No more postponement possible. From now on, companies must start repaying state-guaranteed loans (PGE) taken out during the health crisis. ” With a few exceptions, companies have started reimbursing as planned “, we confirm in Bercy, where the crisis exit committee created in mid-2021 is piloted. According to the Banque de France, of the nearly 700,000 companies having subscribed to a PGE for more than 148 billion euros in total, the default rate could reach barely 3%, much less than the 7% estimated at launch in March. 2020. A rather positive estimate confirmed by the Court of Auditors, which judges, in a report published Monday that the device ” made it possible to support the supply of credit by the banks and to avoid massive bankruptcies of companies in an unprecedented context of crisis “.
Among the sectors that have most requested this system during the crisis: companies in the hotel and catering industry (more than 50%), service companies (40%) and shops (35%). ” The choice of a simple device, the distribution of which was delegated to the banks, proved relevant to ensure rapid deployment of loans and restore the confidence of economic actors. “, Estimates the Court of Auditors.
While at the start of the launch, some feared that EMPs would disproportionately help companies ” not viable », the sages of the rue Cambon judge that this phenomenon turned out to be minimal: « The selection made by the banks has made it possible to limit the share of “zombie” companies to less than 2.5% among the beneficiaries “. Finally : ” The scheme has effectively made it possible to support viable companies affected by the crisis “, Estimates the Court of Auditors, which adds that” the level of loans taken out and the choices for amortization of PGEs appear globally consistent with the financial situation of companies, which is reassuring about their ability to meet repayments“.
Concerns for the future
Nevertheless, if these statistics and these assessments are rather reassuring, they should not hide the real difficulties of certain companies. In the hotel and catering industry, for example, where many companies have subscribed to PGEs, one in four companies claimed at the end of June that they were unable to honor their reimbursements, in a context where inflation is curbing consumer spending. . The situation is also tense in tourism where “ many companies, hit hard by the pandemic, have requested the maximum authorized PGE, i.e. (an amount corresponding to) 25% of turnover. Reimbursing it over four years is really complicated “, worries Yvon Peltanche, representative of the professional association Entreprises du voyage.
In addition, the deterioration of the economic outlook for the coming months is worrying. ” We are starting to see signs of erosion of order books » companies and, « if the activity crumbles, it can be complicated “, warns François Asselin, president of the CPME, quoted by AFP. ” When you are in default, the credit insurers withdraw, which means that you have to pay your suppliers immediately, and that only makes the situation worse. “, he says, believing that companies will tend to “ prefer collective procedures that freeze debts (safeguard plan, receivership, liquidation, etc.).
In the current context, which is very uncertain from an economic point of view, the Court of Auditors also insists on the need not to neglect the ” crisis exit support tools “. At the risk of seeing the difficulties – today ” relatively circumscribed » – accentuate. ” The companies deemed most at risk by the Court will have to devote more than 9% of their monthly turnover to the repayment of PGE and Urssaf debts, and individual entrepreneurs (3% of PGEs by amount, but 19% of beneficiaries) appear particularly vulnerable “, anticipates the Court of Auditors.
In this regard, the Banque de France’s national credit mediator, Frédéric Visnovsky, reminds companies that are having difficulty repaying their PGE maturities that they should not hesitate to contact credit mediation to find solutions. As a public system, credit mediation aims to re-establish dialogue between the company and its financial partners, and to facilitate the search for common solutions. ” It is better to take the lead, anticipate, do it as soon as possible, rather than putting things off “, he underlines.
Companies in difficulty can ask to restructure their PGE through credit mediation, via a specific mechanism negotiated between the State and the banks, which in particular makes it possible to extend the repayment period up to 10 years. However, many companies are unaware of the existence of this staggering mechanism and many others shun it because it downgrades their rating and complicates their financing. For the moment, only 300 cases have been processed by credit mediation, a figure ” very low “, a sign that the financial situation of companies remains positive, according to the mediator Frédéric Visnovsky.
Will the start of the school year be more difficult for companies? ” We will have to see at the start of the school year how things evolve (…). We remain vigilant and mobilized because we can clearly see that the economic environment is less favorable, given the Ukrainian crisis “, emphasizes Frédéric Visnovsky again. The latter does not hide that the Banque de France, on which credit mediation depends, could soon revise upwards its forecasts on the number of companies unable to repay their PGE.