which reports that Marsh has warned that although the trade credit insurance market remains generally soft, a growing number of insolvencies and defaults across Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) could see rates rise for many insureds in 2015. Tim Smith, Managing Director in Marsh's International Trade Credit Practice, commented: "Rising rates are symptomatic of the trade credit insurance market's growing unease at the number of insolvencies and defaults across EMEA . . . Claims are continuing to increase across the board, particularly in Africa and Eastern Europe, and we expect more losses for the remainder of 2014. Insurers are closely monitoring key sectors, such as IT and retail." To view the article on Commercial Risk Europe's website go to http://www.commercialriskeurope.com/cre/3870/56/Rising-EMEA-insolvencies-could-spark-trade-credit-rate-increase-in-2015-warns-Marsh/.

The Head of the ABI stresses the "vital" role that credit insurance plays in protecting UK businesses. The recent failure of several UK household names (USC, CityLink, Bank Fashion) has prompted Huw Evans, Deputy Director General at the ABI, to stress "the vital role" trade credit insurers play in protecting their customers from the financial stress of sudden or unexpected insolvency. He commented in a recent news release: "Credit insurers are providing cover for millions of pounds worth of goods and services supplied on credit to these companies. Without this insurance in place, many more companies would be starting 2015 with large financial losses and potentially many more job losses." To view the ABI's news release go to https://www.abi.org.uk/News/News-updates/2015/01/USC-gives-notice-to-appoint-receivers-ABI-comments-on-latest-business-failures-of-household-names.

US companies are not significant purchasers of credit insurance, compared with European companies. Why is that? Global Finance has published an article in which Jochen Dümler, president and chief executive officer of insurer Euler Hermes North America, takes part in a Q & A session which examines the global trade credit insurance market and Euler Hermes' response to current challenges. In response to the question: 'US companies are not significant purchasers of credit insurance, compared with European companies. Why is that?', Mr Dümler comments: "That is the golden question. If I knew the answer to that, I would push the button and business would explode. The US market is, at maximum, 10% of what we find in Europe. European companies know about trade credit insurance. In the US, many companies don’t know what it is. We think it’s [also] a cultural issue. US entrepreneurs are less willing to insure: They are bigger risk-takers." To view the full article on Global Finance's website go to http://www.gfmag.com/magazine/january-2015/deciphering-good-risk.
*Why is credit insurance so less popular in the US? We would welcome your views on this in our LinkedIn discussion - https://www.linkedin.com/groups?home=&gid=5187557.*

Euler Hermes launches a new collections app. Euler Hermes has launched a new app that assesses the complexity of collecting debt in more than 40 of the countries  where the Group is present. The app, 'Land of Payment', for Apple and Android tablets and smartphones provides in-depth data about collection practices around the world, including local payment cultures and legal and insolvency proceedings. Features include: an animated Land of Payment introduction, 43 country collection profiles, an interactive map describing country-based collection complexity, the facility to connect directly with Euler Hermes Collections and share content via e-mail and social networks and offline management of personal libraries. The app is available as a free download via the Apple App Store or from Google Play. For more information go to http://www.eulerhermes.com/Debt-Collection/Land-of-payment/Pages/land-of-payment.aspx.

How relevant is credit insurance to a business? Gulf Business has published an article, 'How relevant is credit insurance to a business?' in which Gregory Le Henand, GCC country manager at Coface, stresses that in an the increasingly competitive and risky business environment in the Gulf, where currently "80% of companies are dealing with unpaid invoices and this situation is responsible for 25% of companies’ closure in the region", credit insurance is a vital business development tool through which companies take advantage of a comprehensive solution covering the three core elements of their trade cycle: information, protection and collection. He also advises that out of the €8 billion of credit insurance premiums paid worldwide annually, 50% is paid back to the insured in form of claim indemnification To view the full article on GulfBusiness.com go to http://gulfbusiness.com/2015/01/relevant-credit-insurance-business/#.VLO5ECusV8E.

Marsh warns of growing political risk in 2015 and beyond. Marsh has released its Political Risk Map 2015 and report which advises that rising geopolitical tensions and political violence are exacerbating political risks. Among the key findings of the report is the possible impact of falling oil prices on oil dependent countries, with Angola, Chad, Equatorial Guinea, Iran and Venezuela classed as being at severe risk of further deterioration in their political risk profiles. Looking ahead, the report also forewarns that 2017 is likely to be a pivotal year for political risks as a number of international elections are scheduled. In addition to a new US president taking office in January that year, and a possible referendum on the UK EU membership, 2017 will see elections in France, Germany, Hong Kong, Iran and South Korea among other. To login to read the full report go to http://uk.marsh.com/default.aspx?tabid=12708&ID=43351. (Registration for new subscribers is complementary).

Euler Hermes launches a Collection Complexity index and analysis of 44 countries around the globe. Euler Hermes has published a new report, 'The Good, The Bad and The Ugly' which provides an analysis and comparison of the differing levels of complexity encountered when collecting around the world. The report finds that Sweden, Germany and Austria rank amongst the least complex countries when it comes to debt collection, while Russia, the UAE and Saudi Arabia are still lagging behind when it comes to simplifying the life of companies trying to recover payments. To view the full report go to http://www.eulerhermes.com/mediacenter/Lists/mediacenter-documents/Economic-Outlook-International-Debt-Collection-1213-dec14.pdf.
An infographic of Country Collection Complexity ratings in 2014 in which countries are grouped and colour coded according to complexity of debt collection is also available (see: http://www.eulerhermes.com/mediacenter/Lists/mediacenter-documents/Infographic-country-collection-complexity-ratings-Dec2014.pdf, as is a YouTube video - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xYS8qaNrUaU.

New EDC insurance product allows small Canadian companies to insure their foreign sales in minutes. Export Development Canada (EDC) has announced that it has introduced a new online version of its credit insurance product that will allow Canadian companies to insure their sales to US or foreign buyers in minutes. Trade Protect is designed specifically for small businesses, covering sales to foreign buyers up to a value of CAD 350K. Canadian companies can choose to cover sales for payment terms of 90 or 180 days. In the case where the payment is not received by the foreign buyer, EDC will pay the Canadian exporter 90% of the invoice value and then seek payment directly from the foreign buyer. If EDC recovers the payment, it pays out the final 10% back to the Canadian company. To view EDC's news release go to http://www.edc.ca/EN/About-Us/News-Room/News-Releases/Pages/trade-protect.aspx.

AIG discusses the emergence of products that embed state-of-the-art technology into client's credit risk strategy. AIG has published an article, 'Increased role of technology in credit management' which advises that the trade credit insurance market-place is seeing the increasing emergence of products that embed a strong credit management function into the heart of an insured’s credit risk strategy by using state-of-the-art technology. According to Stuart Lawson, Managing Director of Aon Trade Credit UK: “Risk protection will always be a core driver behind the use of credit insurance. But another, which is becoming just as important, is in enabling insureds to really take ownership of building a robust credit management function as a core stratagem, complemented by a strong IT platform/ERM tool and, of course, trade credit insurance. Without doubt, more large companies are seeing the benefit of this approach, and the message seems to be percolating down to the SME sector.” To view the full article go to http://www.aig.co.uk/chartis/internet/uk/eni/AIG_ITS_Article_3-Credit_Management-FINAL_tcm2538-652532.pdf.

QBE opens up trade credit lines in MENA region. QBE has announced that it is now offering trade credit insurance through its Dubai branch to companies based in the MENA region. QBE will be working in partnership with Dubai National Insurance & Reinsurance Company, among others, and policies will be managed directly through specialised Trade Credit Brokers. Khalil Eid, General Manager of QBE’s Dubai operations says: “We’re delighted to enhance our growing product range. The addition of trade credit insurance reflects the vibrant trading environment of this region and its growing connections with world trade.” Click here to view QBE's news release.

Coface obtains a credit insurance license in Morocco. Coface has announced that it has now obtained its license for insurance and reinsurance activities from the regulatory authorities. This means that Coface can directly offer its credit insurance solutions, collection and information services to Moroccan companies. "Morocco is at the heart of our regional ambitions. In a market with high potential, this new license will allow us to be even closer to our customers," commented Jean-Marc Pillu, CEO of Coface. Coface has been present in Morocco since 2007. To view Coface's news release go to http://www.coface.com/News-Publications/News/Coface-obtains-credit-insurance-license-in-Morocco-and-strengthens-its-leading-position-in-Africa.

Allied World announces in-house trade credit insurance platform. Following its acquisition of Latin American Underwriters Holdings Ltd (LAU), Allied World Assurance Company Holdings, AG has announced the launch of its in-house trade credit and political risk insurance platform offering short- and medium-term credit and political risk insurance with limits up to $25 million per obligator/guarantor, and for credit terms of up to five years. LAU has underwritten trade credit insurance and political risk coverages solely for Allied World since 2010, and underwrote $28.5 million of gross premiums in 2013. As part of the acquisition, LAU’s underwriting teams, comprising seven staff in the US and London, have joined Allied World. The group will be managed by Todd Germano, Executive Vice President of Allied World. To view Allied World's news release go to http://www.snl.com/IRWebLinkX/file.aspx?IID=4078260&FID=26928489.

Nexus CIFS announces three new participants to its underwriting programme. CIFS has finalised its 2015 underwriting programme and has announced three new participants: Amlin syndicate 2001, Liberty Mutual Insurance Europe (LMIE) and Barbican syndicate 1955. The whole turnover facility is still led by Liberty syndicate 4472 and CIFS continues to operate as a Lloyd’s coverholder. CIFS’ single situation credit policies continue to be underwritten exclusively in the Lloyd’s market, with Liberty 4472, Amlin 2001 and Barbican 1955 providing capacity to its dedicated division headed by James Steele-Perkins, which for 2015 has an increased line size of $15 million per policy. To view CIFS' news release go to http://www.creditindemnity.com/news-and-comment/detail/cifs-underwriting-gains-lmie-support.

Marsh acquires Belgian trade credit broker. Marsh has announced that it has acquired Belgian trade credit broker Trade Insure. From 2015, the combined entity will trade under the name Marsh Trade Insure and will include all of Marsh's current trade credit team in Belgium as well as Trade Credit Insure's current team. Henri Stayaert, CEO of Marsh Belgium and Luxembourg, commented: "The combination of Trade Insure's broad Belgian client base with Marsh's regional and global capabilities will enable us to deliver an unparalleled range of solutions to clients in Belgium and abroad at a time when many of them are looking for the protection that trade credit insurance can offer." For Marsh's news release go to http://uk.marsh.com/default.aspx?tabid=1572&ID=43433.

Coface’s Massimo Falcioni examines the future of credit insurance in the GCC. Coface’s Head of Middle Eastern Countries, Massimo Falcioni, is featured in a recent article in Trade and Export Middle East in which he advises that credit insurance is still in its infancy in the GCC (less than 0.006% of eligible transactions are protected by any type of credit insurance). However, he stresses that Coface is working to educate companies on alternative credit risk management solutions, and credit insurance is quickly gaining traction in the region. He predicts that the industry will reach US$70 million in gross written premiums in 2015, with an average industry loss ratio of approximately 50%. To view Trade and Export Middle East's article go to http://www.tradeandexportme.com/2014/12/trade-credit-insurance/.

Markel awarded regulatory approval for Dubai office. Markel International has announced that it has been granted regulatory approval by the Dubai Financial Services Authority to operate within the Dubai International Financial Centre. The Markel trade credit operation in Dubai specialises in writing business from around the region and offers non-payment credit and contract frustration covers, including excess-of-loss multi-obligor and ground-up specific obligor policies, with emphasis on delivering specialist solutions including trade finance products and sovereign default/contract frustration solutions. Markel advises that opportunities in other business lines will be reviewed in due course. Leroy Almeida will head up the Dubai office. To view Markel's news release go to http://www.markelinternational.com/intl/news/2015/Markel-awarded-regulatory-approval-for-Dubai-office/.

Atradius predicts an economic rebound in Mexico. Atradius' latest Country Report on Mexico advises that in 2013 and the first half of 2014 the Mexican economy suffered from sluggish domestic demand, leading to low growth rates of just 1.1% in 2013 and 1.7% in H1 of 2014. However, since H2 of 2014 the economic performance has picked up again, benefiting from higher US growth, accommodative monetary and fiscal policies (and the passing of some major structural reforms in the telecommunications, energy, fiscal, and finance sectors). As a result, Atradius predicts that Mexico's GDP will grow 3.6% in 2015, but cautions that Mexico’s economy is highly dependent on oil and closely linked to the business cycle in the US, which accounts for 79% of exports. To Atradius' full report go to http://global.atradius.com/images/stories/CountryReports/Mexico_Jan_2015.pdf.

AU Group examines credit insurance in Russia. AU Group has published an article, 'Overview of the credit risk and the credit insurance market in Russia', which reports that compared to trade credit insurance, factoring (especially recourse factoring) is well developed in Russia. However, there is increasing competition between factoring and trade credit insurance companies and between credit insurers, with Atradius, Coface and Euler Hermes (all of whom are present in Russia) competing with the Russian players Ingo-ONDD (a joint venture with the Belgian Credimundi), Soglasie and Exiar, the Russian state owned export credit agency. To view AU Group's article go to http://www.au-group.com/overview-credit-risk-credit-insurance-market-russia.html.

Coface's Panorama report focuses on Latin America. Coface warns that as Latin America's recent strong economic performance was thanks to China’s rapid growth, now that "Chinese activity has lost its rhythm" there will be an inevitable consequence on economic growth. As a result, Coface advises that the region's GDP is expected to grow by 1.3% in 2014 and by 2% in 2015 - much lower than in previous years - and the general outlook for Latin America is between medium and high risk. The best positioned country in Latin America is Chile, which occupies the 49th position in a worldwide ranking of 144 countries. All other countries of the region are ranked lower. To view the Panorama go to http://www.coface.com/News-Publications/Publications/Panorama-LATAM-Growth-picking-up-at-countries-of-Pacific.

Euler Hermes predicts that US exports will grow by US$88 billion in 2015. Euler Hermes has advised that it expects US exports to grow by $88 billion or 5% in 2015, despite tepid global GDP growth. According to the company’s latest Economic Insight report, the US’s biggest export gains in 2015 will come from Canada, China and Mexico, with strong export increases also to smaller countries in Asia, Latin America and the Middle East. Gains will primarily come from the agrifood, chemicals, energy and mechanical sectors, while textiles and ferrous metals show the smallest increases as the US has become a much smaller player globally within these industries. In addition, Euler Hermes advises that as US energy companies are expected to start exporting natural gas globally by the end of 2015, revenues from this sector could be significant, growing from $16 billion in 2012 to $42 billion in 2040 or nearly 1% of GDP. To view Euler Hermes' news release - with a link to the full report - go to http://www.eulerhermes.com/mediacenter/news/Pages/press-release-US-export-economic-insight.aspx.

Atradius finds that India is a large market with high growth potential. Atradius' latest Country Report advises that India’s real economic growth is expected to be 6.0% in 2014 and to reach 6.5% in 2015. However, this is still far below the 9% regarded as the long-term potential growth rate, and Atradius warns that unless the government does its part by adopting more radical reforms, a return to the 9% annual growth rate that India briefly enjoyed before the financial crisis is hard to imagine. Overall, Chemicals/Pharma, Food, Paper and the Service sector have the best outlook, while both construction and construction materials sectors seem set to perform poorly. To view Atradius' Country Report go to http://global.atradius.com/images/stories/CountryReports/CR_India_January_2015.pdf.

Euler Hermes finds both positives and negatives in its latest study on Germany’s textile industry. A new report from Euler Hermes advises that in addition to being highly weather-dependent, the fast-growing German textile retail trade has struggled for years with very low profit margins and increasingly fierce competition from online trade. There are also two different sides to textile production. While many manufacturers have successfully changed their business model and now specialize in niche markets, others are still facing strong Asian competition and the resulting price wars. At the same time they are being forced to market up to 12 collections per year to keep up with fast-moving consumer trends. To view Euler Hermes' news release go to http://www.eulerhermes.com/mediacenter/news/Pages/press-release-Euler-Hermes-Online-trade-fast-fashion-are-biggest-risks-Germany-textile-industry.aspx.

Cheap Oil. Good news - for most. Atradius has published a new report, 'Cheap Oil. Good news - for most', which reports that as a result on increasing oil supply, the oil price has fallen by about 40% in recent months. While overall, the global economy is set to benefit, especially oil importing nations such as Europe and Asia, oil exporting countries such as Brazil, Russia and the Middle East will experience pressure on their income. Sector wise, energy consuming sectors such as chemicals, agriculture and transport will benefit, while oil producers stand to lose from the lower price. To view Atradius' report go to http://global.atradius.com/images/stories/economic%20research/Atradius_Economic_Research-Cheap_oil_Dec(1).pdf.

Congratulations to . . .
 has been awarded ‘Best Provider of Trade Credit Insurance’ by CFO Innovation Asia. This is the second consecutive time that Coface has won in this catagory. To view Coface's news release go to http://www.coface.com.au/News-Economic-Studies/News/Coface-is-awarded-Best-Provider-of-Trade-Credit-Insurance-by-CFO-Innovation-Asia-for-the-second-time-in-a-row.

And Finally: The impact of supermarket wars . . . 
Readers attention is drawn to the new report issued by Begbies Traynor - see 'Business Information' below - which advises that the current UK supermarket price war may force food suppliers to go bust and warns that more than 100 of 1410 ‘Significantly’ distressed food and beverage suppliers could fall into administration before the year is up. This concern was also raised last month, when Atradius was quoted in The Telegraph warning that supermarkets efforts to cut costs could lead to a situation of extended credit terms combined with interest rate increases which could lead to widespread failures. To view The Telegraphs' article go to http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/retailandconsumer/11314806/Cuts-threaten-survival-of-supermarket-suppliers.html.

Industry Events, Offers and Training
The future of the UK insurance sector - growth, competitiveness and regulation. 22 January 2015. Central London.
Attendees at this conference will consider the future of the UK's insurance industry, and key challenges ahead for developing growth, stability and competitiveness across the sector. The discussion is timed to consider next steps for implementing Government's UK insurance growth action plan - which sets out wide-ranging proposals to develop the sector's contribution to the UK economy - and will also bring out latest thinking on the industry’s regulatory framework in light of forthcoming developments, particularly preparation for the implementation of Solvency II. Guests of Honour include Paul Fisher, Acting Executive Director of Insurance, Prudential Regulation Authority and Frank Carson, Head of Insurance and Savings, HM Treasury. Click here for more information, and to book your place use the following link.

The 19th Coface Country Risk Conference. 27 January 2015. Carrousel du Louvre, Paris.
Every year in January Coface organises a conference on the worldwide evolution of Country risk gathering more than 1,200 participants. Its ambition is to help those involved in international trade -whether they are CEOs, commercial directors or credit managers- to make informed business or investment decisions. It can also help businesses refine their strategies to address promising new markets while better understanding the related risks. For its 19th conference, Coface is bringing together leading specialists from the world of finance, research and business to review the past year, debate the major trends shaping the world´s economy and shed light on the main economic issues for 2015. For more information and to register go to https://countryriskconference.com/.

6th Annual West Africa Trade & Export Finance Conference, 4 - 5 February 2015. Lagos, Nigeria.
This two-day event will bring together delegates from corporate, banking and financial services organisations to discuss key market issues within agribusiness, hard commodities, risk mitigation and infrastructural development. Specialist speakers will engage with high level delegates through specific transaction case studies, roundtable discussions, onstage interviews, and live question and answer sessions. A 15% discount is available for Credit Insurance News Digest readers, please quote CIN15. Click here for more information.

The ICM British Credit Awards 2014, 11 February 2015 at The Brewery, London.
ICM British Credit Awards, the recognised standard in the credit and collections industry, take place on 11 February 2015 at the Brewery in London. The Awards bring a focus to the credit industry with awards covering the different aspects of credit from consumer and commercial lending to credit insurance, use of technology and business information. To book your place at this most prestigious event or to find out more, visit www.ICMBritishCreditAwards.com.

11th Annual India Trade & Export Finance Conference, 12 February 2015. Mumbai, India.
Now in its 11th year and recognised as the conference of choice for the region’s trade finance community, the conference looks set to welcome over 250 high-level business leaders keen to discuss the most relevant issues affecting both domestic and international players. The conference format will allow for open discussion between delegates and speakers, panel debates, in depth case studies, live interviews and ample networking opportunities throughout. A 15% discount is available for Credit Insurance News Digest readers, please quote CIN15. Click here for more information.

Mena Trade Finance Week 2015, 16-18 February. Dubai, UAE.
Building on its strong presence in the Middle East for more than a decade, GTR’s flagship event for the region has now evolved into GTR Mena Trade Finance Week 2015. Now in its 12th year, the conference will welcome government heads and representatives from leading local and global businesses, as well as financial institutions, agencies and various other supporting sectors from across the trade finance community. A 15% discount is available for Credit Insurance News Digest readers, please quote CIN15. Click here for more information.

8th Annual Russia & CIS Trade & Export Finance Conference, 17 February 2015. Moscow, Russia.
As one of GTR’s most rapidly growing conferences, the event is now established as the largest of its kind and the only place to meet with the region’s primary business leaders and trade finance specialists. With recent sanctions raising many questions over future trade and exports flowing in and out of Russia, this will be the prime opportunity to obtain an up to date assessment of the current climate, while building key connections with those high level decision makers currently operating in the region. A 15% discount is available for Credit Insurance News Digest readers, please quote CIN15. Click here for more information.

25th Anniversary Insuring Export Credit & Political Risk, 24-25 February 2015. Millennium Hotel London Mayfair.
View the latest agenda. Insuring Export Credit and Political Risk is the leading event for the global political risk & export credit industry, attracting 300+ attendees from 35+ countries year after year. This year’s 25th Anniversary Convention will see 70+ industry leading speakers and panellists providing unique insight via 21 sessions on everything from current market developments to the macroeconomic and geopolitical risk climate, including concurrent streams on Insurance, Finance & Regulation and Managing Emerging Markets Risk. Other 25th Anniversary highlights include a Keynote Panel on the Russia-Ukraine Crisis, featuring a panel of former UK Ambassadors, and a Keynote Address on ISIS & Middle East Security from the BBC. 10% Discount available with VIP Code FKW52849CRN– Register here.

2nd Annual Australia Trade & Supply Chain Finance Conference, 2 - 4 March. Sydney, Australia.
Following 2014’s successful inaugural event, the conference will welcome Australia’s most influential leaders from across the trade finance industry to explore how best to increase the country’s export volumes. Discussions will also focus on developing and implementing successful supply chain finance structures. A 15% discount is available for Credit Insurance News Digest readers, please quote CIN15. Click here for more information.

15th Annual Global Receivables, Factoring & Supply Chain Finance Convention, 25-26 March 2015. Madrid.
The current receivables finance market is one of rapid development and change with new players, new product mixes and emerging secondary markets. Banks, factors and supply chain financiers that have flexible structural mechanisms and are able to respond quickly to new ideas, breakthroughs and newer demands, are more successful in competitive environments. In addition, the agile receivables finance player must be able to nimbly adjust to take advantage of emerging opportunities using strategic policy-making, intervention and market-friendly instruments. ‘RFIx Madrid 2015’ looks at how banks and independent factors, supply chain finance companies and other receivables financiers are responding to this challenge and what more they can do to successfully compete in an increasingly charged, expanding and integrated environment. Please contact: Malou Lindholm, Head of Events, BCR Publishing for more information E: ml@bcrpub.com - T: +44 (0)20 8466 6987 or go to http://www.rfixmadrid.com/.

The Credit Summit 2015, 26 March 2015. QEII Conference Centre, London.
The Credit Summit returns on 26 March 2015 to the QEII Conference Centre with more networking, more sessions, more delegates, more speakers and even more conference streams. We’re expanding - now with a total of 10 conferences, significant new audiences will be welcomed into the largest daytime credit industry event. With so many elements to the show the summit can be tailored to specific roles and sectors which means there is something at the event for everyone.  For more information and to register visit www.creditsummit.co.uk, call 020 7940 4835 or email events@credittoday.co.uk.

The Credit Today Awards 2015, 14 May 2015. Grosvenor House, London.
It is time to put forward your entries for the most prestigious credit industry awards scheme. Whether you work within the sphere of trade credit, or your organisation offers credit to businesses or consumers, there will be at least one category for you! So if you are looking for a promotion and want to demonstrate your achievements to senior management, your firm has made significant strides in the treatment of customers or your team has surpassed all expectations and deserve a public pat on the back, enter the Credit Today Awards, sponsored by Qualco. The event returns for its 16th year on 14 May 2015 and there is no hall of fame better to join than the most recognised and established industry awards. Our winners go on to reach even better heights once they take home a trophy. Make sure it’s you in 2015. View the categories and submit your entries by 6 February by visiting www.credittodayawards.co.uk. For more information call 020 7940 4835 or email events@credittoday.co.uk.

Understanding International Credit Reports: New training course. Various dates throughout 2014.
Graydon has announced that it is introducing a new training course, Understanding International Credit Reports. The one-day course will examine: report content by region (MENA, North America, Latin America, Africa, Europe, Far East & 'Tax Havens'), sources of data (Credit Agencies, Public Registries, Local Agent in undeveloped markets & Law Firms), credit scoring/ratings and pricing. The course costs £599 + VAT (a 10% discount is offered to Credit Insurance News Digest readers) and will be held on various dates throughout the year. For more information, please go to https://www.graydon.co.uk/understanding-international-credit-reports-CIN-members.

STECIS - The Trade Credit Insurance and Surety Academy has announced the dates for its training seminars in 2015.
The STECIS training seminars are two-day events and are highly interactive. They cover technical and practical knowledge on respectively Trade Credit Insurance and Surety Bonds, the theory of underwriting, in-depth analysis of industry developments, the terminology and the current market. In addition, participants are asked to review case studies. The BASIC training seminars are on 23 and 24 April 2015 and are open to participants with up to 3 years of work experience. The ADVANCED training seminars are set for 9 and 10 July 2015 and are suited to participants who have attended the basic training seminars and/or have at least 4 years of work experience. All training seminars will take place in The Hague, The Netherlands.
As the International Credit Insurance & Surety Association (ICISA) strongly endorses the STECIS training seminar programme, ICISA member companies receive a 5% discount on the total seminar fee. Companies (ICISA members and non-ICISA members) registering three or more participants to one training seminar, receive a 10% discount on the total seminar fee. For more information, please visit the website http://www.stecis.org or contact STECIS by sending an e-mail to info@stecis.org or call+31 20 528 5170.

Business Information: Latest Reports and Business Shorts
The UK’s food and beverage manufacturing industry has experienced a 92% increase in ‘Significant Distress. According to Begbies Traynor's Red Flag Alert research for Q4 2014, the UK's food retailing industry experienced one of the sharpest increases in ‘Significant’ financial distress of all sectors monitored - rising 58% to 4,552 struggling businesses compared to the same quarter last year. Meanwhile the worst performing sector was the UK’s food and beverage manufacturing industry, which witnessed a colossal 92% increase in ‘Significant Distress’, with 1,410 businesses now struggling to make ends meet, compared to 733 at the same stage last year. Overall, the statistics show that the UK’s SME food retailers and suppliers have been the worst casualties so far of the enduring price war between the UK’s supermarket giants, who have been slashing prices, while squeezing suppliers’ margins and elongating payment terms. Begbies Traynor predicts that more than 100 food and beverage suppliers will fall into administration before the year is up. To view Begbies Traynor's news release go to http://www.begbies-traynorgroup.com/news/business-health-statistics/supermarket-price-war-could-force-food-suppliers-to-go-bust.

Retailers optimistic for 2015. A snapshot survey carried out by the BRC has shown that UK retailers are optimistic about their fortunes in 2015, with many predicting an improvement in sales and increases in both investment and employment levels over the next twelve months. The survey showed that 76% of respondents reported that they expected their sales to improve in 2015 compared with 2014. Commenting on the survey results Helen Dickinson, BRC Director General, said: “It's great to see British retailers optimistic about the coming twelve months. After a number of years battling against strong economic headwinds and shaky consumer confidence, it seems as though retailers are set for some cheer in 2015." For more information go to http://www.brc.org.uk/brc_news.asp.

Britsh SMEs are thriving and growing, but with risks. New research by LV= Broker reveals that British SMEs had a strong 2014, with three quarters (75%) improving or maintaining their turnover in the past year compared to 2013. In addition, a new generation of SME owners has entered the market as 180,000 people started running their own business in the past twelve months. However, 4% of SMEs have no insurance cover in place, and 15% have no financial back-up plan in place if they were unable to trade for any reason. When asked why, 38% of the SMEs surveyed responded that they don't see the need for any contingency plan, 21% can't afford one and 10% say they plough all their profits back into their business. To view LV's news release go to http://www.lv.com/about-us/press/article/british-smes-thriving-and-growing.

BDO's High Street Sales Tracker shows that sales on the UK high street fell over the crucial Christmas period. Like-for-like sales at mid-market retailers slumped 1.4% year-on-year over December as shoppers were absent from the traditional last minute rush in the wake of November's 'Black Friday' shopping frenzy. The fashion sector was hit the hardest - down 3.1% for the month. Like-for-like sales decreased in the run-up to Christmas, slumping to 6.1% down year-on-year in the last week of the year. Sophie Bevan, Head of Retail and Wholesale at BDO LLP, said: "When like-for-like sales dropped by over 3% in the second week of December, retailers started to get nervous, resulting in early discounting." To view BDO's news release go to http://www.bdo.co.uk/press/retailers-left-counting-the-cost-after-december-sales-fall.

BCC Economic Survey: UK business bounces back in Q4, but will it last in the New Year? The BCC's latest Quarterly Economic Survey for Q4 201 shows that manufacturing and services firms in the UK reported strong domestic and export growth to end 2014. David Kern, Chief Economist at the BCC, commented: “The latest results support our view that UK growth will stabilise well above 2%, and that Britain’s medium-term economic growth will be slightly higher in the next few years than the recent OBR forecast predicted. However, many balances remain below the high levels seen earlier this year, indicating that the overall pace of GDP expansion is easing." To view the BCC's news release with a link to the full report go to http://www.britishchambers.org.uk/press-office/press-releases/bcc-economic-survey-business-bounces-back-in-q4,-but-will-it-last-in-the-new-year.html.

R3 advises that business distress levels are staying near record lows. According to the latest Business Distress Index from R3, levels of UK business growth remain near their record highs, with two-thirds (65%) of businesses reporting one or more key indicators of growth. 40% of businesses are reporting an increasing sales volume, 36% are investing in new equipment, 34% are seeing increased profits, and 38% of businesses are expanding. Meanwhile, business distress levels are staying near record lows. Larger businesses continue to show more positive signs of growth compared to their smaller counterparts, with 88% of larger businesses (250+ employees) experiencing one or more indicators of growth (up from 82% in June 2014), compared to 46% of sole traders (49% in June 2014). To view R3's news release go to https://www.r3.org.uk/index.cfm?page=1114&element=20326&refpage=1008.

UK Businesses see 30% increase in debt through late payment of bills in 2014. New research has reported that the amount of debt a typical UK business is facing through customers paying late or not at all is growing is growing at an alarming rate. In the fourth Quarter of 2014, Lovetts saw a 30% increase in the level of debt each of its customers is pursuing for payment through Letters Before Action, growing from £42,000 in Q4 2013 to £55,000 in Q4 2014. Charles Wilson, CEO of Lovetts says: "It's a national scandal that late payment has exacerbated to such a level. What we see is only the tip of the iceberg. Every business pays late, forcing their suppliers to pay late - it's a vicious cycle which can only be cracked by firms taking a harder line with their customers past and present and using their right to claim compensation currently utilised by only a minority of businesses." To view Lovetts' news release go to https://www.lovetts.co.uk/news/UK-Businesses-see-30-percent-increase-in-late-payment-in-2014.aspx.

The UK ended 2014 as one of the world's most optimistic economies. New research from the Grant Thornton International Business Report (IBR) has found that the UK ended 2014 as one of the world's most optimistic economies. Although UK business optimism declined on a quarterly basis (from 82% in Q3 2014 to 68% in Q4 2014), the UK still ranked among the top five international economies in Q4, just ahead of the US. Taken on a full-year rolling average, the UK remains within the top five most optimistic economies over the year, at 79% - the country's highest annual average in more than 10 years and well above the global average of 41%. Scott Barnes, CEO of Grant Thornton UK LLP, commented: "In many ways, 2014 was the first year since the 2008/09 financial crises where businesses felt they were really back on track." To view Grant Thornton's news release go to http://www.grant-thornton.co.uk/en/Media-Centre/News/2015/UK-businesses-enter-2015-on-optimistic-footing-though-global-uncertainty-weighs-on-resurgent-business-confidence-/.

Global Economic prospects to improve in 2015, but divergent trends pose downside risks. The World Bank's latest Global Economic Prospects report has advised that after growing by an estimated 2.6% in 2014, the global economy is projected to expand by 3% this year, 3.3% in 2016 and 3.2% in 2017. Developing countries grew by 4.4% in 2014 and are expected to edge up to 4.8% in 2015, strengthening to 5.3% and 5.4% in 2016 and 2017, respectively. However the report also stresses that underneath the fragile global recovery lie increasingly divergent trends with significant implications for global growth. Activity in the US and the UK is gathering momentum, but the recovery has been sputtering in the Euro Area and Japan. China, meanwhile, is undergoing a carefully managed slowdown. Risks to the outlook also remain tilted to the downside, due to persistently weak global trade, the possibility of financial market volatility as interest rates in major economies rise, the extent to which low oil prices strain balance sheets in oil-producing countries and the risk of a prolonged period of stagnation or deflation in the Euro Area or Japan. To view the World Bank's report go to http://www.worldbank.org/en/news/press-release/2015/01/13/global-economic-prospects-improve-2015-divergent-trends-pose-downside-risks.

QBE finds that 36% of UK businesses would expect to see increased trade credit risk within their own customer base if interest rates rise by up to 0.5%. Research conducted by QBE has revealed growing concern among UK businesses about the impact of Bank base rate movement, with over one in five (22%) citing interest rates as the aspect of the UK economic environment that is of most concern. Nearly one in four (23%) of respondents indicate that an increase in interest rates of up to 0.5% would start to have a tangible impact on their business while almost half (47%) report that an increase of up to 1.5% would put them under pressure. 48% said they would have to take a more cautious approach to spending and increase scrutiny on levels of working capital and cash flow. In addition, over one in three (36%) expect to see increased trade credit risk within their own customer base. Trevor Williams, Head of Credit & Surety Europe at QBE commented “Our research reveals a marked sensitivity among UK businesses to even the smallest increase in interest rates. In particular, companies expect their working capital and the creditworthiness of their customers to be impacted. . . Companies offering unsecured trade credit to their customers would be prudent to explore the benefits and protection that credit insurance can deliver.” Click here to view QBE's news release.

Career Opportunities:
Trade Credit Underwriting, Regional Lead. Singapore. Salary Dependent on Experience.
A global insurance group is looking for an experienced trade credit underwriter to lead their team of underwriters in the South-East Asia region. You will be responsible for managing client relationships at the C-Suite level and have experience interpreting and conveying detailed financial analysis, as well as mentoring more junior underwriters. Financial analysis experience in South East Asia is desirable as is experience managing a team. Contact: Guy.Turton@ipsgroupasia.com Ref: HH489115GT. (Please mention Credit Insurance News Digest when applying).

Credit Analyst, Lloyds insurer - Political and Credit Risk Underwriting team.£70,000 (negotiable, dependent on experience), and bonus and benefits.
Following continued growth, and significant capital injection, this Lloyds Insurer has identified the requirement for a permanent Credit Analyst to join their Political & Credit Risk Underwriting team. This is a fantastic opportunity to join the team in a growth phase which will see you establishing and growing the credit analysis function within the business. In addition you’ll gain exposure to a much wider array of transactions than you would within a traditional bank or ratings environment. Your key responsibility is to support the underwriters in making prudent and profitable underwriting decisions on a wide range of insurance policies. Typically these policies will be to support major banks’ and commodity trading houses’ transactions. The analysis required will include revolve around understanding the credit-worthiness of international obligors which could be public, private or financial institutions. Therefore you’ll need to review financials, country/sovereign risk, counterparty risk, deal structure, and various other categories on a worldwide basis. Although this role is within an insurer they are willing to consider candidates with financial / risk analytical skills specifically around company financials and complex financing structures from a banking environment or rating house an/or exposure to country / counterparty / sovereign risk analysis on financial transactions. The ability to read and understand foreign financials and excellent communication and relationship building skills is also required. Experience or understanding of credit / political risk insurance is desirable.
ESSENTIAL: It is key that you have experience of analysing medium to long term transactions and overseas obligors; the client is specifically not seeking individuals who have solely been involved in the P&L/Balance Sheet analysis of UK Domiciled organisations for a traditional credit insurer If the above describes you and you’re looking for a challenging, but rewarding career within the Lloyds Insurance Market then please don’t hesitate to apply. Salary of around £70,000 (negotiable, dependant on experience), bonus and benefits on offer. Get in touch: Kerren Leach | Senior Consultant | +44 207 092 3283 | kerren.leach@eamesconsulting.com. (Please mention Credit Insurance News Digest when applying).

Senior Underwriter, Trade Credit. Dubai.
This global credit insurer is looking to add a Senior Underwriter into their Dubai based team. This comes as part of continued growth in the region and looking to further maximise broker relationships. The role itself will see you carrying out all of the duties of a Commercial Underwriter including broker management, quotation on new and renewal business, liaison with Risk Underwriting to gain limit approval, presentation to end clients as well as all other typical duties. The client base focused upon will be mid-large corporate. There is a real opportunity for you to make your mark on the business here and build a strong reputation not only within the local, but also the global trade credit market. This would best suit someone who is presently working within one of the more mature trade credit environments, such as UK, Australia or North America, and is interested in experiencing the Tax Free ex-pat lifestyle that Dubai offers. Due to the multicultural environment within Dubai, fluent spoken & written English is essential. Along with a competitive, tax free, basic salary (£55k - £70k, USD90k – USD 110k, AUD110k – AUD135k) you’ll receive a strong company benefits, annual bonus as well as full relocation package. If you’re an experienced Commercial Underwriter or Trade Credit Broker who is keen to try something new then please don’t hesitate to contact me for a confidential discussion. Kerren Leach / Senior Consultant / +44 207 092 3283 /kerren.leach@eamesconsulting.com. (Please mention Credit Insurance News Digestwhen applying).

Partnership Expert - Account Manager.
If you have a background in working with large financial institutions and selling products/partnership deals to the banking world then this might be a great opportunity for you. One of the UK's biggest trade credit insurers is looking for a talented financial sales individual to come on board as part of the global growth footprint. Your main role will be sourcing and targeting clients to set up partnerships for them to up-sale your products and name in the market place. With a market place competitive base and commission structure this is a great opportunity for someone looking for a new challenge. Contact ben.wade@reedglobal.com for more details. (Please mention Credit Insurance News Digest when applying).

Account Manager, London.
An opportunity has arisen within a global trade credit insurer within their London office. You will be responsible for being the linchpin between the external brokers and internal underwriting team with a focus on the global client base. This is a great role that will suit looking to expand there knowledge of the global market and work for one of the leading names. Paying a market place competitive salary, please contact ben.wade@reedglobal.com for more information. (Please mention Credit Insurance News Digest when applying). 

Trade Credit Specialist, Singapore. Salary Dependent on Experience.
An international insurer is looking for a trade credit insurance specialist to support the development of their trade credit business in the region. You will be involved in market development, product innovation, policy wording and contract negotiations and will work very closely with underwriters in various markets to do so. An understanding of the financial markets and credit/surety insurance is essential, with legal experience also being highly advantageous. Contact: Guy.Turton@ipsgroupasia.com. Ref: IT488956GT. (EA Personnel Reg. no. R1435644). (Please mention Credit Insurance News Digest when applying).

New Appointments
Equinox Global has announced two appointments. Kully Ubhi has been appointed as a senior underwriter in its UK team and Jack Woodruff has joined Equinox as a senior credit analyst working with the UK team. Both will be based in the London office and will report to Mike Holley, Chief Executive.

QBE has advised that in support of its launch (see above) in the MENA region, it has appointed Manal Mefrej as Senior Underwriter, Trade Credit Dubai. Manal will be responsible for sourcing and analysing financial information to support risk decisions being made by QBE’s global trade credit practice that relate to companies across the MENA region. In addition she will be responsible for developing more extensive links with local brokers and companies. Manal joins from Euler Hermes.

About this issue's sponsor: Nexus CIFS.
Founded in 2000, Nexus CIFS is one of the UK’s leading trade credit insurers.

Since joining Nexus Underwriting Management, the largest independent Speciality Managing General Agency in the London market in 2013, Nexus CIFS has significantly expanded its risk and claims underwriting teams. The objective: to develop its service and insurance propositions without compromising its acknowledged market reputation for personal service and accessibility – the foundation of Nexus CIFS’ business and the engine of its growth.

It’s a strategy that appears to meet with policyholder approval. In a recent testimonial one Credit Manager said: “Nexus CIFS are so responsive to our unique commercial needs. I can’t recommend them highly enough.” While another commented: “...you can have a conversation with them – as I often do – late on a Friday afternoon. Their focus on the customer matches our own”.

Recognising the growing attractions of export-led business for UK plc, Nexus CIFS has invested in new information sources to facilitate more rapid and accurate responses for policyholders seeking to trade overseas. The company has also recently announced a senior hire in this area whose appointment brings Nexus CIFS a wealth of experience. And in a major departure a year ago the company established a Single Situation Credit and Political Risk Division which has had an immediate impact and diversified the product range available.

This ability to meet latent demand for innovative solutions to clients’ specific credit risk problems is seen as a major area for significant Nexus CIFS expansion. New products in the Nexus CIFS pipeline include a series of policies dedicated to specific industry sectors – building on the company’s successful relationship with the Timber Trade Federation - as well as a range of initiatives aimed at extending the reach and operational attractions of credit insurance.

With Nexus’ support the company is confident of extending its long-term track record of market outperformance and continuing to steadily increase market share.

Credit Insurance News Digests: Sponsorship
Sponsoring an issue of Credit Insurance News Digest is a great way to promote your company or brand to a committed audience of trade credit insurance professionals.
If you are interested in sponsoring an issue in 2015 see our sponsorship page for further information.
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Issue 49  

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