Director of Treasury, Financing and Insurance at Lagardère Active
“A saving of 40% on banking cash flow”
Where is Lagardère Active within the giant that is Lagardère?
Lagardère Active, the result of a fusion of the press and audio-visual activity in 2006, is the media branch of Lagardère, and encompasses three other divisions. Hachette Livre, the brand used by Lagardère Publishing, is the second largest publisher in the world, the biggest in Europe and number one in France, with around 75 media titles, in Great Britain, Australia and New Zealand, second in Spain and fifth in the United States; the retail division, grouped at the heart of Lagardère Services, runs the premier international network of shops selling cultural activity products, and of duty-free stores such as Relay, Virgin, Aelia; Lagardère Services is also the world leader in press distribution; then there’s sport and entertainment with Lagardère Unlimited, which mostly deals with management of distribution rights, the marketing of rights and of sports marketing products.
Lagardère Active, whose turnover has risen to €1.1 bn, includes a division for magazine publishing called France, a leader in advertising and circulation, which publishes about 40 titles including Elle, Paris Match, Télé 7 Jours, Be, Le journal du dimanche, and which has just over 2.6 million subscribers; a radio centre in France – general stations like Europe 1, music stations like Virgin Radio, RFM ; fiction publishers , the frontrunner in France’s fiction market with Julie Lescaux, Joséphine ange gardien, Les Borgias and number two in the production of broadcast feeds, C dans l’air for example; a television division, with channels including Gulli, Canal J, MCM, June, Mezzo. Theer is also a digital division whose assets include Doctissimo, the most popular site among French women, Boursier.com [Stock Exchange] and Sport.fr, as well as advertising. Lagardère Active sold its portfolio of overseas-edited magazines to Hearst Corporation in 2011: this sale, along with the winding up of Russian radio stations in December, represented almost a billion euros, which allowed us to reduce debt to a very low level.
How is your department structured?
Each branch of Lagardère has extensive autonomy in its treasury management; for example, they don’t all use exactly the same financial tools. Nevertheless, the central treasury for the group has complete control when it comes to mid- and long-term financing. However, at the treasury of Lagardère Active, which consists of about a hundred companies, has a total of 350 bank accounts and is under Rémy Pierre, financial director and member of the executive committee, the principle of centralisation is followed throughout. The department consists of seven people, including myself, three of whom work in cash management, one in the back office and management of banking relationships, one who works specifically in IT, and one in charge of cash management software.
What is your cash management system?
The aim is to concentrate liquidity at one point while still staying in control at all times: it involves a cash pooling where automatic balancing is achieved with the help of integrated software called Cash Value, by Datalog Finances, which we have been using since November 2011. The fact that we use the Cash Pooler payment software package allows automatic integration of accounting data into Cash Value. We work with six cash management banks, five of which are French, which are all present in the banking pool of the holding company.
Which new banking protocol did you choose?
We were inclined to choose SwiftNet, but the termination of a large part of our international activity simplified the deal: we eventually chose Ebics TS, which we have now installed.