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S&P: Global corporate defaults surge to 2nd highest since 2009

Global corporate defaults rose 43% year over year in 2019 to 117 — the second-highest reading since 2009 — led by defaults in the oil and gas sector, S&P Global Ratings said in a report.

Of the total, 20 oil and gas sector companies defaulted during 2019, while the retail and restaurant sector followed with 16 defaults in the year. The telecommunication sector saw the highest increase in defaults annually to eight in 2019 from two in the previous year.

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In regional terms, the U.S. led corporate defaults in 2019 with a count of 77, up from 47 in 2018. Corporate defaults in emerging markets rose to 22 in 2019 from 17 in 2018, while those in Europe increased to 15 from 13, S&P Global Ratings said.

Distressed exchanges was the leading cause of defaults in 2019, in line with the trend seen over the last four years, the report said. Missed principal or interest payments and defaults on financial obligations caused 34 defaults during the year.

The most recent companies to default since S&P Rating's mid-December 2019 update include Lebanon-based banks Bank Audi SAL, BankMed SAL and BLOM BANK SAL; France-based consumer products supplier Novartex; U.K.-based restaurant chain PizzaExpress Financing 1 PLC; and Illinois-based information technology company 4L Technologies Inc.