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Arkopharma – Laboratoires Pharmaceutiques Sophie Rack interviews Katarina Azib, Group Treasurer at Arkopharma – Laboratoires Pharmaceutiques

Katarina Azib

Group Treasurer, Arkopharma – Laboratoires Pharmaceutiques

“Few foreign exchange problems: 90% of revenues are in euros”

La Lettre du Trésorier

You are 32 years old, can you tell me about your career path?

Katarina Azib: After I finished my studies in Slovakia specialising in banking, finance and investment, I spent three years in London studying languages and IT.

I moved to France in 2000 and continued my studies at evening classes at the CNAM where I first got a postgraduate qualification in managerial studies, specialising in financial management, then more recently a Masters in management science, market finance, specialising in international asset management.

In the meantime, I had started work as soon as I moved to France - first in financial consultancy for insurance, contingency and savings, then for the Caisse de Retraite et de Prevoyance Réunica/Bayard, one of the biggest institutional investors, in treasury, where I was responsible for treasury management and researching monetary placements.

You joined Arkopharma’s office in the South of France a year ago, I believe?

KA: Yes, after my husband changed his job, we moved to the South of France. I am now responsible for the group treasury function at Arkopharma Laboratoires Pharmaceutiques and I report directly to the Finance Director.

What are Arkopharma’s activities?

KA: Arkopharma was established in 1980. It is a French family-owned company which offers natural medicines made from active plant extracts, and specialises in herbal medicines, dermocosmetics, health foods, vitamins and minerals. We have been the leader in the herbal medicines sector for more than 27 years with 83% of the market share. Over 66% of our products are sold in pharmacies or chemists and the rest by mass retailers, specialist stores or by mail order. Arkopharma has 1,639 registered products, including 211 marketing authorisations for medicines in France as well as food supplements.

We have been the leader in the herbal medicines sector for more than 27 years with 83% of the market share.

In 2006, we had revenues of €231 million, 63% of which were accounted for by herbal medicines, and a net profit of €6.2 million. The company, which has 1,621 employees in 65 countries, 1,000 of whom work in Carros near Nice, invests 5% of its revenues in research and development. The group has five French subsidiaries and 13 international subsidiaries in strategic countries such as Spain, Italy, the UK, Ireland and the Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland, Greece, Poland, the USA, Canada and Australia. Forty-seven per cent of our revenues come from international markets with the highest sales in Spain, Ireland and Italy.

Arkopharma was floated on the stock market in 1996 but very recently cancelled its listing, in July 2007, the shares having been repurchased by the holding company belonging to the owner family, which now owns over 95%.

How are your activities organised?

KA: I manage the treasury operations of the French subsidiaries directly. In order to reduce the surplus cash positions as much as possible and to centralise the worldwide cash flow of our international subsidiaries, we decided to introduce Connexis Cash through BNP Paribas. This is an internet-based e-banking tool, which is highly adaptable and will allow us to recover the daily positions in all countries, to initiate group bank account transfers online and also has an option for the subsidiaries to carry out payments to third parties themselves. Following detailed negotiations with the subsidiaries and their banks, we have now reached the final implementation phase of the system.

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