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A guide to debt finance and refinancing for business in 2017

Are you running out of cash waiting for the business to make a profit or can't collect money in fast enough?

Almost all businesses need to go through periodic refinancing exercises, whether replacing bank facilities, renewing overdrafts, obtaining bank term loans, EFG loan guarantees scheme loans, factoring/ invoice discounting or capital expenditure requirements. This is normal business practice.

Raising working capital is an important plank in any growth plan. Since the banking crises of 2008 and new rules being imposed raising finance has become more difficult and more hassle.

Where a company has encountered a significant downturn event or is under pressure, then the directors must consider whether raising further finance against assets is the solution to their problems. As the current market for business changes and evolves almost daily, we cannot provide an exhaustive list of the financial products available but we give a simple guide to the options available to you below.

We assume that the business is not a prime candidate for lending and that it needs working capital.

If you need fast, flexible finance, fill in our form and we will get back to you as soon as we can. 

Refinancing:

Remember, this section is not designed for ordinary business financing solutions, rather it is for companies under pressure, who need to find adequate working capital.

Consider the products, weigh them up against the circumstances you find yourself in and decide. If you want help to decide and find the most appropriate suppliers of finance, please contact us. We know and have access to dozens of providers of these products and can point out the pros and cons of each.

Bank Overdraft
Enterprise Finance Guarantee Loans
Factoring and Invoice Discounting
Asset Refinance
Stock Finance
Business Angel Investment
Venture Capital
Directors Loans
Credit Card Merchant Advance
Crowdfunding
Peer to peer finance
Company Voluntary Arrangement

After all that are you confused? Want help to decide what is appropriate? Contact us - call us FREE on 08009700539 or fill out the contact us form.

Bank Overdraft

It may be possible to obtain temporary increases in facilities from the bank although due to new regulations (BASEL III) banks are keener to convert overdrafts into loans. If the problem can be demonstrated to be short lived the bank will often want to try and help. If the problem looks more deep-seated the bank may want more investment from third parties (you). Prepare good information, your team's arguments and talk to the bank - early enough. Don't wait until you cannot pay PAYE and VAT as this is a sign that the company is probably insolvent. Rarely will banks allow extension of facilities for this purpose.

If, however, your business looks like turning the corner you could offer to provide additional personal security such as personal guarantees (PG) secured against your home. If you are not prepared to back your hunch with a PG, then ask yourself why should the bank provide money at increased risk to the bank?

Advantages
Decision making process is usually short - if you have good information to give the bank. The existing relationship is very valuable - banks don't like losing customers. It may ask for more detailed work to be done on the figures, (despite the cost) this can a be valuable exercise. It may help pave the way to other financial products from the bank in future.

Disadvantages
If the bank cannot see how its money can be repaid (serviceability) or cannot see how it can get the money back in the event of liquidation (security) they will not lend. Ill-prepared requests for funds will be looked upon less favourably. The bank may want a third view and ask for investigating accountants to examine the business. It may be more costly than existing finance.

The bank will probably want more security from the company and the directors - personal guarantees may be demanded or increased if already in place. 

Enterprise Finance Guarantee Scheme

A government backed loan scheme to assist SMEs (small to medium enterprises) with working capital requirements. Typically the DeBIS (Government Business Department) underwrite up to 75% of the loan. Banks vary in their approach to the scheme but the DeBIS is actively encouraging its use.

Advantages
It can be good value but is never quick to raise this type of loan. The investment criteria are perhaps less stringent than non-guaranteed facilities. Capital and or interest holidays can usually be agreed. For distressed companies this can be a lifeline while they return to profitability.

If you need to raise this type of loan remember it cannot be used to service arrears of VAT and PAYE. Being behind with tax payments  is likely to lead to a  rejection of any proposal for an EFG loan.

Disadvantages
Not all applications are approved of course. If the company is clearly distressed the bank and or the DeBIS may reject applications. Can you raise enough to provide a solution and adequate working capital whilst you return to profit? Can you service the loan? Merely creating more debt is not a solution where radical surgery may be needed. Think of a CVA and restructure the company's fixed and viable costs AND improve working capital.

Factoring & Invoice Discounting

You essentially sell the debtor book (customers that owe your company money) to a factoring company who then provide the company with working capital advances (effectively a loan) against that asset. They will provide from 50-95% advance against the debtor book and charge around 0.33% to 2% depending on the number of invoices, the quality of the debtor book and how much work is required.

Usually all your future invoices pass through the system and this sharply improves cashflow. Not any more seen as "lending of last resort" factoring is a very powerful tool and there are some excellent factoring companies providing multiple working capital products to tens of thousands of UK businesses nowadays.

Some companies can now even offer finance based on one invoice! Call Keith Steven if that product would be helpful to you. This can be used, for example, if you are selling some products to one new customer. The provider just looks at the history of the debtor. Talk to KSA if you need a new factor, specific spot factoring or just some guidance.

Factoring means that the customers know you are borrowing money against their invoices from you. Confidential invoice discounting (CID) usually means this lending is discrete and the customer doesn't know.


Advantages

If your debtor control is poor this can help. It is an extremely flexible form of finance - the facility can rise and fall as your needs dictate. If the company is under pressure and your sales are growing it is a vital tool. Finding the right factor can lead to much more efficient use of your assets and the ability to plan production or activity - thereby creating improved efficiency.

If your business is growing this can grow with you, if sales are shrinking it can be a flexible facility but see below.

Disadvantages
Concentration in one or two customers can cause difficulties. It is perceived as expensive - but it is providing the commodity you need - money. Most banks have a factoring division - they may not be suitable for your business - shop around. BUT in the current climate big bank factoring facilities are less flexible than the small more nimble factoring companies.
Any bank overdraft is normally repaid from the advance from the factor (the bank's main security is sold to the factor). If you have very low margins or your debtors pay very slowly (more than 80 days) it is not generally suitable.

Talk to Keith Steven on 07833 240747 if you need to find new flexible factoring or CID facilities

Asset Refinance or Asset Based Lending (ABL)

Most companies depreciate their assets faster than the value of those assets fall. Therefore, there are often "unencumbered" assets to lend against. The assets of the business form collateral for the lender to secure themselves against.

Assets can include, property, machinery, stock (see stock finance). Used in conjunction with, say, factoring, this method can provide a package of new finance to overcome distress.

Advantages
It is usually a very quick method, access can be through commercial finance brokers or other contacts. Contact us by email for help if required. Where a short term crisis (say a large bad debt) has occurred this method can help the company round the problem very quickly by efficiently using its assets to raise cash. Better quality assets such as land and buildings can attract good rates of interest. In 2015-16 there are many new players offering refinance and asset based lending at good rates.

Disadvantages
Raising finance this way is not cheap. Where the company has unencumbered assets it is tempting to raise cash against them but remember NB: If the crisis is longer term can your company service the debt repayments?

Call us for a CVA now! Costs vary but rates of interest on refinancing assets (i.e. where previous debts are repaid and fresh advances made) can be as high as 30%. The value of assets is established by the lender - it is never as much as you expect.

Stock Finance (very limited availability)

A form of asset finance. Where the business carries stocks that are easily value-able and resold (such as retail or wholesale or where manufacturers hold stock for clients) then stock finance can be raised. The value of stock is usually much less than that on the balance sheet and lenders lend according to their own valuations.

Advantages
As part of a package of measures stock finance can be useful. It can often be flexible and longer term advances can help cope with trade cycle ups and downs. It can be relatively quick to organise.

Disadvantages
It can be costly and the stock will never be worth as much as you think. The security may be difficult to assign. If the bank has a debenture in place any finance raised may be taken by them to mitigate the exposure anyway.

Business Angel Investment

The classic UK equity gap problem is getting worse. Too small for venture capital and too big a risk for the bank - where to turn? Angels can provide a mixture of loans and equity to distressed or struggling businesses. Most come from a business background and have lots of experience. They usually take a longer term view and can greatly assist the directors grow the company.

Advantages
With bags of experience an angel can be just what the growing or struggling company needs. Chose carefully and the relationship can be very fruitful. The funds can be flexible and inexpensive. Further rounds of funding can be available. The fact that an investor is putting money in can also help persuade the bank to increase funds available.

Disadvantages
Chemistry can be difficult - they are going to be involved long term therefore will take time choosing their investments. Equity: they will want to hold shares in the company and the depth of the distress or pressure will determine how big a slice they require. Paucity: there are thousands of angels but finding an appropriate angel, convincing them to get involved and getting finance can take many months. Control: many angels will want control at board level.
B
UT isn't it better to own say 75% of a company with value than 100% of nothing?

Speak to Keith Steven on 07833 240747 if you think this is a product that you need.

Angel investors often want to see debts restructured either through a CVA or a pre pack. Be warned they never want to risk their money to plug a gap for tax payments for your company, if the company fails they may pick the assets up is a common view.

So ask yourself should the company be restructured with a  CVA and hive out BEFORE any new funding comes in? (click links to read more on these powerful tools).

Venture Capital

Most small businesses in trouble are NOT suitable for Venture Capital. VCs invest in around 1 in 1,000 applications for finance and unless there is a huge growth potential and an almost unique nature to the business it will not get venture capital. If however the company is unusual in the above regard, then contact us by email keiths@ksagroup.co.uk with a synopsis and we will look at the options with you.

Advantages
Most directors are aware that equity is "cheaper" than debt. Having a quality non executive director to help guide the board (a pre-requisite of most VCs) is also a big plus. The company's reputation and PR are enhanced. Where growth is achieved and prospects remain good, the ability to raise further finance is enhanced.

Disadvantages
Classically, shareholder directors see the dilution of their equity as a no-go area. Would you rather have 40% of a company worth £10m or 100% of a company worth £1m? VCs only part with money after thorough due diligence, it is hard work and costly. In the end you may not get the money. Only the best management teams with the best ideas win through. It is very time consuming - in a distress situation do you have 3-9 months to wait?

No! Use a CVA or pre-pack to restructure the costs, overheads and debts. Then a business angel or VC investor may be interested. Call Keith Steven 07974 086779 for more details.

Directors' Loans

It may be possible for the directors or senior people to raise funds privately. This can then be loaned to the firm. Tax efficient repayment may mitigate the PAYE due on directors pay. But if the company is insolvent, repaying your loans in advance of the creditors may contravene the law.

In the event of a liquidation, the monies may have to be repaid to the company! This is a possible minefield.

Security may be taken for the directors loans - but this is a complex area and needs proper advice.

Beware you could create a potential preference (s239 Insolvency Act 1986) if you put money into an insolvent company and then pay yourself back!! Call Keith Steven for smart, expert advice 08009700539 or 07974 086779.

Advantages
It is cheap, you remain in control of the financial process. It is usually a quick method to raise finance. But be warned, taking out second mortgages will require showing the lender the company's accounts. You can repay the loan as convenient to cashflow. It can carry zero interest (you can however charge interest). Personal loans are now more freely available.

In 2016 mortgage providers lent less than 30% of the amounts in 2007. A distressed set of accounts will make borrowing harder. You can of course use credit cards and personal loans (unsecured) but the lending criteria for these product have also hardened. Remember if you lend the money to the company and then take it back out BEFORE liquidation, this is a breach of s.239 Insolvency Act 1986.

Disadvantages
If you had lots of money it would probably already be invested in the business? Can you afford the repayments personally? If the company fails you still have to repay the loans. The bank may take some of their existing advance back after the funds are introduced. Finally, is the money you can raise really ENOUGH money to solve the company's problems?

New Finance products

Crowdfunding

There are several web based crowd funding sites. Essentially you pitch to the investors and if they like your model they will provide equity or debt to the business. You will need a GREAT pitch, good accounting information, forecasts and a business plan.   Read more about crowdfunding here.  This particular type of funding has seen explosive growth in the last year with hundreds of companies now offering shares.

Peer to peer finance

Investors or companies can lend finance directly to businesses in exchange for interest. Those in need of finance can create a pitch which is then passed from the peer-to-peer platform (e.g. Funding Circle) to investors. 

Call Keith Steven now for a guide to this innovative route to financing your business.

Short term loan providers

Advantages. Quick and easy

Disadvantages - only up to £50,000, set criteria and a personal guarantee will be needed.

Credit card finance merchant loans

This is like factoring above. Effectively you obtain a loan against the future credit card receipts in the business. So if you had sales of £100,000 on credit or debit cards last year; you can borrow £10,000-£12,000 against this. Great for a short term tax problem say, and relatively easy to obtain with no security; but a Personal Guarantee (PG) will be required.

KSA can now offer this facility to eligible clients CLICK HERE for full details

If you have a funding requirement have you thought about postponing ALL unsecured debts, collecting in debtors and work in progress and cutting costs? This huge increase in working capital is the impact a company voluntary arrangement can make.

So if the bank says no we can say yes!

We have also partnered up with Cheswick Capital. See details below;

CClogo Standard medium

Cheswick Capital specialises in 4M!

Raising MONEY for new start or growth companies; MANAGEMENT SUPPORT, non executive directors, expert guides in your long journey to success. MENTORING directors of fast growth companies, providing access to grey hair investors with ability to invest in your company. MERGERS ACQUISITIONS, Cheswick will buy your distressed company or business. Or advise on how to sell the assets before a formal insolvency may be required.

Looking for solutions that will help your company grow? turnaround finance?, or do not know which way to turn? Want to sell to a third party? Contact Cheswick Capital today.

9 Devonshire Square
London
EC2M 4YF

T:020 7416 6677
E: info@cheswickcapital.co.uk

If you're concerned about your business, request our free 40-page expert guide for directors, answering everything from personal guarantees to rescue options.

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