Loans guaranteed by the state: “I don’t know if I can pay”, the time to count has arrived

Companies must start paying state-guaranteed loans (PGE) taken out during the health crisis. When most have started to pay, for others, it is not so simple…

There can be no more postponement, now the companies must start paying the state-guaranteed loans (PGE) contracted during the health crisis, and if most have met their deadlines, the situation critical for some, forced to call their banks leniency.

How to reimburse PGE equal to 15% of my turnover if the turnover is 20% less than before the crisis? It can’t be done. Patrick Bellity, foundry boss Sifa Technologies, sums up the problem he is currently facing.

“I don’t know if I can pay”

The company, already weakened by the diesel crisis at the end of the 2010s, subscribed to a PGE in the middle of 2020. The businessman negotiated a delay until November 2022 in his first payment. And after that? “ I don’t know if I can pay because I don’t know what my order level is in the fall “, he released.

According to the Banque de France, at nearly 700,000 companies subscribe to a PGE for more than 148 billion euros in total, the default rate barely reaches 3%.

With few exceptions, companies have started paying as planned “, we said in Bercy, where the crisis exit committee created in mid-2021 was piloted.

“There is no room for maneuver”

But these reassuring statistics should not hide the real difficulties of some companies.

As for the tourist group Pierre et Vacances, was forced to a backup plan and saw its PGE converted to capital of more than 200 million euros, bringing creditors to the group’s shareholding.

In the hotel and catering industry, where many companies take PGEs, one in four companies said at the end of June that they had not been able to honor their reimbursements, in a context where inflation is holding back spending. of consumers.

The situation is also tense in tourism where ” many companies, hit hard by the pandemic, demand the maximum authorized PGE, ie (an amount equal to) 25% of turnover. Paying it back over four years is really complicated “, worried Yvon Peltanche, representative of the professional association Entreprises du voyage.

He himself procures many PGEs for his network of travel agencies. He has no trouble paying in the short term but has ” there is no room for maneuver if the activity slows down, because he is already afraid of the troubles expected in air transport this summer.

Credit mediation

Companies in difficulty can request the restructuring of their PGE through credit mediation, through a specific mechanism negotiated between the State and the banks, which in particular makes it possible to extend the payment period up to 10 years.

Currently, only 300 cases have been processed through credit mediation, a number ” very low “, a sign that the financial situation of the companies remains positive, according to mediator Frédéric Visnovsky.

However, many companies are not aware of the existence of this 10-year shock mechanism, and many avoid it because it lowers their rating and complicates their financing.

If you are in default, the credit insurers will withdraw, which means you will have to pay your suppliers immediately, and that will only make the situation worse. “, also advances François Asselin, president of CPME, who believes that companies are likely to “ preferred collective procedures that freeze debts » (protection plan, receivership, liquidation, etc.)

We know this is difficult, but PGE is a bank loan, so the banks apply the rules », Fixed at the European level, we will answer Bercy.

The Banque de France, on which the credit intermediation depends, may soon revise the forecasts of the number of companies that cannot pay their PGE, recognized Frédéric Visnovsky.

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