According to legal services consultancy the Applebly Group, the majority of offshore jurisdictions showed a decrease in offshore company incorporation activity in the 2nd half of 2012 as compared with the 1st half.
However, company registrations in some jurisdictions seem optimistic. The report, which looks primarily at the data for the last 6 months of 2012, revealed that despite tough economic conditions, levels of new company registration activity in one major offshore jurisdiction continued to increase – Bermuda reported a 7% increase in activity as compared with the 1st half of 2012.
Nevertheless, the on-going weakened economic conditions continued to influence the overall market in the 2nd half of 2012. There were 37,881 new offshore company formations in the jurisdictions covered by the report, a decline of 3.6% from the 2nd half of 2011, and a deeper decrease of 11% on the preceding 6 months in 2012.
Taking into consideration the entire year, the overall number of new company registrations for the majority of jurisdictions stayed flat in 2012. This proved to be a year of consolidation following large increases in annual new incorporations between 2009 and 2011.
As to the total number of active companies, most jurisdictions showed little movement from the previous year as new company formations cancelled out the numbers leaving the registries. Hong Kong saw a 9% increase in the total number of active registered companies, with the local register there breaking through the one million mark for the 1st time. The Mauritius and Cayman registries are steadily returning to their pre-recession peaks, experiencing a 3% and 1% rise respectively.
After a busy 1st half of the year, jurisdictions including the Cayman Islands, the Isle of Man, Mauritius and the British Virgin Islands were approximately 10% down in the latter half.
Also, according to the report, the British Virgin Islands is the jurisdiction that continues to dominate offshore new company registration activity by volume. It has consistently maintained a 6-fold lead ahead of its nearest comparator, the Cayman Islands.
The United Kingdom and Hong Kong continue to show signs of recovery. Hong Kong in particular showed significant growth between H1 and H2 2012 with a 7% increase in registrations. Both Hong Kong and the UK registrations are above those recorded in 2009.