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Welcome to issue 97 of Credit Insurance News Digest. The industry newsletter devoted to the global trade credit insurance industry.
This issue is sponsored by Canopius

Index
 
Credit Insurance News
14% of global cross-border trade was supported in 2017 by export credit and investment insurers. Berne Union has announced strong growth in its members’ new business in 2017, with cross-border trade (short-term) totaling US$ 2,088 billion. In addition, export credits (medium/long-term) and investment insurance totaled US$179 billion and of US$64 billion respectively. This increases the Berne Union members’ share of world trade to over 14%. Regarding claims; following the trend established in 2015 and 2016, Members again paid over US$6 billion throughout 2017 (well above the 10-year average of US$4.5 billion, but still 2.4% lower than the recent peak in 2016). Berne Union President, Topi Vesteri, commented: “by all accounts, 2017 was an excellent year for Berne Union members and once again we made a tremendous positive impact on global cross-border trade and investment. Business is growing, which is positive news both for insurers and the real economy in which trade is insured." To read the Berne Union's news release go to http://cdn.berneunion.org/assets/Images/Kilifi%20SM%20Press%20Release.pdf.
Export credit insurers buoyed by the latest Berne Union figures. GTR (Global Trade Review) has reported that the Berne Union's recent figures (see above) spell good news for both export credit insurers and the trade economy. On the other hand, the report finds indemnifications were also high - "music to the ears of insurance holders." Paul Heaney, Associate Director of the Berne Union, commented: “We see that our industry is performing well, and precisely in the way that it should,” One negative is the decline in new investment insurance uptake – the first drop in five years. The Berne Union puts this down to a circa 16% fall in FDI flows during 2017, mostly resulting from “a significant decrease in in-flows to developed markets”. To read GTR's article go to https://www.gtreview.com/news/global/export-credit-insurers-buoyed-berne-union-data-2017/.
Bad Debt Britain: claims paid by trade credit insurers are running at over £4 million every week - their highest level since 2009. The Association of British Insurers (ABI) has reported that its latest annual trade credit insurance statistics for 2017 indicate that claims paid by trade credit insurers totaled £225 million, the equivalent of £4.3 million every week. This is up 7% on 2016 and is the highest amount since 2009. In 2017 there were 11,017 claims, or 212 firms being helped every week. The ABI's data also shows that the level of trade covered by trade credit insurance in the UK stands at a record £340 billion, up 7% on 2016. A fifth of policies covered businesses exporting goods or services overseas, with just over three-quarters covering domestic trade. In total, nearly 13,000 policies were in force. To read the ABI's news release go to https://www.abi.org.uk/news/news-articles/2018/03/bad-debt-britain-insurance-pay-outs-to-help-uk-businesses-deal-with-unpaid-bills-are-at-their-highest-since-2009/.
Trade Credit Insurers may be moving towards an increasingly risk averse climate. Readers may be interested to watch a BBC News video clip posted on the YouTube Channel of Real Business Rescue, in which Julie Palmer of Begbies Traynor discusses trade credit insurance and 'bad debt Britain' in the light of the ABI's figures. Ms Palmer suggests that although trade credit insurers are "adept at pricing risk accordingly . . . commensurate with the risk", in the light of the ABI's figures, trade credit insurers may be moving towards an "increasingly risk averse climate," with price rises likely to follow. Ms Palmer concludes that with the average UK SME suffering significant levels of bad debt, policies such as offered by trade credit insurers are essential. To watch the video clip go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=2&v=7ISvk4eorSo.
ABI to industry: Raise trade credit insurance awareness. Insurance Business has reported that with the likes of Carillion, Monarch, Palmer & Harvey, Multiyork and Misco all suffering the same fate, the Association of British Insurers (ABI) wants more suppliers and contractors to realise the crucial role played by trade credit insurance. “The expertise of trade credit insurers is helping firms navigate challenging trading conditions, enabling them to expand at home and overseas, so helping Britain thrive,” said Mark Shepherd, ABI assistant director, property, commercial, and specialist lines. “With the number of policies rising and insured trade at a record high, more firms are recognising that this cover is an essential business tool to help them assess the credit risk of potential business partners. He continued: “But too many firms remain unprotected, and we need to raise awareness of the importance of trade credit insurance.” To read Insurance Business' article go to https://www.insurancebusinessmag.com/uk/news/breaking-news/abi-to-industry-raise-trade-credit-insurance-awareness-95187.aspx.
Why Toys "R" Us may signal the start of an insolvency spike. PYMNTS has published an article which reports that the global market is probably headed for an upswing in insolvencies and repeats of Toys "R" Us’' ongoing troubles. According to Douglas Collins, Vice President and Regional Director of Risk Services for Atradius Americas, “Over the last three to four months, we’ve actually seen an uptick in insolvency activity in our portfolio. Partly, we think that’s because interest rates are starting to go up.” Mr Collins explained that one of the largest factors leading to a probable rise in insolvencies is what he calls the “Amazon effect” – the inability for giant retailers to compete with digital rivals like Amazon and Walmart. Toys "R" Us “certainly” falls into that category, he said. To read PYMNTS' article go to https://www.pymnts.com/news/b2b-payments/2018/insolvency-atradius-toys-r-us-bankruptcy-supplier-payments/.
Poundstretcher’s credit insurance is tightened. An article in Retail Gazette, 'Warning signs as Poundstretcher’s credit insurance cut ', reports that Poundstretcher has become the latest high street chain to have its credit insurance restricted, in further signs of trouble on the high street. According to The Sunday Times, credit insurers Euler Hermes have tightened terms on the discount retailer’s parent company Crown Crest. The article notes that Poundstretcher marks the latest big-name retailer to see a cut in its credit insurance, with New Look and House of Fraser both announcing similar news earlier this year. To read Retail Gazette's article go to https://www.retailgazette.co.uk/blog/2018/03/warning-signs-poundstretchers-credit-insurance-cut/.
Trade Credit International launched after key acquisition. GTR (Global Trade Review) has reported that Williams Insurance Group has launched a new specialist trade credit and political risk insurance broker, Trade Credit International (TCI), headed by Rupert Murray (previously Executive Director of Arthur J Gallagher). The broker was established after Williams Insurance Group acquired Newstead International in September 2017, a move which saw the two companies’ trade credit insurance businesses merge and rebrand to TCI. In October 2017, Rupert Murray joined TCI as Managing Director of the combined businesses, which will focus on trade credit and political risk. The team also includes Bridget Chapman and Mark Williams (CEO of Williams Insurance Group) in Director roles and Kit Brownlees, as a non-executive director. Andrew Neill and Roger Gilmore are both consultants. To read GTR's article go to https://www.gtreview.com/news/on-the-move/trade-credit-international-launched-after-key-acquisition/.
Despite worsening B2B payment terms, 40% of Chinese companies do not use any credit management tools. Coface' s latest Panorama has found that 40% of the Chinese companies it recently surveyed do not use any credit management tools. Although this can be understood in the context of generally improving payment conditions and overall economic conditions, Coface warns that tail risks have increased. For example, the proportion of respondents experiencing payment delays exceeding 120 days increased to 26% in 2017 (19% in 2016), while those experiencing ultra-long payment delays (more than 180 days) which exceeded 2% of their annual turnover increased to 47% in 2017 (35% in 2016). Similarly, companies reporting more than 10% of their annual turnover tied-up in ultra-long payment delays increased to 21% in 2017 from 11% in 2016. According to Coface’s experience, around 80% of these ultra-long payment delays don’t get paid at all. To read Coface's news release, with a link to the full report, go to http://www.coface.com/News-Publications/Publications/China-Corporate-Payment-Survey-2018-payment-delays-increase-despite-rapid-and-robust-growth.
Atradius and Kemiex launch an online API trading platform. Atradius and Kemiex have announced that they have joined forces to introduce the first online trading platform for Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (APIs) & Additives. Atradius advises that the Kemiex platform aims to help traders, buyers and sellers of APIs and Additives to identify reliable and compliant counterparties and conduct safe trade in a global and highly fragmented market. Atradius participates by providing credit risk insight and insuring trade between sellers and buyers, initially starting in 8 European markets. The platform is open for registration and trading will be officially launched later this year with all services integrated. To read Atradius' news release go to https://group.atradius.com/products/Kemiex_and_Atradius.html.
Five trade credit brokers to leave Marsh. An article in Insurance Insider by Bernard Goyder has reported that five trade credit insurance brokers are set to leave Marsh in Manchester and Birmingham. The Insurance Insider understands that Daniel Stewart, Rachel Smailes and Colin Cunningham in Manchester have tendered resignations, along with Laura Ferguson and Rob Farquharson in Birmingham. To read Insurance Insider's article go to http://www.insuranceinsider.com/five-trade-credit-brokers-to-leave-marsh (subscription required).
Credit insurance is more relevant than ever for UK retailers. Ian Bocca, Manager of Commercial Underwriting at QBE, has published an article which examines the current situation (a perfect storm of rising costs, falling demand, move to online and diminished consumer confidence) facing UK 'bricks and mortar' retailers. He notes that a recent report from KPMG predicts that many retailers will have to “fight to survive” in 2018 , and that according to Begbies Traynor some 45,000 retailers currently face serious financial distress. Furthermore, nearly one-fifth of clothing retailers in the UK are showing signs of financial distress and are at risk of going insolvent, according to Moore Stephens. Mr Bocca concludes: "Good credit risk management is important at the best of times, but trade credit insurance is even more relevant in an uncertain and volatile market." To read QBE's article go to https://qbeeurope.com/news-and-events/blog-articles/can-uk-retailers-weather-the-storm/.
The UK is among the top five global economies for digital business. The US is in first position. According to new research from Euler Hermes that compared 115 countries on their regulations, digital infrastructure, number of internet users, connectivity and knowledge sharing capabilities, the UK ranks among the top five countries in the world for enabling digital growth. The findings show that digital businesses in the US (1st), Germany (2nd) and the Netherlands (3rd) are most likely to thrive, due to the government focus on knowledge sharing ecosystems, favourable regulatory environments and their sophisticated, widespread infrastructure. The UK is just behind Switzerland in fifth position, according to the findings. France (20th), Belgium (22nd), Spain (28th) and Italy (30th), lagged behind the UK with the report citing poorer connectivity and tighter regulation. To read Euler Hermes' news release go to http://www.eulerhermes.co.uk/euler-hermes-UK-and-Ireland/mediacenter/news/Pages/180320-digitalisation-uk.aspx.
Euler Hermes recorded more sector upgrades than downgrades for the third consecutive quarter. Euler Hermes has reported that its Q1 2018 country risks rating have been upgraded for five countries (Chile, Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire, Egypt and Russia) while just three countries (Romania, Algeria and Tunisia) have been downgraded. Euler Hermes also specifically monitors the risk of non-payment in 18 sectors across 76 countries, and in Q1 2018 has upgraded the ratings of 21 industries, mainly in Latin America (7), Western Europe (6) and Asia (5). By comparison, only 10 sectors were downgraded. This reflects a broad-based improvement on demand and profitability, as numerous sectors cash in on the acceleration of global growth; indeed, Euler Hermes recorded more sector upgrades than downgrades for the third consecutive quarter. The country and sector risks maps as well as Euler Hermes' latest global macroeconomic forecast are available at http://www.eulerhermes.com/economic-research/country-risks/Pages/country-reports-risk-map.aspx.
A challenging outlook for 2018 for the UK Consumer Durables sector in 2018. Atradius has published its latest Market Monitor report for the UK which notes that as a result of more difficult trading conditions, retailers profit margins have deteriorated in H2 of 2017, and further decline is expected in 2018 - mainly for brick-and-mortar retailers. Atradius also cautions that it has recorded a significant increase in non-payment notifications in H2 of 2017, which is likely to continue in 2018. Furthermore, business insolvencies are expected to increase by about 5% in 2018 after already rising over the past six months. To read Atradius' Monitor go to https://group.atradius.com/publications/market-monitor-consumer-durables-uk-2018.html.
Additional Market Monitor reports are also available for the following countries: Italy, Spain, Australia, India, Poland, Indonesia, Vietnam, Germany and the US.
Centerbridge-led consortium completes Canopius acquisition. Canopius has announced the completion of its acquisition by a private equity consortium led by Centerbridge Partners, L.P., which includes private investment firm Gallatin Point Capital LLC. Having received all necessary regulatory consents, Canopius is once again a standalone business, led by Chairman Michael Watson and Group Chief Underwriting officer Mike Duffy. Since its foundation in 2003, Canopius has developed into a top-ten insurer at Lloyd’s and wrote premium income of more than $1.5 billion in 2017. Michael Watson said: “I am delighted to herald the dawn of an exciting new chapter in Canopius’s journey. This has re-energised our exceptionally talented team who, with the financial strength and insights of our new owners, will continue to pursue our ambition of building a world-class specialty (re)insurance franchise.” To read Canopius' news release go to http://www.canopius.com/press-releases/centrebridge-led-consortium-completes-canopius-acquisition/.
Lebanese Credit Insurer launches its debt collection services to 11 new African markets. GTR (Global Trade Review) has reported that the Lebanese Credit Insurer (LCI) has announced that it has expanded its debt collection services to cover 11 new African markets. Karim Nasrallah, General Manager of LCI, commented: “Businesses operating in the Middle East and Africa face recurrent difficulties in securing payments for the goods and services they supply. It is widely known that these regions achieve inadequate rankings when it comes to debt collection, and many businesses are suffering when writing off bad debt." The expansion, he adds, will also allow LCI to extend its credit insurance cover to the new markets. To read GTR's news release go to https://www.gtreview.com/news/on-the-move/lebanese-credit-insurer-expands-to-11-african-markets/.
Political risks on the rise in Central and Eastern Europe, but no impact yet on local businesses. Coface's latest Panorama has advised that with the wave of ongoing elections in countries such as Hungary, Czech Republic, Poland and Slovenia, Central and Eastern Europe is undergoing a major period of change against the background of economic growth that is still strong. Although thus far, politics and the conflicts of some countries with the EU have not caused serious consequences for businesses, Coface notes that this situation is mainly due to other factors which are supporting CEE economies and businesses operating in the region. For example, economic activity has accelerated and in 2017 soared to its highest level in eight years (4.5%) and remains solid in 2018, at 3.9%. Exporters are also benefiting from the upswing in global demand, especially on the main foreign markets. To read Coface's news release with a link to the Panorama go to http://www.coface.com/News-Publications/News/Central-and-Eastern-Europe-Political-risks-on-the-rise-but-no-impact-yet-on-local-businesses.
BREXIT anniversary. 1.2% UK GDP growth predicted in 2019 - the lowest level recorded since 2019. Commenting on the anniversary of the UK’s invocation of Article 50, Ana Boata, European Economist at Euler Hermes, said: The UK economy has been resilient since the pro-Brexit vote. GDP growth only slowed to 1.7% in 2017 from 1.9% the previous year. However, even with the two-year transition period, we expect GDP growth to remain below potential at 1.5% this year and down to 1.2% in 2019, which would be the lowest level recorded since 2009. Lower foreign direct investment remains a drag on medium-term growth prospects." Euler Hermes also expects that a limited Free Trade Agreement on goods and services will be effective in 2021 at the earliest, after the transition period. To read Euler Hermes' news release go to http://www.eulerhermes.co.uk/euler-hermes-UK-and-Ireland/mediacenter/news/Pages/180329-brexit-anniversary.aspx.
Sancus launches Enhanced Protection to offer funders additional trade credit protection. Sancus has announced that it has launched a new “enhanced protection” option for funders seeking additional credit protection over and above the 90% credit insurance cover currently available on supply chain financing opportunities. Supply chain finance opportunities offered by Sancus are typically short-term credit-insured, with 90% of the capital exposure being recoverable from the credit insurer in the event of a relevant claim. Where an opportunity does not benefit from credit insurance, Sancus provides 10% first loss cover to funders under a funder protection policy. To read Sancus' news release go to https://www.sancus.com/sancus-launches-enhanced-protection-opportunity-for-funders/.
Euler Hermes UK 2017: Gender pay gap report. In April 2017, Gender Pay Reporting legislation came into force; and any employer with more than 250 employees now has to report each year on six key measures, including pay and bonus gaps. Euler Hermes has now published its full report which is available at http://www.eulerhermes.co.uk/euler-hermes-UK-and-Ireland/mediacenter/news/Lists/NewsDocuments/180404-gender-pay-gap-report.pdf.
And Finally           
A message from Sally Brown, Editor of Credit Insurance News Digest.
I have been deeply dismayed to find that an approximation of the Credit Insurance News logo has been used to market an expensive report on the Credit Insurance Industry.
I would like to make it clear that Credit Insurance News and Credit Management News in no way endorse this report, have not contributed it in any way and have nothing to do with any of the companies or websites currently selling it.
Due to the wonderful industry support of our sponsors and advertisers, Credit Insurance News Digest and Credit Management News Digest are free services and will remain as such. 
I am absolutely delighted that Credit Insurance News Digest is now in its sixth year and would like to thank our sponsors, advertisers and readers for their help, support and encouragement along the way.
Bobby Moore Golf Day - Friday June 8th 2018. Fundraising for The Bobby Moore Fund for Cancer Research UK.
Tony Smith, Export Underwriting Manager at Nexus CIFS is organising a Golf Day at Theydon Bois Golf Club in Epping, Essex on Friday June 8th in aid of The Bobby Moore Fund for Cancer Research UK. Upwards of 80 golfers will compete in both individual and team events, with a raffle and memorabilia auction.  
Readers of Credit Insurance News Digest are very welcome to buy raffle tickets or receive details of the memorabilia items. Please contact tw.smith@nexusunderwriting.com.
Donations for this fantastic cause would also be greatly appreciated and can be made directly to http://www.justgiving.com/owner-email/pleasesponsor/Tony-Smith2018.
Tony commented: "This is the 10th year of this event, which started out with 32 players in year one, but more recently has grown to 70+. Over 200 people have attended over that time and I continue to remain extremely grateful to everyone who turns out for the day and to support this great charity. Together, we've raised almost £32,500 from the golf days alone."
Congratulations to . . .
Canopius on the launch of its new brand.  
To celebrate, Canopius has produced a special one-off newspaper, The Canopius Herald, which contains news of the MBO completion, analysis of the markets, human-interest stories, sports and more. To take a look go to http://www.canopius.com/canopius-herald/.
New Appointments
Canopius AG has announced the appointment of Rebecca Marsden as Credit and Political Risk Underwriter. Rebecca will join Canopius later in the year from AXA Africa Specialty Risks, where she is currently Political Risk and Credit Underwriter. Bernie de Haldevang, Head of Specialty, commented, “We’ve been investing heavily in underwriting capability recently to boost our firepower across the Credit, Political and Crisis division and Rebecca will be a great boost to that development. She brings some impressive experience and great specialist knowledge of insurance and banking, with a particular understanding of the risks our clients face. I look forward to her joining the team.”
Atradius has announced two high-profile appointments within its UK team at its Cardiff HQ and Midlands Regional Hub.
  • Tom Danson has been appointed as Head of Commercial for Atradius’ Midlands Regional Hub. Tom joined the Atradius London team from Aviva AXA in March 2014 as a Senior Sales Development Manager. 
  • Richard Reynolds will be taking on the role of Head of Strategic Accounts. Formerly Head of SME Sales and Regional Manager for the Atradius Midlands region, Richard has been with Atradius for over 25 years.
Markel International has announced that it has made a number of promotions in its trade credit, political risk and surety business:
  • Adrian Jones adopts the role of Head of Strategic Development for Asia and the Middle East in addition to his existing senior underwriter role. 
  • Leroy Almeida is appointed as head of the Middle East operation, which now incorporates marine and D&O product lines. 
  • Simon Moon becomes Head of Risk Underwriting.
  • Carl Titterton becomes Head of Commercial Underwriting for the trade credit operation. 
  • Nicola Marriage becomes Head of Political Risk.
  • Leroy Almeida is appointed as Head of the Middle East operation, which now incorporates marine and D&O product lines. 
  • Philip Amlot becomes Head of Trade Credit and Political Risk, Americas.
  • Internationally, Arjan Van de Wall becomes Global Development Director.
Tinubu Square has announced that it has begun the restructuring of its management team following the recent €53 million investment by Long Arc Capital and Bpifrance. This is marked by the appointment of Bijan Olfati as Group Executive Vice President, Business Development and Olivier Placca, a co-founder of Tinubu Square, as the new Deputy Chief Executive Officer of the company. Mr Olfati, who was formerly Area Vice President, North America, at Oracle Financial Services Global Business Unit, will have responsibility for growing global market share. He has 20 years of experience working with some of the world's leading software companies.
Business Information & Reports
We are delighted to re-produce a small selection of the news items our new business information publication. Please go to Credit Management News Digest for more business information news.
UK economy remains subdued despite uplift from strong global growth. The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) has upgraded its growth expectations for the UK economy, raising its forecast for GDP from 1.1% to 1.4% in 2018 and from 1.3% to 1.5% for 2019, and its first forecasts for 2020 is for 1.6% growth. The upgrade is largely driven by slightly stronger than expected levels of consumer spending as well as strong global growth - particularly in key markets such as the Eurozone and US. That said, despite the upgrades, UK GDP growth is set to remain well below the historical average throughout the forecast period. The BCC's latest forecast also implies that the UK will remain among the worst performing economies in the G7 until 2020 at the earliest. To read the BCC's news release go to http://www.britishchambers.org.uk/press-office/press-releases/bcc-forecast-uk-economy-remains-subdued-despite-uplift-from-strong-global-growth.html.
More doom and gloom for UK high street retailers. London Loves Business reports that the Office of National Statistics' (ONS) latest retail results for February show a 13.7% rise in annual online sale, with e-commerce purchases now accounting for 17.2% of all UK retail sales. In contrast, high street sales saw a decrease of 0.4% in the first three months of this year. ParcelHero’s Head of Consumer Research, David Jinks, commented: "This year we have seen Toys "R" Us and Maplin electronics fail, and Claire’s Accessories, Mothercare, New Look, Bargain Booze, Wine Rack and Poundstretcher are faltering in various ways. It’s no coincidence that this is happening at a time when e-commerce stores from Amazon to ASOS to Ocado all report healthy results.’ To read London Loves Business' article go to http://www.londonlovesbusiness.com/business-news/retail/e-commerce-now-accounts-for-over-17-of-all-uk-retail-sales/20597.article.
'Who's Gone Bust in Retailing 2010-18' data indicates that 2018 is set to be a bad year for UK retailers. Centre for Retail Research has updated its list, 'Who's Gone Bust in Retailing 2010-18', with data for 2018. This shows that at the beginning of March 2018, the UK had already seen 11 medium or large companies failing (affecting a total of 394 stores and 6322 employees). In comparison, 2017 as a whole saw 44 such failures and 2016 saw 30. The biggest retailer so far in 2018 and one of the largest of the last ten years is Toys "R'" Us UK, which went into administration on the last day of February 2018 after failing to find a third-party buyer for the business. To see Centre for Retail Research's list go to http://www.retailresearch.org/whosegonebust.php.
UK businesses with EU suppliers experience difficulty securing contracts which run after March 2019. According to new research from CIPS, 32% of UK businesses with EU suppliers have already increased their prices as a result of the vote to leave the EU, and 41% plan to raise prices in the future to offset the potential costs of Brexit. Additionally, 11% of EU companies have moved some of their workforce out of the UK. CIPS also reports that despite there being one year to go until the UK’s departure from the EU, 9% of UK businesses with EU suppliers have already lost or had contracts cancelled as a direct result of Brexit. However, perhaps most worrying is CIPS' finding that 22% of UK businesses with EU suppliers are having difficulty securing contracts which run after March 2019. To read CIPS' news release go to https://www.cips.org/en-gb/news/news/consumers-already-paying-the-price-of-brexit-twelve-months-ahead-of-official-separation-/.
UK high street's struggles intensify. Proactive Investors has published an article, 'Next's toughest trading period in 25 years underlines high street struggles, say analysts', which reports that recently published full-year earnings from Next Plc add to further signs of struggles on the UK high street. The fashion retailer said 2017 was its toughest year in 25 years, blaming the shift in consumer preference towards online shopping and the impact of higher inflation on disposable incomes. Fellow clothing retailer New Look has also confirmed that it will close 60 UK stores and cut 1,000 jobs after creditors approved its restructuring plan. Toys "R" Us and Maplin collapsed into administration in February while John Lewis, Debenhams PLC, Carpetright PLC and Mothercare plc have all issued profit warnings this year. To read Proactive Investor's article go to http://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/193706/next-s-toughest-trading-period-in-25-years-underlines-high-street-struggles-say-analysts-193706.html.
Many well-known UK retailers will struggle to meet higher interest payments. A new study of over 1600 larger UK retailers with total assets of £5 million or over by Company Watch, has found that over a quarter were financially vulnerable to rises in interest rate costs this year. Company Watch reviewed the latest published full-year financial accounts of 1625 UK retailers. It found that 392 (24.1%) companies were in its Warning Area (H-Scores 25 or under), which means they are around 25 times more likely to suffer financial distress than those outside of it. The Company Watch study also found that 430 (26.5%) companies in its sample were loss-making which included many household retailers such as Hobbs Fashion, Mamas & Papas, Missguided, Thomas Pink, Sofa.com, TM Lewin, Paperchase, Sofology, Crew Clothing, Forever21 and Crocs UK Ltd. To read Company Watch's news release go to https://www.companywatch.net/article/2018/03/many-well-known-retailers-will-struggle-meet-higher-interest-payments-finds-new.
Payments legislation is not working for UK SMEs. Euromoney has published an article, 'Payments legislation not working for SMEs' which reports that the collapse of construction company Carillion has exposed notable issues being faced by the smallest companies in a supply chain. Despite being a signatory to the UK's Prompt Payment Code, Carillion was able to stave off signs of its financial difficulties by consistently paying its suppliers late. Furthermore, The Working Capital Outlook Survey 2017, conducted by C2FO and published in February, found that during the past year the number of companies reporting delayed payments increased in all of the countries surveyed, and amounted to a quarter of all respondents. For example, the report found delayed payments had increased in Germany (29%), the UK (30%) and in the US (24%). China (34%) and Italy (45%) have the latest payments of the countries surveyed. To read Euromoney's article go to https://www.euromoney.com/article/b171dqz6zvp0n0/payments-legislation-not-working-for-smes.
More UK SMEs now use trade credit. BDRC Group's latest SME Finance Monitor report for Q4 2017 has reported that 35% of UK SMEs in 2017 received trade credit (up slightly from 2014, when 31% received trade credit). The research also found that 52% of SMEs with employees used trade credit in 2017, up from 48% in 2016, with larger SMEs (with 50-249 employees) more likely to use trade credit than previously (7 in 10 compared to 6 in 10 previously. SMEs in the Wholesale Retail sector were the most likely to receive trade credit (53%). 7 in 10 of the SMEs that received trade credit said that it reduced their need for external finance. This is the equivalent of 24% of all SMEs. To read BDRC's report go to https://www.bdrc-group.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/RES_BDRC_SME_Finance_Monitor_Q4_2017.pdf.
A third of EU trade is with the US and China. Eurostat has reported that a third of EU trade is with the US and China, with a total EU trade in goods of €631 billion (16.9% of total) and €573 billion (15.3% of total) respectively. This is significantly more than Switzerland (€261 billion, or 7%), Russia (€231 billion, or 6.2%), Turkey (€154 billion, or 4.1%) and Japan (€129 billion, or 3.5%). However, the trends observed over time differ for these top trading partners of the EU. For example, the share of China has almost tripled since 2000, rising from 5.5% to 15.3% in 2017, while the share of Russia in total EU trade had been decreasing since 2012 from nearly 10% to around 6% in 2016. In almost all EU Member States, the main partner for exports of goods in 2017 was another member of the EU, except for Germany, Ireland, and the UK (for whom the US was the primary destination of exports). To read Eurostat's news release go to http://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/documents/2995521/8765917/6-26032018-AP-EN.pdf/0a4e2aea-1654-4c0d-92b1-c44ac844726f.
Please note that the text above is a summary of Eurostat's news.
UK construction output falls for 9th straight period. MarketInvoice has commented on the Office for National Statistics (ONS) latest construction output data for January which showed the sector declined 3.9%, compared with that of a year earlier. Declines were evidenced across all major categories, with ‘new work’ being most heavily affected, falling by 4.8% since December 2017. Q4 2017 data was also finalised, which showed that new orders decreased by 25% vs. Q3 2017. MarketInvoice's Senior Partnerships Manager, Craig Flyger, commented that customers are now being asked to accept unacceptable payments terms from their larger contractors. “We’re having businesses being forced without notice to move from electronic payments to cheques. Larger players are using every trick in the book to preserve their own cashflow. The impact of this is significant when businesses are paying their own subcontractors weekly, however are being forced to wait an additional 10-14 days for payments to clear.” To read MarketInvoice's news release go to https://blog.marketinvoice.com/2018/03/26/uk-construction-output-falls-9th-straight-period/.
Career Opportunities
Claims Underwriter Trade Credit
Nexus Trade Credit is seeking a Claims Underwriter for its international trade credit business. This exciting role will involve dealing with large value and complex claims arising from international trade.
While the role is based in London, many of the claims will originate from business underwritten from overseas underwriting offices of the Nexus subsidiary, Equinox Global Limited, in Germany, France, the Netherlands and the US as well as the UK. The successful candidate needs to be comfortable handling documentation in French, German, Dutch and Spanish and must have the mental flexibility to adapt to non UK legal and cultural practices, mainly but not exclusively, in Germany, France and the Netherlands including insolvency procedures. Debts reviewed can be from any territory around the world so modern commercial knowledge will also assist in functioning in the position. The candidate will report to the Nexus Claims Management team manager The role also involves directing proactive loss minimisation on larger potential losses. Some overseas travel will be required.
Person specification
  • Knowledge and experience of trade credit claims
  • Knowledge of the documentation involved in international trade, and how to demonstrate movement of goods
  • Ability to negotiate at CEO/CFO level
  • Good understanding of trade credit policy wordings
  • Some knowledge of European languages is desirable though not essential
  • Some knowledge of insurance law desirable but not essential 
Duties to include
  • Working within Binder constraints
  • Claim logging and documentation co-ordination
  • Claim examination and report generation
  • Manage the Lloyds payment process with Carriers via ECF
  • Management Information generation
  • Chairing monthly Carrier review meeting
  • Awareness of current legal regulations including Insurance Act 2015
  • Liaising with other Nexus Claims Adjusters
  • Client visits as required to discuss complex claims or review credit management procedures
  • To perform any other reasonable task as requested from time to time
Objectives
  • To work to company standards and manage annual performance related tasks
  • To record new claims and acknowledge them within three days of receipt
  • To provide an initial review to the client within 10 working days
  • To manage the claim settlement timetable and keep all parties advised of payment progress
  • To train other members of the team including underwriting with technical information as required 
Required Qualifications, Skills, Knowledge, Experience
  • Minimum 3 years’ experience
  • Educated to degree level would be preferable but not essential
  • I.T. literate with knowledge of word, excel, Microsoft outlook. 
  • Previous experience of the credit insurance industry would be beneficial
Please email your CV and a covering letter to humanresource@nexusunderwriting.com.
Account Executive (Ref. 110), Birmingham.
Salary: Competitive 
Your role will be to developing new business for the Birmingham area. You will seek out new clients through your own initiative, meeting prospective clients and offering them a professional advice and quotations. You will fully service the clients obtained through your own efforts. 
Experience:
  • Solid experience of Credit insurance and the credit insurance marketplace strongly preferred
  • Ideally currently with a portfolio of business that can be brought (though understand there may be a covenant period attached)
  • Good I.T. skills – Microsoft packages
  • Educated to ‘A’ level or degree level
  • Good Maths and English GCSE’s 
Personal qualities:
  • Independent thinker
  • Organised and detailed
  • Professional in manner and approach
  • Confident
  • A good listener
  • Team player
  • Happy to roll sleeves up and get involved 
  • Strong client relationship builder 
Duties: 
  1. Contact clients to discuss their needs and provide quotations to help manage their insolvency and any political risks.
  2. To at all times comply with FCA regulation and company procedures.
  3. Plan, develop and implement strategy for the acquisition of new clients in accordance with the group business development strategy.
  4. Develop and maintain relationships with professional networks to both promote the group and obtain client introductions.
  5. Assist other staff in the management and administration of clients and prospective clients. 
  6. Seek to promote and obtain referrals and new business for other members of the group. 
Nova Search & Selection is operating as an employment agency for this vacancy. To apply for this position please send your CV and a covering letter to Kristina Lushey at Kristina@novasearch.co.uk or call 0208-3937413.
Events & Offers
ICTF Global Credit Professionals Symposium, 22-24 April 2018. Chicago.
ICTF's Symposiums are known as the 'best in the industry' - the most superb educational and networking events for international credit management professionals - a forum for sharing of experience and exchange of best practices, providing unique practical insight and actionable ideas, real-time business intelligence, quality interaction and expert perspectives. Whether you are an experienced credit pro or new to the industry, attending the ICTF symposiums is a tremendous opportunity to learn from and network with over 150+ leading practitioners in the field. For more information go to http://www.ictfworld.org/events/EventDetails.aspx?id=1007962&group=. 
ICTF International Credit Professionals Symposium, 13-15 May 2018. Budapest.
ICTF's Symposiums are known as the 'best in the industry' - the most superb educational and networking events for international credit management professionals - a forum for sharing of experience and exchange of best practices, providing unique practical insight and actionable ideas, real-time business intelligence, quality interaction and expert perspectives. Whether you are an experienced credit pro or new to the industry, attending the ICTF symposiums is a tremendous opportunity to learn from and network with over 150+ leading practitioners in the field. For more information go to http://www.ictfworld.org/events/EventDetails.aspx?id=1030324&group=.
TXF Amsterdam: Natural Resources & Commodity Finance, 17 & 18 May, Amsterdam.
TXF is back in Amsterdam on 17 - 18 May for another two days of networking and analysis of the global commodity finance market. With senior speakers, interactive sessions and a guest list full of active deal-makers, TXF Amsterdam: Natural Resources & Commodity Finance has quickly established itself as the premier event in the commodity finance calendar.
Why attend?
  • A content-driven agenda featuring in-depth analysis of the market trends
  • A chance to get your groove on with potential business partners and make new connections
  • The perfect split between producers, traders, financiers, insurers, law firms and other key industry players
  • An expected 50% corporate attendance rate
  • Keynotes from industry heavyweights on new opportunities
  • Multiple session types with interactive innovative formats
  • he chance to earn 16 CPD points towards your professional development.
To find out more about the event, please visit the event website
TXF Global 2018: Export, Agency & Project Finance, 5-7 June, Prague. 
TXF Global 2018 has become the flagship event for the export, agency & project finance industry. Expect 1000 delegates, heaps of networking opportunities, stimulating content and industry-leading speakers!
If you work in export or project finance and are an exporter, borrower, bank, ECA, DFI/MFI, project sponsor, developer, law firm, insurer or government representative – this is the event of the year for you!
Why attend?
  • Meet with many potential business partners all under one roof, with multiple networking opportunities throughout the day
  • Closed door meetings for Borrowers, Private Insurance, Exporters and ECAs
  • SOEs and borrowers from fast-growing regions and sectors
  • An ideal demographic with an even split between corporates and financiers and large multinationals to smaller SMEs (50% corporate attendance expected)
  • Keynotes from export and project finance heavyweights: CEOs of ECAs, DFIs and large corporates
  • Multiple session types and dynamic networking formats to review product effectivity, innovation, and new markets
  • ECA direct lending, alternative lending and the changing role of commercial banking future mapped
  • A Highly-acclaimed industry event: ”Fantastic gathering of the industry leaders. A great place to find partners and future deals!” – International Business Development Director, BAM Nuttall. 
Find out more on the event website
About the Sponsor:  Canopius
Canopius writes global specialty (re)insurance.
We are one of the top 10 insurers in the Lloyd's insurance market and across the group wrote in excess of $1.2 billion premium in 2017. Our group was formed via a management buyout in December 2003, with £25m equity capital. Since then we have achieved significant growth through a mix of organic expansion and acquisition. We are privately owned, backed by private equity funding.
Canopius is domiciled in Zurich and operates in the UK, Ireland, Netherlands, Switzerland, Bermuda, US and Singapore. At Lloyd's, Canopius operates through Canopius Managing Agents Limited, which manages Syndicate 4444.
We offer a variety of insurance and reinsurance lines, covering Credit & Political Risk, Property, Marine, Energy, Engineering, Casualty, Accident & Health and Specialist Consumer Products.  Our Trade Credit insurance team provides a world-class receivables and payables solution for businesses and banks. We are experts in offering bespoke cover across trade credit, supply chain finance and trade finance and across a wide number of sectors and markets. The team writes comprehensive cover for:
  • Excess of loss insurance, covering both private and public buyers across the globe.
  • Single risk or named buyer insurance.
  • Captive solutions.
  • Cover for non-honouring of letters of credit, either individually or on a facility basis.
  • Supply chain finance solutions.
  • Supplier default insurance.
  • Structured trade finance solutions in conjunction with major banks.
  • Non-cancellable or cancellable buyer limits, depending on structure.
  • Policy tenor of up to seven years.
With close to 100 years’ combined experience, we take a tailored approach while always maintaining the highest of service levels.
The Canopius group is known for its superlative claims service, with a number of recent awards wins bearing testament to our reputation.
And finally…our name: Nathaniel Canopius was a Cretan scholar studying at Balliol College, Oxford, who is reputed to have brewed the first cup of coffee in England in 1637. Then in the 17th century, Edward Lloyd's coffee house became recognised as the place for obtaining marine insurance in London. Our name thus provides a strong association with the Lloyd's market, which remains at the core of our operations.

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