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Financing Imported Machinery Continued

Tuesday, July 28th, 2009

OK , so we have discussed the options for making payment to the supplier but what is the best way to pay for the machinery and what are the best finance options?

The majority of foreign suppliers will either invoice in euros or US dollars. The finance company will book the foreign currency to provide an exact exchange rate and use the sterling equivalent on your documentation.

At this point it is worth mentioning that finance companies are not importers and it is either the supplier, their UK agent or the customer to make sure the necessary arrangements in terms of VAT numbers, import duties etc are made with the appropriate import authorities.

Although the  foreign suppliers invoice will have NO VAT as soon as a UK finance company raises either a hire purchase or finance lease document VAT becomes payable. If hire purchase is required all the VAT becomes payable in advance to the finance company. AS with any finance lease facility Vat is only paid on the deposit amount and the remainder of the VAT is paid on the monthly repayments.

However with the correct documentation and structure it is possible to provide a Vat neutral hire purchase deal so no physical payment is actually made. This only works where foreign suppliers and is structured as follows.

Instead of invoicing the finance company, the foreign supplier raises an invoice direct to the customer in euros or whatever the foreign currency maybe. The customer raises an invoice to the finance company for the sterling equivalent and because this is a UK invoice VAT must be applied. The customer will request that the proceeds of the invoice will be paid direct to the  supplier.

The finance company prepare their hire purchase documents and the Vat on the HP doc cancels out the Vat on the customers invoice. By doing the deal in this way the customer in affect becomes the UK agent and is normal practice for a standard agency agreement to entered into before the transaction commences.

Financing Imported Machinery

Monday, July 27th, 2009

Financing imported machinery can be quite a complex issue. Often the supplier will requiring paying up front however the finance company is loathed to release payment before the equipment is delivered to the customers premises.

More often than not a common sense approach can be reached whereby an amount equal to deposit is paid across to the supplier to provide some commitment. Providing the supplier is provided with some form of evidence that a hire purchase or finance lease facility has been agreed this is usually enough to get the machinery on its way. Most UK finance companies will release payment tothe supplier on evidence that the machinery is on UK soil .

To protect the customer a small retention of 10-20% of the net cost of the godds can be withheld until satisfactory installation. If the supplier is unwilling to release the machinery or equipment prior to shipment before receiving payment in full it was once possible for a funder to provide a  pre facility loan or overdraft.

For obvious reasons the customer would need to be pretty strong in terms of their financial standing. These facilities were more often than not offered  by bank owned finance companies however in the current era of restricted credit most of these facilities have been withdrawn. However not to say a bank might not provide an overdraft facility for some of their better customers.

If none of these are an option  it may be possible to arrange a letter of credit.  This is basically  a bank backed guarantee stipulating that providing certain conditions are fulfilled payment to the supplier is guaranteed. XL Business Finance has experience and expertise at negotiating with foreign supppliers and ensuring the correct wording and documentation is provided to enable the quick release of funds and at the same time providing protection for the customer and comfort the supplier.

Bank Borrowing Too Expensive?

Monday, July 27th, 2009

So the Chancellor of the Exchequer has finally realised that the banks are charging more than they were 18 months ago. We have known for sometime it has become increasingly more difficult to obtain hire purchase and finance lease facilities as the banks and high street finance companies continue to restrict credit.

In my opinion they are caught between a rock and a hard stone. The economy is in a mess due to their irresponsible approach to lending in the boom times. Now that we are in a recession and they have been bailed out they are supposed to be helping the small businesses but they have used the money from the government to improve their balance sheet.

For every loan or overdraft they advance they are supposed to have a percentage of the advance in cash reserves. How much they put into reserves depends on the finance product in question. For example if an overdraft facility is granted a much higher percentage of the advance must be kept in reserve than a factoring or invoice discounting facility for example. That is why your bank manager will always try and push a business into a factoring or invoice discounting rather than an overdraft facility.

In addition to providing better security factoring or invoice discounting is less onerous on the banks reserve requirements and improves their overall balance sheet. The high street banks will tell you they are open for business but privately they are cherry picking their deals. Although the banks are charging a higher margin the overall costs in the majority of cases has significantly been reduced virtue of the fact the bank base rate is so low.

It must also be remembered that finance is a risk reward businesses and funders have the right to charge their customers appropriately. Although the banks have finally woken up to this fact if you are a business and you have been offered a facility from a high street bank it will probably be by far the cheapest finance on offer.

Hire Purchase or Finance Lease?

Tuesday, July 21st, 2009

We often get asked which is the best way to finance capital equipment. In short the answer can be subjective and we will always refer you to your own accountant. However we can provide you with the differences which will probably point you in the right direction.

A hire purchase and finance lease facility are both ways of funding capital expenditure requirement however they are structured in slightly different ways and have slightly different tax treatment.

With a hire purchase facility all the VAT must be paid up front with a deposit of usually 10% of the net amount. At the end of the agreement and with payment of the final payment an option to purchase fee is paid and legal title passes to the customer. The equipment is shown as an asset in the companys balance sheet from the onset of the hire purchase agreement with a corresponding liability for the finance agreement. Capital allowances are claimed on a reducing balance basis.

With a finance lease the equipment is still shown as an asset and liability in the balance sheet however there are several fundamental differences. Firstly the VAT is spread over the term of the agreement and paid with the monthly rentals. Therefore from a cash flow point of view finance lease can work better for some customers. Instead of claiming capital allowances the monthly rental is offset against the profit and loss account therefore the full benefit from a tax point of view is claimed over the exact period of the lease. This can be advantageous if the equipment being funded is high tech and will need to be replaced at he end of the agreement. However at the end of the agreement the finance lease will go into secondary rentals which are equivalent to one months rental being paid on an annual basis. Alternatively the kit can be sold and the customer retains typically 95% of the sale proceeds. The remaining 5% is paid to the finance company along with the VAT

Declined Finance?

Friday, July 17th, 2009

In my opinion leasing comapanies are continuuing to tighten their underwriting criteria. Every week we receive an email from a finance company saying they have pulled out of financing this sort of equipment or don’t want to finance businesses in that industry sector. Providing you have been trading for more than 3 years, you have a very strong balance sheet, you are very profitable and your accounting information is bang up to date you should have no problem obtaing a hire purchase facility or a finance lease facility, however it is no guarantee. Leasing companies are  paying particular attention to sercieability so it is now necessary to provide 3 months recent bank statements as part of the underwriting process. If you are one of the lucky ones you will get a nice interest rate and nice terms. This is good old balance sheet lending. Happy days!

Unfortunately there seems to be more bussinesses struggling to obtain finance than businesses getting clean acceptances. Until recently here were a handfull of funders that positioned themslves just below the high street funders taking a commercial view on the deals that did not appeal to these high street lenders.

The bad news is that the near prime funders have nearly all disappeared due to their inability to obtain funding themselves on the wholesale market. The asset based lenders will do deals however they nearlly all want to be asset secure. Therefore if you are buying a piece of kit costing £250k and they perceive the forced sale value at £125k they will require an additional £125k worth of  security. This can be in the form of unencumbered kit or can be equity in commercial or residential property. It may even be possible to refinance equipment and machinery coming to the end of a lease or hire purchase agrement.

If no addional security is available many businesses are finding themselves caught between a rock and a hard stone.

 
 
 

XL Business Finance Ltd is a privately owned and independent business financing company with established links to many of the UK's leading finance houses. XL Business Finance provides a viable alternative to high street banks that lack the flexibility and imagination to provide a solution to most business users requirements. XL Business Finance can provide a full range of business financing solutions and we ensure a high level of customer service and pride ourselves on quick decisions. Our independent status will ensure any offer of funding and asset finance leasing is best suited to our customer’s needs.

XL Business Finance, Eaton Place Business Centre, 114 Washway Road, Sale, Cheshire M33 7RF UK.

 

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