Small and medium-sized enterprises
Access to bank loans remains difficult for SMEs, says ECB report
By Ophélie Spanneut | Friday 27 April 2012
Access to loans from banks is deteriorating for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs): such is the conclusion that can be gleaned from the figures in the sixth European Central Bank (ECB) report on access to financing for eurozone SMEs. The study was carried out between October 2011 and March 2012, spanning 7,511 enterprises.
Some 17% of SMEs reported access to finance as their main problem. This figure represents a slight increase compared with the 2011 results, when 16% viewed things this way. It is, however, an improvement on 2009, when 19% of SMEs reported this problem. The difference between countries is noteworthy: it is less of a concern in France, Germany and Finland, but SMEs in Greece, Ireland and Portugal encounter more difficulties accessing finance. Be that as it may, the main preoccupation for SMEs remains finding clients. Bank financing is the primary source of external financing. And yet, access to bank loans has continued to deteriorate in the last six months, even more so for SMEs than for large firms. Between October 2011 and May 2012, 25% of SMEs applied for a loan - but 13% did not get it. By comparison, this figure was 10% in the second quarter of 2009.
The situation is even more preoccupying for micro-enterprises (1-9 employees): 20% of them saw their loan application rejected, compared with 15% in the first quarter of 2011.
These figures were recorded in a morose economic context, given that 2% of eurozone SMEs recorded a drop in their turnover. Building enterprises were particularly affected: 17% saw their turnover drop. Entrepreneurs are blaming the cost of labour and the price of energy.