Figures from the corporate regulator show insolvencies hit a record high last year, as companies succumbed to an extended period of weak economic growth.

An analysis of the Australian Securities and Investments Commission's monthly figures by insolvency firm Taylor Woodings reveals 730 firms appointed, or were forced to appoint, external administrators in December.

That brings the total number of insolvencies for 2012 to 10,632, up 1.4 per cent on 2011 and 12.7 per cent higher than during the peak of the financial crisis in 2009.

Taylor Woodings says it was the highest number of insolvencies in data that go back to 1999.

The number of insolvencies in December down on the monthly average of 886 over the whole of 2012, however that appears likely to be due to seasonal factors, with corporate collapses in the month up on the number in December 2011.

The biggest rises in insolvencies in December 2012 compared to the same month a year earlier were in the Northern Territory (up 50 per cent) and Tasmania (up 40 per cent), but both states were coming off low bases and have a large degree of volatility in the figures due to their small size.

Victoria had the biggest increase of the more populous states, with insolvencies up 9.4 per cent.

The construction sector had the highest number of insolvencies and accounted for 22.1 per cent of all firms that went into administration or receivership.


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