Fast-growing companies continue to shun bank loans, according to a study to be released this week by PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Only 26% of the companies surveyed by the firm had applied for bank loans during the first quarter, compared with 38% a year earlier. However, the rate had risen by 2 percentage points from the fourth quarter.

The study, the "Trendsetter Barometer," queries 446 companies identified by the media as fast-growing.

"When considering business stumbling blocks for the next 12 months, only 21% of CEOs say access to capital is one of them," said Paul Weaver, an analyst at PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Demand for bank loans by fast-growing companies reached an all-time low in the fourth quarter. Analysts attributed the ebb to higher interest rates and growing recourse to self-financing.

The survey found that the number of companies seeking alternative financing is also down. Only 12% of CEOs said they were seeking private placement, 11% angel investors, and 9% venture capital.

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