Welcome to issue 52 of Credit Insurance News Digest, 19 March 2015. This issue is kindly sponsored by Credendo Group.

Credit Insurance News and Reports
Recent construction failures highlight the 'vital' role of trade credit insurance. Following the news that construction companies GB Group Holdings Limited and GB Building Solutions Limited have gone into administration and the recent demise of Anglo Holt Construction, the Association of British Insurers (ABI) has stressed the importance of firms protecting themselves financially. Mark Shepherd, ABI Manager of General Insurance, commented that the failures, “which put in jeopardy a number of major construction schemes and projects, provide a stark reminder about the vital role trade credit insurers play in protecting businesses from the knock on effects that the unexpected insolvency of a trading partner can cause." He continued: “Trade credit insurers provided more than £11 million of cover for goods and services supplied on credit to GB Building Solutions Limited. This means their suppliers will not lose out through no fault of their own. Without this insurance in place, many more companies would be at risk of large financial losses." To view the ABI's news release go to https://www.abi.org.uk/News/News-updates/2015/03/ABI-responds-to-GB-Group-and-GB-Building-Solutions-Limited-administration.

The credit insurance evolution is massive, but misconceptions persist. The January issue of the National Association of Credit Management's magazine, Business Credit, reports that over the last 10 to 15 years, credit insurance has been one of the areas of the trade credit industry that has gone through the most significant changes. The article comments that there are now, "double or triple the amount of providers than a decade or so ago", which, coupled with increasingly sophisticated technology, has encouraged innovation, better customer service and more efficient solutions. However, despite increasing numbers of insurers, certain markets still represent opportunities. For example, with the caveat that "information on the use of credit insurance remains more anecdotal than statistical," the article advises that the credit insurance business in France and the UK is estimated to be at least double that of the US market. To view the January issue please go to http://www.nacm.org/business-credit-magazine/business-credit-magazine-online-alternative.html. (A subscription is required).

New product leverages the credit rating of AIG to access a more cost effective Excess Loss trade credit solution. Trade Finance Matters has published an article, 'Are There Insurance Alternatives to Standby LC facilities?', in which Alastair Malcolm, CEO of XS Reserve Limited, describes a new excess of loss product that he and AIG have devised, which enables companies to pay money monthly into an escrow account for a fixed term (the example of £30,000 over 36 months to total £1 million is given) instead of reserving for a bad debt or getting a standby facility. Then, if the contingent liability event occurs, the client can draw down the total money insured (e.g. £1 million) - even if it is required in the first month of the agreement. If there is no loss in three years, the lien is released and the client has their money back. "In essence, the client has leveraged the credit rating of AIG (single A) to access a more cost effective Excess Loss trade credit solution rather than ground up cover, while still benefiting from immediate credit risk mitigation." To view the full article on Trade Finance Matter's website go to https://spendmatters.com/tfmatters/are-there-insurance-alternatives-to-standby-lc-facilities/.

Asia is seen as top area for growth by the trade credit insurance industry. Members of the International Credit Insurance & Surety Association (ICISA) have confirmed that they regard China’s policy stimulus for trade credit insurance, the increased role for export credit insurance and the liberalised export credit market in conjunction with an increasing SME involvement as key opportunities for the credit insurance industry in Asia for in 2015. But the members also identified potential concerns for the industry in the region. According to Richard Wulff, Group General Manager Credit & Surety at QBE and Chair of the Asia Committee, three issues in particular need extra attention: "the importance of building deeper/different distribution networks to serve a much larger part of the market and the necessity to adapt to local customs, not necessarily copying Western-style wordings and way of working. Also the issue of fraud remains on the table." Mr Wulff added that, "developing a different style of policy underwriting as well as building deep recovery networks might be a key to this." To view ICISA's news release go to http://www.icisa.org/press-releases/1561/.

The demise of Phones4u - Is it time you reviewed your Credit Insurance? Scott Liddle, Business Development Manager at Reynolds Trade Credit, has contributed an article to Financial Director's Forum in which he advises that although more than £100 million is expected to be available to pay secured creditors of Phones4U, investors and unsecured creditors stand to lose hundreds of millions of pounds. As a result, at least one company, Crewe based Intercity Express, has already been dragged under by the failure of the Phones4u chain: "the liquidators appointed, said the failure had a “catastrophic” impact on the business." However, Scott points out that as the credit insurance market viewed Phones4u in a positive light, for companies with credit insurance the outlook is much brighter and credit insurers will now be compensating many key suppliers. In one instance, Scott notes that "one major insurer is committed to a very significant figure." To view the article on the Financial Director's Forum website go to http://www.financialdirectorsforum.com/expert-opinion/the-demise-of-phones4u-is-it-time-you-reviewed-your-credit-insurance.

Africa’s trade evolution will open the door for early entrants to the trade credit insurance market. Commercial Risk Europe has published an article, 'Creditable progress', which reports that Africa’s trade evolution will open the door for early entrants to the trade credit insurance market. Paul Jooste, Commercial Director at Coface, commented that competition in South Africa is strong: “Your typical country market for credit insurance is dominated by three players [CGI, Lombards Insurance (part of Hollard Insurance) and Credit Insurance Solutions (part of RMB Structured Finance)] with a number of smaller players operating on the fringes.” Mr Jooste suggests that South Africa will eventually emulate a market such as Turkey, where the dominant domestic player accounts for about 35% of the market. To view the article on Commercial Risk Europe's website go to http://www.commercialriskeurope.com/cre/4045/70/Creditable-progress/.

"Where big sums of money are involved, trust is just not enough". LondonLovesBusiness.com has published an interview with Johnathan Newman, whose coconut-water start-up, Chi, is growing at 250% a year. In answer to the question about his most valuable business lesson so far, Mr Newman describes how, in the early days of his company, a bad debt of £80,000 almost led to the failure of his business. "It was a very steep learning curve. I vowed never to let this happen again." As a result, Mr Newman took out credit insurance "which means all of our distributors must be approved before credit arrangements can be agreed. If they don’t get approval, we need payment upfront." He concludes: "where big sums of money are involved, trust is just not enough." To view the full article go to http://www.londonlovesbusiness.com/entrepreneurs/one-to-watch-the-film-director-whose-coconut-water-start-up-is-growing-at-250-a-year/9878.article.

The numbers of business failures in Portugal, Spain and Italy will be almost three times greater than in 2007. Atradius' latest Insolvency Forecasts advises that numbers of business insolvencies in 2015 will remain high for many countries - in may cases 70% higher than in 2007. Although, Atradius predicts an overall 7% decrease in insolvencies this year, there will be little or no improvement (5% or less) for over half of the countries reviewed. In particular, countries such as Portugal, Spain and Italy face a very difficult insolvency environment, with the numbers of failures expected to be almost three times greater than in 2007. However, for countries such as the US the outlook is much brighter, and 2015 is expected to see a further 15% drop in insolvencies and 20% fewer business failing than in 2007. Japan, New Zealand, Australia, Denmark and the UK will also see decreased business failures. To view Atradius' forecast go to http://global.atradius.com/images/stories/economic%20research/03162015%20Atradius_Economic_Research-Insolvency_Forecasts.pdf.

Euler Hermes finds that micro enterprises in Spain are more likely to pay on time. A new report from Euler Hermes has found that nearly 50% of Spanish micro enterprises pay on-time vs. only 12% of large and multinational companies. The average payment term - calculated from the invoice issue date to the payment receipt date - is around 99 days in Spain compared to 46 days in Europe overall. This difference also appears in the average payment terms of public administrations, which take the longest to pay (154 days in Spain vs. 58 days in Europe). In terms of company size, large companies and multinationals have the longest average payment terms, while micro enterprises and SMEs pay more quickly due to the smaller size of their finance departments and limited contractual bargaining power. Along with Ireland, Italy and Portugal, Spain ranks among the worst payers, while Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, France and Denmark top the list of responsible countries. To view Euler Hermes' news release go to http://www.eulerhermes.com/mediacenter/news/Pages/payment-terms-Spain.aspx.

Falling oil prices have global implications: Aon Political Risk Map 2015. Aon Risk Solutions has unveiled its 2015 Political Risk Map which portrays political risk in emerging markets. Topping the list of political risks facing emerging market investors is the increasing instability in the already-fragile oil producing countries of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Russia and Venezuela as a consequence of the low oil price. The map also illustrates that the low oil price continues to cast an economic shadow over the CIS region, particularly for Russia’s larger regional trading partners such as Belarus and Kazakhstan. Matthew Shires, Head of Political Risk, said: “By using the latest data and analytics, the political risk map helps organisations determine their emerging market investment strategies. Businesses need to constantly monitor their exposure to political risk such as the impact of oil price uncertainty and political instability.” To view the Map as a PDF go to http://www.aon.com/2015politicalriskmap/2015-Political-Risk-Map.pdf. The map is also accessible on Aon's Risk Map App - available via Apple Store or Google Play.

Coface reports challenging payment behaviour in China: 80% of companies affected by overdue payments in 2014. A new Panorama by Coface on corporate credit risk management in China has revealed that 8 out of 10 corporates experienced overdue payments in 2014. Although this is a slight improvement compared to 2013, overdue payments have remained at high levels for the last three years. More than half (56.7%) of Chinese companies saw an increase in overdue amounts over the past year (up 11.7% compared to 2013), and 19.6% of respondents reported that the average overdue period exceeded 90 days in 2014. Coface also advises that China’s 7.4% year-on-year GDP growth registered in 2014 was the slowest growth rate in the last 24 years, and predicts that the slowdown will continue this year with 7% growth. To view Coface's news release go to http://www.coface.com/News-Publications/News/Corporate-overdue-payments-in-China-at-high-levels-80-of-corporates-affected-in-2014. A link to the full Panorama report is available.

The economic outlook brightens for Mexico. Credendo Group's latest Country Risk Assessment on Mexico advises that the country was strongly hit by the global financial crisis. Economic activity contracted by 4.5% in 2009, and although a rebound ensued in 2010 and 2011 – with growth rates of 5.1% and 4.0% respectively – the economy slowed again a mere 1.4% growth in 2013. However, more recently, economic activity has modestly picked up. Mexican GDP expanded by 2.1% in 2014, and, looking further ahead, growth is expected to accelerate to 3.2% in 2015 and 3.5% in 2016. Credendo Group assesses Mexico’s short-term political risk as limited (category 2 on a scale from 1 to 7), with a somewhat less favourable medium and long term outlook (category 3). To view the report on Credendo Group's website go to http://www.delcredereducroire.be/newsletter/en/cra/66268/cra-mexico-february2015.
Subscribers are invited to register for free issues of Credendo Group's regular newsletter - see http://www.credimundi.co.uk/en/newsletter/.

Euler Hermes: Low oil prices will cut Latin American growth by 0.4%. Euler Hermes has advised that it estimates that dramatically lower oil prices will negatively impact Latin American trade and fiscal balances, shaving 0.4% from regional real growth. Euler Hermes’ latest report also reveals that real GDP will slow to around +0.5% in 2015, compared to the +0.9% estimated for 2014. “This decline in oil prices will be an additional threat to an already dangerous landscape, making 2015 a very challenging year for Latin America,” said Daniela Ordonez, Euler Hermes economist for Latin America. “In addition to low oil prices, the slowdown in China – the main Latin American export market – and still sluggish demand from developed markets will continue to weigh on export volumes.” To view Euler Hermes' news release go to http://www.eulerhermes.com/mediacenter/news/Pages/Euler-Hermes-Low-oil-prices-to-cut-Latin-American-growth-by-0.4pp.aspx.

Italy: A rebound in sight? Atradius' latest Country Report on Italy predicts that in 2015 Italy's GDP is expected to grow by 0.5% after three years of contraction (-1.9% in 2013 and -0.4% in 2014). However, Atradius also expects that Italian corporate insolvencies which have increased sharply since 2008, and were up 10% year-on-year in 2014, will continue to increase at the same level in 2015. Construction, civil engineering, metals and wholesale/retail (mainly furniture, household appliances, clothing and footwear) will be the worst affected. Italy has now lost nearly 20% of its share of its export markets - particularly European markets - over the last couple of years. To view the Atradius' report go to http://global.atradius.com/images/stories/CountryReports/Italy_March_2015_ENG.pdf.

Qatar's phenomenal economic growth. Credendo Group's latest Country Risk Assessment on Qatar advises that over the past decade, economic performance in Qatar has been phenomenal. Real GDP on average expanded by 12% per year and as a result, the country has become one of the richest in the world. This wealth is due to with natural resource abundance; Qatar is the 14th largest supplier of oil in the world and has enormous gas reserves which are only surpassed by Russia’s and Iran’s. Credendo Group assesses the short-term political risk in Qatar as very limited (category 1 on a scale from 1 to 7), but, looking ahead, cautions that there is risk in the high level of the country's gross external debt and vulnerability to oil and gas prices (medium and long term outlook assessed as category 3). To view the report on Credendo Group's website go to http://www.delcredereducroire.be/newsletter/en/cra/66268/cra-qatar-march2015.
Subscribers are invited to register for free issues of Credendo Group's regular newsletter - see http://www.credimundi.co.uk/en/newsletter/.

Global Trade: What’s cooking? Introducing twelve countries’ recipes for boosting exports. Euler Hermes has published a special report, 'Global Trade: What’s cooking?', which reports that globally, the economy is in 'tradegnation' - "an unfortunate state which combines weak trade growth and anaemic price pressures." Although Euler Hermes stresses that 2015 and 2016 should bring better news, with some countries and companies continuing to benefit from global trade, it appears that others are looking increasingly isolated. The report aims to open the lid and look at 'what's cookin’ in the global trade pan', and identifies twelve recipes for success from countries around the world. To view all 12 recipes go to http://www.eulerhermes.us/economic-research/economic-publications/Documents/EconomicOutlook-GlobalTrade-March2015.pdf.

Audio: Credit Insurance panel discusses the industry, its opportunities and challenges. Igor Zax, Managing Director of Tenzor Ltd, recently moderated a panel at Factoring and Trade Finance World Conference (Miami, 2-4 March),  which also included: Kick Baesjou, Global Solutions Director, Coface; David Huey, President & Regional Director, NAFTA, Atradius Credit Insurance; Todd Lynady, Vice President, XoL (Americas), Euler Hermes World Agency and Robert Santimays, Chief Credit Officer, Working Capital Solutions, GE Capital. Among the areas explored, panelists examined the difference in penetration between credit insurers in the US and Europe and discussed the commercial, cultural and historical reasons which may underlie this. Other discussion points included: new products, product diversification, global programmes/partnerships and relationships between credit insurers and financial institutions. Full audio recording (kindly provided by CFA) is available. For details, go to http://www.tenzor.co.uk/news/igor-zax-moderated-panel-on-credit-insurance-audio/.

Company insolvency trends in Brazil. Coface s latest Panorama report on Brazil advises that the country's economic scenario remains sensitive. Coface expects GDP to break even in 2014 and activity contract by 0.5% in 2015, while industry dropped by 3.2% in 2014 and will probably record another negative year in 2015. However, despite this deterioration in economic fundamentals, somewhat surprisingly insolvencies actually decreased by 15.6% in 2014 (note: mineral and chemical sectors were  exceptions - both recorded significantly increased insolvencies of 50%+). Coface advises that this unexpected overall drop in insolvencies could be read as a short term relief after years of strong growth in delinquency, but warns that, against the backdrop of a worsening economic situation, this resiliency will not last. To view the Panorama go to http://www.coface.com/News-Publications/Publications/Company-insolvency-trends-in-Brazil.

Coface warns that the current drop in oil prices is impacting Latin American countries in different ways. A new report by Coface has described how oil prices have been in freefall over recent months, from their peak of US$114.81 on 20 June 2014, to just US$48.47 on 28 January 2015. To make matters worse on the supply side, the recent shale revolution in the US has raised production in the country to the highest level in three decades, while China, which is the main consumer (12% of total oil consumption), has demanded lower volumes due to the slowdown of its GDP growth. Of all countries, Coface calculates that Venezuela is the most affected country, and cites the IMF's forecast that every $10 decline in oil prices will reduce the trade balance by 3.5% of GDP. Colombia and Ecuador are, respectively, the second and third most sensitive countries to the drop in oil prices. To view Coface's news release go to http://www.coface.com/News-Publications/News/Impact-of-lower-international-oil-prices-on-Latin-America. A link to the full Panorama report is available.

Corporate insolvencies to rise in China. Wilfried Verstraete, the chairman of Euler Hermes SA, has been interviewed by Bloomberg about potential risks in China and warns that exporters in Hong Kong, China and Taiwan face a bigger risk of going out of business this year as access to finance becomes more difficult. Overall, insolvencies in the region are worsening, and are set to reach 5% in China and Hong Kong in 2015. To view the clip go to http://www.eulerhermes.com/mediacenter/news/Pages/China-Corporate-Insolvencies-May-Rise-by-Wilfried-Verstraete-Euler-Hermes.aspx.

Congratulations to . . . 
GTR (Global Trade Review) has announced the results of its GTR Mena Leaders in Trade 2014 awards. Congratulations to Marsh who was named 'Best Trade Credit and Political Risk Insurance Broker', and to Euler Hermes who won the award for 'Best Trade Credit and Political Risk Insurer'. To view all winners go to http://www.gtreview.com/news/mena/gtr-reveals-mena-leaders/.

Industry Events, Offers and Training
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.

Latin America Trade Finance Conference 2015, 14-15 April. Sao Paulo, Brazil.
GTR returns to São Paulo for its fifth year on April 14-15, providing the key discussion forum for high-level business leaders from across Latin America and beyond. Domestic, regional and international financial institutions; local SMEs and global agribusiness companies; policy makers; lawyers, and specialist trade finance risk analysts will be in attendance, keen to discuss the abundance of opportunities and challenges this exciting region holds. With its status as the most comprehensive gathering of trade finance professionals in the region, networking will be a key feature throughout, proving ample opportunity for anyone serious about doing business in Latin America to create new business contacts and build relationships with the market’s main players. Click here for more information.

Indonesia Trade & Commodity Finance Conference 2015, 23 April 2015. Jakarta, Indonesia.
GTR’s Indonesia Trade and Commodity Finance Conference will return to Jakarta for its fifth year, providing the key discussion forum for trade finance specialists across Indonesia and beyond. Dedicated discussions and case studies will bring together the decision makers within the market to explore new strategies and address concerns, with the aim to create an action plan that can be used to assist growth and development. Networking will provide an integral aspect of the event, ensuring delegates are able to establish new relationships with those serious about doing business in Indonesia. Click here for more information.

4th Annual Insurance Underwriters Event: Underwriting Risk in Time of Change – 28th April 2015. London.
During this complimentary seminar for insurance underwriters, brokers and risk management professionals, speakers from Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services, and Platts will discuss macroeconomic issues that could potentially impact the lending and underwriting exposure of insurance companies. Presentations will include: “Stars Aligning for a Stronger Economic Outlook” - Jean-Michel Six, European Chief Economist, Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services; “Beyond Oil Prices: How are global commodities performing, and the impact on different sectors” - Jorge Montepeque, Global Director, Market Reporting, Platts; “Underwriting Risk Challenges in the Current Economic and Political Climate” - Panel Discussion. For more information and to register visit www.spcapitaliq-credit.com/insurance-underwriters-event-2015 or e-mail emea-marketing@spcapitaliq.com.

GTR Europe Trade & Export Finance Conference, 5-6 May. Hamburg, Germany.
GTR Supply Chain Masterclass, Tuesday 5 May.
These initiatives take place at a number of GTR events worldwide, providing highly specialised training sessions whereby participants make strategic decisions in the simulated management of a fictional, failing, manufacturing company.
GTR Europe Trade & Export Finance Conference 2015, Wednesday, 6 May.
Recognised as the continent’s leading gathering for European trade, export and supply chain finance professionals, this is the central part of the event. With over 200 senior decision makers expected in attendance, representing Europe’s top corporates, financial service organisations, policy makers and more, networking will form an essential part of proceedings.
Click here for more information.

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.

East Africa Trade & Commodity Finance Conference 2015, 14-15 May. Nairobi, Kenya.
GTR is delighted to announce its return to Nairobi for the East Africa Trade & Commodity Finance Conference 2015, forming the largest gathering of trade finance specialists in the region. Over 200 business leaders are expected to attend to explore key issues, challenges and the latest developments facing East Africa and beyond. Networking will form a fundamental aspect of the event where delegates can form new relationships and renew old contacts before the conference; through the GTR online networking site, during the conference through the dedicated networking sessions and finally the drinks reception. Click here for more information.

Natural Resources & Commodities Finance 2015, 20-21 May, De La Mar Theatre, Amsterdam.
Returning for its second year, Natural Resources and Commodities Finance 2015 will take TXF's dynamic approach to the standard conference format a step further. Incorporating capped-attendance idea labs, small workshop groups, games, panel sessions and the TXF duels, the event looks to address the following questions: Is traditional commodity finance dying? The Big Energy Debate: How do we find a way out of the current market volatility? What are traders’ treasury strategies for the next few years? What is behind the increasing number of prepayment arrangements and where have all the PXFs gone?
TXF will be joined by a global range of traders, producers, financiers, investors, economists, academics and consultants to discuss these issues. Please use promo code ‘C-insure’ to qualify for a 10% discount when booking. For more information or to book please click here.

Coface Country Risk Conference 2015. Thursday 4 June, London.
Gathering economists, industry experts, companies and their business partners, this conference aims to help businesses trade safely by providing key information involved in making domestic and export trading decisions. This year’s event will be on the morning of Thursday 4th June, followed by a buffet lunch. To register your interest in attending please email crc_uk@coface.com.

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, contact STECIS by sending an e-mail to info@stecis.org or call +31 20 528 5170.

Business Information: Latest Reports and Business Shorts
BCC upgrades UK growth forecast - but warns on longer-term outlook. The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) has upgraded its UK GDP growth forecast for the next two years, from 2.6% to 2.7% in 2015, and from 2.4% to 2.6% in 2016. The latest forecast also makes the BCC’s first prediction for UK growth in 2017 - at 2.6%. Exports are also expected to increase by 3.7% in 2015, and 2.6% in 2016 and 2017. Commenting, John Longworth, Director General of the BCC said: “We are upgrading our UK growth forecasts for 2015 and 2016 because businesses up and down the country are doing well - despite international and domestic uncertainty." However, he cautioned: “While 2015 has got off to a good start, there is no room for complacency. The UK is still a long way from achieving the great, sustainable, long-term growth we want to see." To view the BCC's news release go to http://www.britishchambers.org.uk/press-office/press-releases/bcc-upgrades-uk-growth-forecast-but-warns-on-longer-term-outlook.html.

UK Small firms are on solid ground. According to a recent survey by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), UK small business confidence remains robust. The Small Business Index, a measure of small business confidence in the UK shows confidence levels are firmly in positive territory at +28.7 points - up +11.1 points since last quarter. The positive sentiment is also reflected in rising revenues and profits, with a net balance of 19.5% reporting that revenues grew over the past three months, and a net balance of 12.5% reporting the same for gross profits. The number of businesses who have applied for a loan from their bank and been approved has also increased to 57% compared to 45% 12 months ago. John Allan, National Chairman of the FSB, said: "Our latest results once again paint a positive picture for small businesses with confidence amongst members remaining high, and nearly all the major indicators heading in a positive direction." To view the FSB's news release go to http://www.fsb.org.uk/News.aspx?loc=pressroom&rec=8916.

The CBI's growth indicator shows mild slowdown in the UK. The CBI’s growth indicator, a composite of its manufacturing, distribution and services surveys, reported that UK private-sector growth over the three months to February remained relatively robust, although easing slightly. The mild slowdown was due mainly to the retail sector, while growth picked up a little in the manufacturing sector. However, official data showed that British manufacturing got off to an underwhelming start in 2015, contracting by 0.5% in January. Overall production also fell by 0.2%. Since that leaves manufacturing output 0.2% below its average level over Q4 2014, a substantial contribution to overall GDP growth from the sector in the first quarter is looking unlikely. Survey indicators also show a slight slowing in the pace of growth in the US while the Eurozone remains in technical deflation. To view the CBI's news release go to http://news.cbi.org.uk/news/economic-update-13-march-2015/.

Value of IPO deals on London’s junior market surges by 134% year-on-year. Listings on London Stock Exchange’s main market reach 8-year high. Experian has reported that the volume and value of Initial Public Offerings (IPOs) on London’s junior market increased last year as SMEs sought funding for growth. In total, there were 75 IPO transactions on London Stock Exchange’s (LSE) AIM last year worth £2.5 billion - an increase in value of 134% on 2013. Wholesale and Retail was the most active sector, contributing 41% to the overall value of transactions, followed by Manufacturing (34%) and the Information and Communication sector (24%). Experian also found that the volume and value of IPOs on the LSE’s main market also increased last year by 43% (from 40 to 57), while the total value rose to £12 billion - up 12% on the £10.6 billion recorded in 2013. This was the highest level of volume and value recorded on London’s main market since 2007. To view Experian's news release go to https://www.experianplc.com/media/news/2015/smaller-companies-choose-ipos-to-fund-growth/.

Court fee hike could deter SMEs from taking action against late payment. Hilton Baird has advised that civil court fees for claims over £10,000 have recently increased dramatically and warned that this could deter British SMEs from taking action against late payment. Under the new rules, the fee for issuing a civil claim worth more than £10,000 has increased to 5% of the sum claimed, with a maximum fee set at £10,000. The controversial fee increase, of up to 600% in some cases, affects both specified and unspecified claims. "With late payment a threat to the survival of SMEs, the increased fees are particularly worrying for small businesses who may find the change crippling." To view Hilton Baird's news release go to http://www.hiltonbaird.co.uk/Business-Finance-Blog/408/Court-fee-hike-could-deter-SMEs-from-taking-action/.

CICM UK Credit Managers’ Index shows continued business confidence. The results from the latest Chartered Institute of Credit Management (CICM) Credit Managers’ Index (CMI) for Q4 2014 indicate that business confidence and the outlook for future growth remain high, as companies continue to seek new and additional lines of credit, evidenced through a sustained appetite for risk. The Index has also shown a significant increase in key areas where credit managers believe they must improve their risk management operations going forward, including a 27% increase in those wanting to gain detailed intelligence on the credit worthiness of customers and a fifth wanting to improve their value with a credit insurer or bank. To view the CICM's news release go to http://www.cicm.com/cicm-uk-credit-managers-index-shows-continued-business-confidence/.

Mid-sized businesses are the engine house of Europe. According to a new report by Sage working with the Centre for Economic and Business Research, mid-sized businesses are the engine house of Europe. Despite accounting for just 1% of firms in the business economy, the report found that mid-sized enterprises accrue 20% of Europe’s total turnover, generating 18% of Gross Value Added (GVA) and contributing an estimated GVA of €1.03 trillion in 2014 – nearly the equivalent to the total economic output of Spain!  Jayne Archbold, CEO at Sage Enterprise Market Europe, said: “Mid-sized businesses play a critical role in driving economic growth in the UK, and across Europe. . . At a time when many businesses were struggling, this sector grew by 33%. They should be viewed as the unsung heroes of the economy." To view Sage's news release go to http://www.sage.co.uk/blog/index.php/2015/02/leading-european-charge/.

SMEs say large corporate organisations are most likely to make late payments. The latest Close Brothers Business Barometer has reported that late payment problem continues to be an issue for a third of UK SMEs, with as many as a fifth of firms claiming that it is worse now than it was 12 months ago. A further 65% of those negatively affected by late payments say the situation hasn’t improved in the last year. CEO of Close Brothers Invoice Finance, David Thomson, said: “Our findings show that the burden of late payments continues to be a headache for over a third of small businesses, resulting in cash flow difficulties for the majority (65%) and for as many as 15% of firms, it is threatening their ability to trade.” Of those affected by late payments, over half claim that they have had to write off up to 10% of their turnover on average in the last 12 months whilst almost a quarter have had to write off between 10% and 25% of their turnover." To view Close Brother's news release go to http://www.closeinvoice.co.uk/news-and-insights/late-payment-problem-worsens-almost-fifth-smes.

Net loss of UK stores rockets almost threefold. According to PwC research compiled by the Local Data Company (LDC), despite the rate of high street store closures stalling at 16 per day in 2014, close to three times as many shops disappeared compared to 2013. In total, 5,839 outlets closed in 2014 compared to 4,852 openings. This equates to a net reduction of 987 shops - a significant increase from the 371 closures in 2013. Service retail (opticians, travel agents, hairdressers, recruitment agencies) saw a net decline in shops from -299 units in 2013 to -457 in 2014, while charity shops, coffee shops, tobacconists/E-cigarettes, pound shops and betting shops were among those opening the most branches during 2014. Mike Jervis, insolvency partner and retail specialist at PwC said: "Despite the benign economy, the net loss of shops has accelerated. The insolvencies of Phones4U, Blockbuster, Albemarle & Bond, and La Senza, a diverse cross-section of the retail market, epitomise these factors." To view PwC's news release go to http://pwc.blogs.com/press_room/2015/03/net-loss-of-stores-rockets-almost-threefold-says-pwc-and-local-data-company.html.

Career Opportunities:
Senior Underwriter, Credit and Political Risk team. London. Salary @£50,000 - £80,00 with full benefits package
Large international insurer is currently looking for a new Senior Underwriter to join its Credit and Political Risk team. The role will include underwriting complex insurance within Political Risk and Trade Credit, implementing Underwriting strategy and assisting development of account and managing customer and broker relationships. Some overseas travel will be required. To be considered, you will have several years' experience underwriting, specifically in credit and political risk. A Knowledge of UK, international and emerging markets and strong numerical and communication skills is necessary. To apply, please contact Ben Wade (ben.wade@reedglobal.com) or call 0207 220 4777. (Please mention Credit Insurance News Digest when applying).

Senior Credit Analyst – EMEA Corporates, London. £70,000-£90,000 + Bonus + Benefits.
This global organisation is seeking a Senior Credit Analyst to focus on EMEA Corporates, typically within the heavy industries segment, to join their team. You’ll be supporting a team of commercial individuals based in London and will work alongside global colleagues within the Credit Analysis function. Typically the corporates will be investment grade, however there will be some smaller entities as well. Geographies will be biased towards UK & Europe with a small exposure in the Middle East & Africa. Your role will be to prepare detailed credit files for lending values generally between $50m - $500m, therefore diligence is important. As well as company financials you’ll be expected to refer to non-financial, company rating and where applicable country rating tools to ensure that you are providing a holistic view of the client risk. These analyses will be prepared for both new business request and existing portfolio business with a view to ensuring exposure is monitored. Regular liaison with the offshore processing team and colleagues throughout the world will be required; in addition you will be expected to carry out occasional client meetings throughout EMEA. It’s crucial that you have experience of analysis of financials for UK and European major organisations with a view to providing insightful guidance on major lending decisions. Ideally you will also speak a Southern European language (Spanish / Portuguese / Italian) however this isn’t essential. Experience of Debt Restructuring / Workouts would also be highly regarded. This is a great opportunity to join a team who are firmly in growth mode, have an excellent work/life balance as well as team moral. You’ll also get opportunity to really take end-to-end ownership of your work and genuinely see the benefit of the work you carry out. Coupled with an attractive basic salary the company have a competitive benefits scheme including various bonuses and benefits. For further information and a confidential discussion, please contact kerren.leach@eamesconsulting.com or call 0207 092 3283. (Please mention Credit Insurance News Digest when applying).

Account Manager – Credit Insurance.
Credit & Business Finance Ltd, a highly respected Credit Insurance broker is looking to recruit an experienced Account Manager with at least 10 years’ experience specialising in credit insurance to join their expanding client servicing team in the South East. You will be responsible for renewing policies, dealing with clients senior management, processing client requests, arranging and attending regular client meetings as well as dealing with client claims issues and resolving all client queries efficiently and professionally for large mid corporates and multinational businesses. Developing and enhancing both client and underwriter relationships is key whilst growing the client portfolio to include other risk management services. A competitive salary including commission scheme is offered along with Health Insurance, Pension Scheme and Death in Service cover. If you are interested in this opportunity please send your CV and covering email to wendy@wpal.biz.

Trade Credit Broking, Client Service Executive, Reading. Salary Dependent on Experience.
We are seeking a Trade Credit Insurance Broker with a minimum 1 years’ experience for a client service role as an Account Handler (Client Service Executive) to support our Team in Reading. The successful individual will be assisting a small team of Account Executives (AE’s) and Account Directors (AD’s) in developing and servicing a varied client portfolio. The Willis Credit Risk team in Reading supports Willis’ UK Regional business and reports into the Willis Financial Solutions Division, the worlds’ largest combined global Political and Trade Credit broker, operating from London, New York, Singapore and 6 other cities.
Key responsibilities will include all the usual service needs for mainstream trade credit insurance policies and new business broking as well as providing an element of administrative back up. To be considered you must have some relevant experience working either within Credit Insurance broking / Credit Risk underwriting or a related field. Your key skills will include: understanding of trade credit, credit management or trade finance, excellent communication skills and client relationship experience, with the ability to work independently as well as part of a team.
Salary and terms are dependent on experience, with all the usual benefits of working for one of the world's largest insurance brokers.
Contact Christine Pringle (pringlecs@willis.com) on +44 113 283 2913 for more information. (Please mention Credit Insurance News Digest when applying).

Credit Analyst - UK Obligors - Great Development Potential (ref:26402966), London. £25,000 - £42,000 per annum, inc benefits.
This client, a world leader in the credit guarantee arena is seeking a Credit Analyst or Credit Underwriter to join their team in Canary Wharf. This is a large department who have a great social ethic and work environment coupled with excellent opportunities for training and development.
The role itself will see you carrying out analysis on UK Corporates by reviewing financial information (balance sheets, cashflows, P&L) and allocating a grading to these firms. You'll also be responsible for monitoring the credit-worthiness of a portfolio of companies who have already been graded. It's a challenging role which will require diligence and numeracy to be able to quickly and accurately identify any issues with the clients' financials and communicating these to interested parties. As you become accustomed to the role you'll also be responsible for meeting with the companies to discuss their financials, discuss the decision making with interested parties - justifying your decision making, and negotiating credit limits when required. Therefore you must be an excellent communicator both written and spoken.
The client is considering applicants who come with existing credit analysis experience, ideally of UK corporates, and the ability to understand and interpret financial statements. This could be in the role of Credit Underwriter, Credit Analyst, Mortgage or Loan underwriter (business not residential), or similar role. Alternatively the client will consider graduates who have a numerate degree (economics, maths, etc) with some work experience (either paid work since University or internships) within a financial environment and some basic exposure to credit analysis. Get in touch: Kerren Leach | Senior Consultant | +44 207 092 3283 | kerren.leach@eamesconsulting.com. (Please mention Credit Insurance News Digest when applying).

About this issue's sponsor: A HOUSE OF SPECIALISMS: CREDENDO GROUP.
Uncertainties can be transformed into opportunities through effective credit insurance. This common principle federates all business units in Credendo Group. Each has its specialist strengths, but all are committed to providing European exporters with the risk protection and service support they need to grow their trade activities around the world.

The parent company Delcredere | Ducroire was founded as a Belgian autonomous body in 1939, with roots back to 1921. But over the past decade Delcredere | Ducroire has developed into a group present in 14 European countries.

Medium- and long-term trade credit insurance cover is the metier of Delcredere | Ducroire, the official Belgian export credit agency. With its cover capacity of EUR 30 billion and its AA rating from Standard & Poor’s, it underwrites major projects worldwide and capital goods sales, to a wide range of markets, largely outside OECD.

Besides trade credit and foreign direct investment insurance, Delcredere | Ducroire also offers direct financing for limited amounts and financial guarantees.

Short-term trade credit insurance, underwritten on a commercial market basis, is provided by Credimundi, KUPEG and INGO-ONDD. Their on-the-spot presence in key exporting markets ensures that they are close to their clients and able to tailor solutions to their local needs.
  • Credimundi, headquartered in Brussels, has branches in the United Kingdom, Germany, France and Italy and underwrites trade activities worldwide. This business is noted for its expertise in emerging and developing market risk. Credimundi has a strong capacity for political as well as commercial exposures. It also issues surety contracts for bonds and guarantees.
  • KUPEG is based in Prague, with a presence in Slovakia and Poland. Its expert focus is on the increasingly important Central and East European economies.
  • INGO-ONDD, in Moscow, is the specialist underwriter in the Russian and CIS markets, a fast evolving region where credit insurance plays a growing role.
Bespoke single-risk cover is required for some individual transactions; the specialist underwriter Garant, located in Vienna and Geneva, structures insurance to meet the specific circumstances of an individual deal. Its experience in this specialist field is reflected in the independent A- ratings from Fitch and AM Best.

Certain exporters develop strong risk management structures of their own. However, they still require excess-of-loss insurance or top-up cover to ensure an adequately high level of protection against unexpected risks. This is provided by Trade Credit. Trade Credit has its head office in Brussels and subsidiaries in eight countries: France, Germany, Italy, Luxemburg, the Netherlands, Spain, Poland and the United Kingdom.

All businesses across Credendo Group are committed to customer focus and risk appetite. Credendo Group tailors solutions to the needs of each client and the challenges they face.


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