The rate of going concern opinions (GCOs) has been rising among northern European companies over the past decade. At the start of the decade, about 2% of companies headquartered in Scandinavian countries received a going concern opinion. GCOs peaked during fiscal year (FY) 2019 at nearly 6% due to the pandemic. But GCOs were still elevated during FY2020 at more than 4%.
Northern European countries refer to Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark, and Iceland.
Sweden is the largest public market in northern Europe, with approximately 600 listed companies. The country has seen a steady increase in the rate GCOs over the past ten years. In FY2011, Sweden had a 1% GCO rate, growing to 3.3% in FY2020. The GCO rate peaked during FY2019 at 5.1%.
Denmark opened the previous decade with a GCO rate of 2.5%. GCOs slowly decreased over the decade until reaching zero in FY2017 and FY2018. Denmark then saw the GCO rate grow to 2.1% in FY2019 and then 3.7% in FY2020.
Recent GCOs were driven by companies in the transportation industry.
Finland experienced a steady increase in GCOs throughout the previous decade. In FY2011, the GCO rate was below 1%. However, by FY2020, the GCO rate grew to 5.8%.
Most GCOs are received by the same Finnish companies annually.
Norway had the highest rate of GCOs in the region. GCOs in Norway peaked during FY2019 due to the pandemic. Companies in the oil & gas, transportation, and services industries were particularly impacted. The impacts on oil & gas and transportation companies continued during FY2020, while services companies mostly recovered.
As of 2020, Iceland had the smallest economy in northern Europe, with only 22 listed companies. No Icelandic company has received a GCO during the past decade.
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