Appleby Reports Offshore Incorporation Activity

13 Nov, 2012

The number of offshore companies being registered in the first half of 2012 was up 9% from the previous six months, indicating that the markets continue to recover from the lows of early 2009, according to Appleby, the world’s largest provider of offshore legal, fiduciary and administration services. The findings are part of the firm’s inaugural On the Register report, which provides insight and data on company incorporations in offshore financial centres. The report concludes that jurisdictions such as the British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands and Mauritius likely will continue to remain attractive destinations for registering offshore businesses.

 

Globally, offshore new company registrations are slowly returning to the levels that were seen before the global recession. However, the report, which looks primarily at data for the first six months of 2012, sounds a cautionary note that there is still some volatility in the marketplace. For example, the number of new offshore company incorporations in the first half of 2012 represented a decrease of 4% on the same period a year earlier. Appleby will watch the registries closely to see if the volumes continue to stay at or above the 2011 levels as we reach the end of the year.

 

The report takes a look at incorporations in the British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Bermuda, the Crown Dependencies, Mauritius and Seychelles, and also provides insights into how activity in these jurisdictions compares to financial centres such as the UK and Hong Kong.

 

“Offshore jurisdictions remain pretty optimistic that they have a strong value proposition and remain attractive destinations for registering businesses,” said Farah Ballands, Partner and Appleby’s Global Head of Fiduciary and Administration. “A number of the offshore jurisdictions are showing a clear positive direction, with year-on-year increases in registration activity since 2009.”

 

While the number of new company registrations grew in the first half of 2012, with 41,556 new offshore incorporations, the report notes that the total number of active companies is actually down 4 percent from 833,086 in December 2011 to 801,168 through June 2012. However, the uptick in registrations from the previous six-month period shows there is still a healthy amount of activity going on across the offshore world.

 

Among the report’s other key findings are that in the first half of 2012:

  • The jurisdiction that is dominating offshore new company registration activity by volume is the British Virgin Islands, which has consistently maintained a six-fold lead ahead of its nearest comparator, the Cayman Islands.
  • The Cayman Islands is the fastest growth jurisdiction for new registrations, with a 13% increase since the previous six months.
  • The Seychelles is the offshore economy witnessing the greatest growth in activity, albeit that this jurisdiction’s data lags behind the other jurisdictions being tracked for this report. Between 2010 and 2011, company registrations in the Seychelles grew by 20%.
  • Bermuda remains an attractive place to incorporate with the number of new company incorporations maintaining a reassuringly steady flow over the last three years.
  • The UK and Hong Kong as onshore comparators, are showing signs of continued recovery with both annual registrations and total active companies showing year on year improvement. And the projected figures for the UK are looking to be 200,000 more active companies at the end of the year compared to 12 months previously.

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