The keys to the resilience of French companies in 2022

In an economic context marked by unprecedented challenges, French companies have demonstrated a remarkable capacity for resilience. To better understand the key factors of this resilience and the prospects for corporate financing in France, we had the pleasure of speaking with Frédéric Visnovsky, Mediator of corporate credit and President of the Observatoire du financement des entreprises.

In this exclusive interview, Visnovsky discusses in depth the tasks and essential role of credit mediation, as well as the main findings of the Observatory's annual report on the state of corporate financing at the end of 2022. It highlights the strategies adopted by French companies to overcome the repercussions of the COVID-19 crisis and the challenges of the current economic context.

Can you briefly remind us what are the missions and key role of the Business Credit Mediation Service?

"The mission is very simple. Do not leave a company alone to face its difficulties in accessing bank financing or credit insurance. This is a mission that was created during the 2008 crisis, which is carried out by the branches of the Banque de France, in all our territories. Accessing our services is simple, directly online, on our website. The objective of the mediator is to bring the company and its financial institution closer together, to find a response to the need expressed by the company, since the latter requires mediation following a refusal."

To whom and to what, is this result mainly due?

"I chair this observatory as a credit ombudsman. Apart from the supervision of the departmental mediators, the interest of this observatory is that it brings together both representatives of companies, such as the MEDEF, the CPME, the U2P, the consular chambers, the chambers of trades and crafts, and all the major French banks with the French Banking Federation, crowdfunding, and then the public authorities, through the Banque de France, INSEE, the Treasury services. The objective of this observatory is to draw up a consensual overview of the situation of our companies and their financing. Indeed, the report published in June shows a very strong resilience of French companies that have been able to admirably get through the COVID-19 crisis, then face the difficulties related to the Ukrainian crisis, with its cohort of energy issues, inflation, etc. So, what's the point? I believe that this resilience is based on three main aspects."

"The first is 'whatever it takes'. The objective of the "whatever it takes" approach was to maintain activities and jobs; there was therefore a massive inflow of cash in the form of grants, in particular with State-guaranteed loans. Of course, the State has gone into debt with this system, but what would have been the cost if entire sectors of activities and associated jobs had been allowed to disappear? This system has largely contributed to the rebound we experienced in 2021, after the shock of 2020."

"The second aspect outlined in this report is the natural dynamism of our companies. Failures are often mentioned. The number of insolvencies is indeed increasing, and it mainly concerns very small companies. However, in parallel with this phenomenon, the number of business creations is absolutely considerable in France, much higher than the number of disappearances, of which only a small part concerns insolvencies. This result reflects the entrepreneurial momentum of our fellow citizens, which is absolutely remarkable."

"And then the third element that seems important to me is the support of companies. This support has been and still is provided by the Credit Mediation Service, of course, but also by consular networks and State services, the objective being never to leave companies alone in the face of the difficulties described above."

"We are therefore dealing here with a combination of several factors that has favoured the ability of French companies to bounce back."