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  October 20th, 2015 | Written by

Global Energy Risk Continues to Accelerate: Coface Report

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Global credit insurer Coface has revised its risk assessment for three sectors: automotive, information technologies, and energy in all regions.

North America, the Coface report concluded, remains the least risky global region overall.

The fall in oil prices has led Coface to downgrade the energy sector in the three regions it follows, Western Europe, North America and emerging Asia. They now represent a “high” level of risk. The leading oil companies are reducing their investments, weakening the oil service companies.

North America remains hardest hit by the fall in oil prices, despite an economic upturn in the second quarter with a forecast growth of 2.5 percent for 2015 and 2016. Oil companies have cut back drastically on investment and exploration and are carrying a high level of debt. Meanwhile, prices are subject to downward pressure.

In Western Europe, the industry has been hit by some countries halting the development of shale gas operations and by the collapse in oil prices, forcing some companies to reduce capital expenditure. The impact has been less in emerging Asia, according to Coface, because “the public nature of the leading oil companies provides them with safeguards.”

The automotive industry is doing well in North America, thanks to increases luxury vehicle sales. In Western Europe, a return to growth is bringing hope to the sector, although the Volkswagen scandal could cloud that picture.

The situation is more difficult in emerging Asia, which Coface has downgraded to “medium” risk. Sales growth fell to 2.6 percent in China for the first eight months of 2015. The slowdown in the Chinese economy and increased competition impacted manufacturers, who must adapt to the new reality of less than the double-digit growth levels seen in the past.

The assessment for the information and communication technologies sector is now the same for all the geographic zones. Lower costs have contributed to maintaining demand and progress has been made in developing storage services for individuals. There is still market share for companies to capture.

Companies in emerging Asia could build on other developments, such as the development of 4G, noted the report. “In North America, players in the sector are faced with strong competitive pressure in telecommunications,” noted the report, “with new players such as Facebook and Google.”