PwC survey shows companies are finding it easier to access money than 2 years ago and have a strong focus on the protection of funds

PwC survey shows companies are finding it easier to access money than 2 years ago and have a strong focus on the protection of funds

A majority of companies say it's easier to access funding now than it was two years ago, according to a survey by auditing and financial advisory firm PwC.

The firm's inaugural Corporate Treasury Survey shows 53% of respondents believe it's easier to get money now than it was two years ago. In contrast 36% of respondents said there had been no change and 11% said it had become harder to raise money. Breaking it down to small, medium sized, and large firms, 63% of medium sized organisations are finding it easier compared with 48% of large firms and 45% of small businesses.

"Access to funding is perceived to be getting easier for New Zealand corporates which should have a positive flow-on impact for New Zealand's investment activity and economic growth," says PwC.

The latest Reserve Bank sector credit figures show business debt rose 2% in the year to January to NZ$74.2 billion. Of the banks, BNZ is growing lending to businesses the most, based on the latest general disclosure statements, lifting lending to businesses (including farmers) by NZ$571 million in the December quarter.

Meanwhile, the most popular type of debt, at 62%, is bank debt followed by bonds at 13% and credit facilities at 8%, PwC says. The responses here also varied between organisations of different size, with big companies having a smaller percentage of their total debt as bank loans at 51%, compared with 67% at medium sized entities and 72% at small firms.

Bigger companies favour fixed interest rates

The bigger the company, the more likely it is to have more of its borrowings at fixed, as opposed to floating, interest rates. Survey responses from large organisations show a 62% to 38% fixed-floating split, compared with 59% to 41% from medium sized firms and 48% to 52% from small firms. This contrasts with residential mortgage borrowers with Reserve Bank data showing 62%, of home loans by value, on floating interest rates at the end of January, more than double the 26% in December 2009.

Paul Skillender, a PwC partner specialising in corporate treasury services, said perhaps this suggests individuals and small businesses have a higher risk appetite or that large corporates are more disciplined with formal treasury policies setting out they'll fix a certain percentage, or amount, of their borrowings thus providing greater budget and cash flow certainty.

The survey results also show that for the 92% of respondents with debt, 44% have lengthened the duration of their borrowings over the past two years, 24% have shortened it and 32% haven't changed it.

Surprise, surprise security the most important investment principle

In contrast to the different fixed versus floating attitude across firms of different sizes, there's no such divergence in terms of their most important investment principles. They were asked about security, liquidity and yield in terms of relative importance when investing. Security was ranked top by 70% of respondents, with liquidity and yield each ranked top by 15%.

"Not surprisingly, protection of funds invested and their repayment at maturity is the number one priority for the majority of respondents following the international experience of the 2008-09 global financial crisis and the sovereign debt crisis in Europe, along with the local finance company collapses of the last few years," says PwC.

"Going forward, it will be interesting to see whether there are any significant movements in importance in these investment principles. In particular, will more New Zealand corporates begin to chase yield once confidence in the global financial situation returns?"

PwC's survey received 95 responses between July and November 2011. Small companies were deemed to be those with a turnover of up to NZ$100 million, medium organisations those with a turnover of between NZ$100 million and NZ$500 million, and large ones those with turnover greater than NZ$500 million. Of the respondents, 27% were from small organisations, 38% from medium sized ones, and 35% from large organisations.

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