Bankruptcy petitions fall below 1,000 mark

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 21 November, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 21 November, 2009, 12:00am

The number of individual monthly bankruptcy filings fell below 1,000 for the first time in a year last month, although the overall situation remains worse than at any time since the outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome more than five years ago.

The number of bankruptcy filings for October was 992, down 13 per cent month on month, although the figure represented a slight rise against a year ago, government figures show.

The filings took the total number of petitions this year to 13,872; during the same 10-month period last year there were 9,063 filings. Despite the fewer filings last month, the overall situation remains bleak - this year is already on track to record the most petitions since the Sars outbreak in 2003, when the number hit 22,092.

Of the 992 petitions last month, 54 were submitted by creditors, the lowest number since April.

The 10-month tally for petitions presented by creditors was 741, slightly worse than the 717 petitions recorded in the same period a year ago.

The number of compulsory winding-up petitions for businesses also fell to 60 last month, from 61 in September and from 66 a year ago.

The number of compulsory winding-up petitions in the first 10 months of this year increased almost a quarter year on year, to 649 from 521.

During the Sars outbreak, the number of monthly personal bankruptcy petitions regularly rose to more than 2,000, compared to an average of several hundred in the aftermath of the Asian financial crisis.

Despite the loss of personal wealth and the downturn in global trade, Hong Kong's economy grew 0.4 per cent in the third quarter of this year over the previous quarter, and further narrowed the year-on-year decline to 2.4 per cent.

Bankruptcy data is a lagging indicator, usually by between six and 12 months, and does not necessarily reflect the current economic situation.