NEW YORK, March 10 (Reuters) - Bankruptcies by publicly traded U.S. companies are running at twice their 2008 pace so far this year, fueled by large companies with assets of more than $1 billion, according to data released Monday by research firm BankruptcyData.com.
Through Tuesday, there have been 46 Chapter 11 or Chapter 7 bankruptcy filings in 2009 by public companies with total combined assets of $74 billion, a total nearly seven times greater than the $11 billion in assets of the 21 companies that had filed by this date last year.
Thirteen of the 2009 bankruptcies were by companies with assets of more than $1 billion before their filings, including petrochemicals maker Lyondell Chemical Co [ACCELC.UL], telecommunications company Nortel Networks NT.TO, and Smurfit-Stone Container Corp SSCCQ.PK.
In 2007, the total assets of companies filing for bankruptcy were $782 million by this time of year, according to BankruptcyData.com.
Despite the spike, the rate of bankruptcies is still below that of 2002, a record-breaking year that had seen 60 public company bankruptcies by early March. (Reporting by Phil Wahba, editing by Matthew Lewis)