Almost 5000 companies were reported to the corporate regulator for insolvent trading in 2017 — and high cash burn or inadequate cash flow was the main reason for corporate death.
Regulator ASIC’s 2016-2017 insolvency report found administrators reported 4878 cases of insolvent trading.
The next two major forms of misconduct were not undertaking director duties carefully and not keeping good financial records.
Companies that went insolvent did so because of money problems, poor strategic management and bad financial control.
While ASIC says the number of external administrator appointments was down 18.4 per cent in fiscal 2017, in the first half of the new financial year there have been a spate of colourful collapses in the small cap space.
AusAsia (ASX:AQJ) went under in August, after a revival in 2014 was thwarted by debt and recalcitrant shareholders. A last ditch effort in 2016 to buy a Ballarat gold mine fell through.
Also in August besieged uranium miner Paladin Energy (ASX:PDN) failed to sell a Namibian mine.
This month its shareholders were told administrators were compulsorily acquiring 98 per cent of their shares for nothing- and giving them to creditors who’d stumped up $US115 million ($153 million) to keep Paladin afloat.
Empire Oil and Gas (ASX:EGO) succumbed in September, after it defaulted on a $15 million loan with its largest shareholder.
Surfstitch (ASX:SRF) shareholders are still waiting for administrators to work their way through the online retailer’s tangled books, while also busily selling off assets.
Fresh in shareholders’ minds will be Stargroup (ASX:STL), which called in the administrators over three of its eight subsidiaries to try to limit the carnage.
CEO Todd Zani quit earlier this month after “differences of opinion” with the board.
ASIC says 84 per cent of insolvencies reported to it were small and medium businesses.