TUESDAY, NOV. 13: Signs point to the markets recovering from the low of 2009.

Appleby, a legal, fiduciary and administration services company,  said the number of worldwide offshore companies being registered in the first half of 2012 was up nine per cent from the previous six months.

The findings are part of the firm’s inaugural On the Register report, which provides insight and data on company incorporations in offshore financial centres. The report concludes that jurisdictions such as the British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands and Mauritius likely will continue to remain attractive destinations for registering offshore businesses.

Globally, offshore new company registrations are slowly returning to the levels that were seen before the global recession. However, the report, which looks primarily at data for the first six months of 2012, sounds a cautionary note that there is still some volatility in the marketplace.

For example, the number of new offshore company incorporations in the first half of 2012 represented a decrease of 4 per cent on the same period a year earlier.

The report takes a look at incorporations in the British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Bermuda, the Crown Dependencies, Mauritius and Seychelles, and also provides insights into how activity in these jurisdictions compares to financial centres such as the UK and Hong Kong.

Rory Gorman, managing director of Appleby Services (Bermuda) Ltd., said in a press release: “Offshore jurisdictions remain pretty optimistic that they have a strong value proposition and remain attractive destinations for registering businesses.

“A number of the offshore jurisdictions are showing a clear positive direction, with year-on-year increases in registration activity since 2009.”

While the number of new company registrations grew in the first half of 2012, with 41,556 new offshore incorporations, the report notes that the total number of active companies is actually down four per cent from 833,086 in December 2011 to 801,168 through June 2012.

The jurisdiction that is dominating offshore new company registration activity by volume is the British Virgin Islands, which has consistently maintained a six-fold lead ahead of its nearest comparator, the Cayman Islands.

The Cayman Islands is the fastest growth jurisdiction for new registrations, with a 13 per cent increase since the previous six months.

The report said Bermuda remains an attractive place to incorporate with the number of new company incorporations maintaining a reassuringly steady flow over the last three years. The UK and Hong Kong as onshore comparators, are showing signs of continued recovery with both annual registrations and total active companies showing year on year improvement. 

And the projected figures for the UK are looking to be 200,000 more active companies at the end of the year compared to 12 months previously.