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Puerto Rico starts ’13 with slight increase in bankruptcies

U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Old San Juan  (Credit: © Mauricio Pascual)

U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Old San Juan (Credit: © Mauricio Pascual)

Puerto Rico bankruptcies were up 1 percent in January, when 739 cases were filed at the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, research firm Boletín de Puerto Rico disclosed Tuesday.

More than half of the cases filed last month, or 447, sought Chapter 13 personal bankruptcy protection, up 7 percent when compared to the filings on record for January 2012.

Meanwhile, 265 companies and individuals sought full liquidation proceedings via the Chapter 7 filing option, up 14 percent from the same month last year.

The report also showed that while there were only 25 Chapter 11 filings on record, the figure represented a whopping 79 percent year-over-year increase in cases that allow petitioners to keep their businesses running while reorganizing their finances.

Finally, there were 2 Chapter 12 filings, representing farmers who turned to the court to address their financial problems. That number was down 71 percent when compared to January 2012.

The highest number of commercial filings came from cafeterias (5), dairy farms (3), restaurants (3), construction companies (8), and senior centers (3), Boletín de Puerto Rico noted.

“As of January 2013 there were approximately 70 commercial filings, a 17 percent increase from 2012, when 60 cases were submitted,” Boletín de Puerto Rico said.

In terms of the debt associated with the total number of filings so far this year, the breakdown is as follows: total debt, $139 million, up 14 percent year-over-year; $71.5 million in secured debt, up 3 percent; $65.1 million in unsecured debt, up 33 percent; prioritized debt, $2.2 million, down 28 percent; and, unspecified debt, $14.2 million.

The report also showed that individual debt totaled nearly $67 million, up 8 percent year-over-year. Meanwhile, Puerto Rico businesses in trouble reported $72 million in total debt, up 21 percent when compared to January 2012.

The most notable bankruptcy filings during the month were Hill Construction, with $13.5 million in debt, Empresas Benítez Toledo Inc, with $12.8 million, and Vaquería Tano Martínez, with more than $4 million in debt. Most filings came from Camuy, Cidra, Humacao and Trujillo Alto, the report showed.

Author Details
Author Details
Business reporter with 29 years of experience writing for weekly and daily newspapers, as well as trade publications in Puerto Rico. My list of former employers includes Caribbean Business, The San Juan Star, and the Puerto Rico Daily Sun, among others. My areas of expertise include telecommunications, technology, retail, agriculture, tourism, banking and most other segments of Puerto Rico’s economy.

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