Centralisation and Innovation at Hoyer Group
Björn Gerhard, Corporate Center Finance, Hoyer Group
Hoyer Group’s corporate headquarters provides several central business support functions, such as Human Resources, IT, Finance, Treasury, Audit etc. Historically, Treasury has been very decentralised, with strong local management in each country who performed the necessary banking and cash management activities. However, in 2001-2, we appointed an external consultant who recommended that we centralise our treasury and cash management activities, with a view to achieving greater efficiency, visibility and economies of scale.
As part of our centralisation project, we sought to simplify our bank relationships to improve our ability to negotiate and achieve greater control over our cash. Our ambition had been to appoint a single, global banking partner, but we found that none was in a position to support our needs in all of our 87 countries. Consequently, we decided to work with banks according to their specialisms, which we validated through a rigorous request for proposal process. As a result of this process, we have reduced our financing partners considerably, from 40 local banks to 15 global banking partners that are appointed centrally. We have one cash management bank for each regional ‘cluster’ that we have established, including the Nordics and the UK, where we work with SEB, Western Europe (BNP Paribas Fortis), Eastern Europe (Unicredit), Outside Europe (RBS) and Germany (Deutsche Bank and Unicredit). In addition, we have retained additional specialist banks to perform specific tasks. In the Nordics and UK, we had used another bank before embarking on this process, but we were attracted to SEB’s reputation, financial stability, customer service and competitive pricing.
We were attracted to SEB's reputation, financial stability, customer service and competitive pricing.
Leveraging bank relationships
By managing bank relationships centrally, we have been able to establish consistent commercial conditions, such as the same margin on current accounts. While this is more difficult in some regions than others, such as in central and eastern Europe where the markets are more volatile, we have been able to standardise successfully in other regions. The ‘cluster’ arrangement also enables us to achieve central visibility across the business, with cash pools in each country or region as appropriate. In the UK, we sweep funds from both SEB and RBS into a header account with SEB. In Germany, we have a zero balancing cash pool with all accounts sweeping into the GMBH account, supported by an in-house bank in place for funding business units, although in reality, our financial flows are generally stable.