Until fifteen years ago, Laurent Lheraud patiently waited for its cognac production to age so that it could be sold. “A sine qua non condition for making a good product”, he says, before specifying that, “of course”, this is not enough to make “a great cognac”. To launch production, his bank agreed to give him a loan on the basis of its future sales. But not much more. In any case, not enough to invest in developing your brand.
And then one day, he learns that one of his colleagues has found a way to enhance dormant nectar before it has reached maturity. “I was told that I could get a more financing if I put my stock as collateral, he explains. It was a turning point: the funds allowed us to double our range of vintages. The family business has clearly passed a milestone. »
This alternative financing method to a classic bank loan is called the stock pledge. For the moment, this market only represents in France 2.5 billion euros in outstanding guaranteed loans. A drop of water on the 1.214 billion of outstanding business loans. But it could well grow in the years to come.
Factoring twenty years ago
“At present, the stock pledge is at the same level as factoring twenty years ago”, estimates Arben Bora, President of Auxiga, the French leader in third-party holders. These intermediaries ensure, on behalf of banks or other lenders, that stocks pledged are still there, ready to be seized in case of default.
If factoring makes the boss of Auxiga dream, it is because in fifteen years, it has become the main source of financing for companies with a market of more than 327 billion euros, ahead of the overdraft. In 2021, this tool which allows a company to receive the money from an invoice before its payment by the customer recorded an annual growth of 12.7% compared to 2020, and 2.8% compared to 2019 , despite competition from state-guaranteed loans, which caused the market to fall in 2020.
For players in the sector, the elements are in place for the stock pledge to take off in turn. Since 2016, several legislative texts have simplified the practice. Recently, “the Pacte law has enabled a reform of security rights, the ordinance of which came into force this year, explains Hélène Payen, lawyer at the firm Vivien & Associés who accompanies lenders. This has notably widened the range of assets that can be pledged by a company as well as removed obsolete securities. »
Thus, certain items such as solar panels placed on a company’s office building can now be pledged.
The end of support measures
The development of digital technology could also play a role. “It was when you no longer had to physically deposit your invoices that factoring took off, assures Benoît Robet, who runs the Haro company, another third-party holder who is betting on everything digital. For companies, this greatly simplifies the procedures. »
Finally, professionals in the sector believe that with the end of state support measures, companies’ access to financing will be more restricted. The pledge on stock could therefore be a necessary alternative. The deposit is there, according to specialists in the sector, who estimate the total amount of business stocks at 700 billion euros that could be valued by this method. Currently, only 3 billion euros of stocks are pledged.
The pledge on stock is not intended to replace conventional financing solutions such as overdraft, factoring or loan, nuance Arben Bora. “On the other hand, it is a good complement when, for example, a company has reached too high a debt ratio,” he says. The other side of the coin: the lender can impose a possessory pledge on stock. In other words, the company no longer has full access to its merchandise, if at all. An additional security for the lender, but which makes the pill more difficult for the company to swallow.