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Interview Alexis Wattinne Alexis Wattinne discusses the treasury structure at Bonduelle, paying particular attention to the centralisation of liquidity, handling debt, and currency management.

Alexis Wattinne

Finance and Treasury Manager, Bonduelle

“The strength of our organisation rests upon a big centralisation”

Can you tell us about Bonduelle?

We have 8,500 employees, a turnover of EUR 1.5bn, a third of which was achieved in France, another in Europe, the last in Russia, the old Soviet republics and North America – also in Brazil, where we have just got a foothold – Bonduelle is the world’s number one in processed vegetables, in all their forms, that’s to say fresh, catering, frozen or canned. Around 60% of products are sold under our own label, Bonduelle or Cassegrain for example, and 40% under the distributors’ brands. A family business, founded in 1853, Bonduelle, which is a publicly traded company is characterised both by its international aspect – subsidiaries in 18 countries, the brand distributed in 24 countries, and 43  production sites – and by the strength of its development, partly achieved by acquisition. The most recent purchase, of France Champignon,  will add an additional EUR 200 m to our turnover.

That all points to a very decentralised group operationally. Is it the same with  treasury?

No, quite the opposite. The strength of our organisation rests upon a big centralisation, facilitated by the fact that all the entities share a unique ERP. Cash-flow, risks, liquidity and bank relations are handled by the parent company; the subsidiaries, who don’t have treasuries, take out loans almost exclusively from us.

What is the workforce for these different tasks?

I am assisted by five people, one of whom is in apprenticeship, who are divided among two areas: the first is in charge of cash flow and of the back office, be it cash-pools, netting, payment management and the treasury information systems; the job of the other group, put simply, is to manage risk activities and the front office. We also have the constant support of a service provider, Forex Finance, who carry out the monitoring of positions and establish corresponding connections. They have also been a great help in the total reorganisation of our currency cash flow.

How is the centralisation of liquidity achieved?

It is helped by banking cash pools – one for northern Europe, one for France and two for Southern Europe, and manual cash pools in central Europe, and it all finally comes together in the central treasury. For these procedures, we call on a limited selection of French banks who have been with us for a long time, according to a simple principle: we trust them with our cash flow proportional to our financial quota. These cash pools are underpinned by netting, whose efficiency is proven considering the importance of inter-group transactions.

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