Name: Dina Mohanna Rbea’an Subject: Cash Pooling Supervisor: Dr. Nasser Abu Mustafa University: NYIT? Cash Management: Cash pooling Abstract The role of the corporate cash manager has been continuously revised over the past few years, as a result of the demand for more effective and efficient ways to support the core needs of the organization. This has resulted in new responsibilities for the corporate treasurer and cash manager.
The cash management function is demanding more accurate and continuous information on its cash position to provide responsive forecasting data and handling, so that availability of liquidity at the right time and price can be ensured. So this paper studies the Cash Management concept and focus on the cash pooling and whether it’s applied in the Middle East. Introduction The objectives of cash management are straightforward – maximise liquidity and control cash flows and maximise the value of funds while minimising the cost of funds. The strategies for meeting such objectives include varying degrees of long-term planning requirements.
Also, like everywhere in the world, much treasury activity in the organizations is concentrated on cash management. This includes financing the corporation, administration of debts (loans, bonds, commercial papers, etc. ), good relationships with the banks, payments to suppliers and collections from customers, control of foreign currency and interest positions according to the company’s needs for finance, and finally the reporting and technical support of all these functions. The use of cash pooling as a global standard for concentrating cash into the main bank account of the firm has very quickly found favour in corporations.
Cash pooling enables corporate groups to minimize expenditure incurred in connection with banking facilities through economies of scale. Under a cash pooling arrangement, entities within a corporate group regularly transfer their surplus cash to a single bank account (the “master account“) and, in return, may draw on the funds in that account to satisfy their own cash flow requirements from time to time. The master account is usually held by the parent company or by a “Treasury Company “established specifically for this purpose.
Depending on the type of cash pooling arrangement, the participating entities may transfer either their entire cash surplus (“zero balancing“), or cash exceeding a certain surplus level (“target balancing“). In general, all entities participating in the cash pooling arrangement will be liable for any negative balance on the master account, irrespective of the amount they have contributed. Transfers and draw-downs of funds to and from the master account by the participating companies have the nature of the grant and repayment of intra-group loans.
In addition to physical cash pooling there is also “notional“(also known as “virtual“) cash pooling. This does not involve the physical transfer of funds, but rather the set-off of balances of different companies within the group, so that the bank charges interest on the group‘s net cash balance. This optimizes the position of the group as regards interest payments, but does not achieve optimal allocation of liquid funds as between the group members. Notional cash pooling will not result in the creation of intra-group loans, since funds are not physically transferred.
As such, many of the risks outlined in this brochure do not apply to a purely notional cash pooling arrangement. In practice however, a notional cash pooling arrangement will frequently involve the grant of cross-guarantees and security by the participants to the bank, in order to maximize the available overdraft facility. To this extent, many of the risks outlined in this article could be relevant, even if the cash pooling arrangement is predominantly notional in nature. The specific structure of individual cash pooling arrangements can vary.
For example, transfers to the master account may be undertaken by each participating group member individually or may instead be undertaken automatically by the bank on the basis of a power of attorney given by the relevant group company. In addition to the facility agreement with the respective bank, each participating group company will usually enter into “cash pooling agreement“. These agreements must be carefully structured in order to minimize the risks of civil or criminal liability of the participating group companies and their officers. Tax issues must also be carefully considered when structuring cash pooling agreements.
Types of cash pooling Banks generally offer the following types of cash pooling: ?zero-balancing cash pooling, ?notional cash pooling, ?multicurrency cash pooling, ?Cross-border cash pooling. ?Zero -balancing cash pooling : Real cash pooling is based on a transfer from bank accounts to a master account, with balances on all bank accounts except the master account being zero at the end of the working day. It means this money physically ‘moves’ from the junior accounts to the master account. Real cash pooling requires companies to keep careful records of cash transfers, interest received and paid, and records of investments.
Structure of a “Zero-Balancing-Pool” ?National pooling: Requires a company’s subsidiaries to use branches of the same bank, usually in the same country; although with the adoption of the euro, single-currency cross-border pooling has become rather common in Europe. All the excess and deficit balances in the company’s subsidiary accounts are summed each day to calculate the net interest earned or due. Funds are not actually transferred; rather, they are simply totalled for the purpose of calculating interest. Banks usually require credit facilities to support any deficit balances in the pool.
National pooling generally requires extensive cross-guarantees among subsidiaries which many companies find very difficult to implement. Some countries disallow national pooling . among them are the United States, Germany, Mexico, Japan and Brazil. In countries where national pooling is not allowed, the zero balance pooling method must be used. Structure of “ National pooling” ?Multicurrency cash pooling: Bank account balances in different foreign currencies are swapped to one agreed currency, which is the base for the interest rate calculations. ?Cross-border cash pooling
Cross-border cash pooling helps corporations avoid the bureaucracy intrinsic to transferring cash across countries and different clearing systems, as well as different legal entities and the headache associated with the additional inter-company loan administration. While there is a selection of solutions in the marketplace, most of these operate on an interest enhancement basis where corporations are rewarded for servicing their liquidity through their chosen bank, but the bank is unable to achieve a balance sheet offset due to the complexity of multiple jurisdictional and regulatory barriers.
Czech banks now offer cross-border pooling, both notional and real, for accounts in the domestic Czech koruna, euro, US dollar, Central European currencies (such as in the Slovak koruna, Hungarian forint and Polish zloty) and pound. These principles are used both in the Czech Republic and in the rest of Europe, and are therefore similar; any differences are the result of the legal requirements of each country. As mentioned above, the Czech Commercial Code does not recognise anything like ‘concern’ or a product like cash pooling.
It is necessary to fulfil several conditions to prevent problems concerning taxation and reporting to minority shareholders. It is practically impossible to implement a cash pooling agreement between companies without a majority share. It is normal practice that a cash pooling system has to be agreed by a general meeting of the company and there is a strict requirement for signed control agreements. Sometimes, it is necessary to change the company articles of incorporation. •Reasons of Cash pooling : Reduction of financing costs on group level, -Improvement of investment-deposits by using economies of scale, -Simplification of liquidity-management on domestic level, -Reduction of expenses for financial intermediaries through centralization, -Improvement of planning cash flows through coordination of financial cycles, -Optimization of your financial image by decreasing external financing and better use of internal financial potentials, -Break-Even at about EUR 200’000 permanent liabilities on the accounts. Cash management in the Middle East: As in the rest of the world, cash management in the Middle East is benefiting from automation. How is this affecting different sizes of corporate, and what does the future hold in this area? The Middle East region, which includes countries like UAE, Oman and Qatar, has kept pace with the growth in such business ambitions and cash management is also not to be left out of this race to riches, as businesses continually explore opportunities to make more money, more profits and reduce costs.
The excellent growth climate in countries like UAE, fuelled by ambitions and visions of the rulers and the business community, has resulted in opportunities, growth of infrastructure, access to international and other funds through opening up and freehold real estates, trading environments, the presence of more ‘free zones’, creating a healthy and open competition for the survival and growth of the fittest, etc Multi-national corporate Middle East, especially the UAE, has recently seen an influx of many multi-national companies (MNCs) setting up their regional offices, treasury offices, marketing offices, etc. n UAE and managing the global operations. To attract such MNCs into the region, financial and general free zones plus offshore financial centers have sprung up everywhere with the intentions of inviting the best of MNCs to come and have their shops opened in these countries. The absence of tax regimes has added to the attraction in these markets. These companies typically need 24 hour Internet access, sweeping and pooling of funds and balances across banks and branches, competitive FX and deposit rates, competitive temporary overnight overdraft interest rates and credit interest on overnight floats.
The ideal location of Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries in the global map, the growth of communication, infrastructure, Internet, etc. have led to the explosive growth of such companies in the region Local corporate GCC is predominantly dominated by a number of local corporate or companies or family owned businesses, which are typically owned by large local/national families of businessmen. Most of these families have very successful and historic track records and have been associates/local representatives/agents for most of multinational brands from all over the world.
The local regulations for a sponsor from a national has been a great aid in ensuring that the multinationals tie up with these local corporate for mutual success of business lines. While the MNC does the production, transport, marketing support, service association, etc. , the Local Corporate typically takes the local marketing and sales realization risk, like any MNC agency. This combination of MNCs and local corporate has worked very well historically in the GCC with the result that there is a successful association of MNC brands and families in the GCC.
In many of these countries, the lack of restrictions such as taxes, financial regulations to publish books of accounts and audit, etc. have made the operations of such corporate mostly family driven. Recently, and especially in the last four to five years, GCC business families have started expanding into other countries in the region and also into countries in East and North Africa and other parts of the world, where investments in assets and business yields good and long-term returns for the business houses.
In other words, the local corporate have been the opposite of the MNCs coming and operating into the GCC, and typically such local corporate are slowly growing and reaching the sizes of MNCs, albeit the growth into other competitive countries like Singapore, UK, other parts of Europe and the US have been very limited or generally non-existent. Mid-sized trading companies GCC has been historically characterized by a host of mid-sized trading companies, thanks to the general economic growth, healthy competition, absence of taxes and rules regime and a general absence of governmental red tape.
Today, people of most GCC nationalities could come and start a business in any of the Free Zones in their own name, or if they choose to partner a national, they can start the business anywhere in these countries, with very limited capital and resources. The laws and business conditions have been very conducive for the mushrooming growth of such mid-sized companies, which have thrived, in the general economic upswing in the Middle East.
While it is extremely difficult to list out the number of these companies, it is generally felt among banking community that the number of mid-sized corporate or companies (along with the small and medium enterprises (SMEs)) might currently be in the region of 15,000 numbers in UAE alone. This brings an exciting opportunity for smart entrepreneurs who thrive on such opportunities as also for smart bankers who have built a portfolio of such assets and relationships.
On the cash management front, such small companies do not have many demands except that they require immediate and urgent funds clearance, remittances for payments, overnight float interest, good interest rates for deposits, etc. Many of them are also computer or Internet savvy and would be happy to use such online services to transact with their banks. Small and medium-sized enterprises SMEs have been the sleeping giants in the GCC business world, but they have now woken up to be a mid-sized monster.
While banks are repeatedly facing the ever-decreasing margins (be it in interest rates, commissions, charges or any form of income to the bank) in the MNC and large corporate segments, it is the SME that has come as the boon for the dwindling revenues of banks. SMEs have been the ideal examples for the usual risk philosophy of ‘higher the risk, higher the return’. SME segment today offers the highest interest rates and margins in terms of lending – sometimes as high as 600 to 800 basis points over LIBOR/DIBOR, not to mention the amount of charges and commission.
The risks of such SMEs have been mastered by many banks to offer an excellent basket of spread-out lending while keeping an eye on high margins. These SMEs will be the lifeline of banks in the next six to 10 years, and I personally believe that among the corporate income of banks, SMEs will represent the largest amount of this income. They could represent 70-80% in four to five years from now. This is an educated guess on what may happen, based on what is happening today. •Economic overview: There has always been a strong correlation between crude oil prices and the state of the Middle Eastern economies.
With oil receipts accounting for 90% of government revenues in several Gulf countries and public projects dominating the markets, economic growth is largely dependent on the local government’s expansionary policies. In view of the oil industry’s cyclical nature, governments have become cautious in planning their annual budgets. An IMF study revealed that the Middle East countries, which were the beneficiaries of windfall oil export revenues in 2000-01, are using these gains prudently so as to be well equipped to deal with any sudden fall in oil prices over next few years.
In addition, the governments have recognised the importance of economic diversification, and are now encouraging economic activity in sectors other than oil. Much of this effort has gone into developing manufacturing, trading, and tourism. Figure 1: Regional Macroeconomic Data and Forecasts •Financial Environment: The Gulf countries offer some of the most liberal financial environments, with fully convertible currencies, stable exchange rates, minimal exchange controls, and nil-to-low tax regimes.
The relative political stability and increased economic cooperation between regional countries are some of the positive developments that attract big players to look at the Middle East as a viable investment alternative. Many of the Middle East countries that carefully protected themselves against the threat of foreign investors for so long are now inviting foreign capital to diversify their economies. Even the highly conservative states, such as Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, are gradually extending investment and ownership rights to foreign nationals.
Free-trade zones, which were pioneered by the UAE and are now a common feature of all Gulf countries, have been instrumental in providing sole ownership and control to foreign investors. Apart from simplified registration and licensing procedures, free-trade zones offer tax holidays and world-class infrastructure facilities; thus, they are attracting new investors. •Banking System: The banking activities in the Middle East are largely domestic. The financial sector is engaged in a whole range of activities, from traditional public sector-dominated banking to state-of-the-art project finance and investment banking.
Some banks are starting to obtain ratings from international agencies to pave the way for a more regional role. The governments have also been attempting to strengthen the banking sector by recapitalizing the domestic banks and ensuring that international capital requirements are met. There is a move towards encouraging smaller banks to merge and to develop domestic capital markets. Overall, there are many ongoing reforms designed to develop a sound banking system. The banking system in the Middle East is relatively flexible, and allows the opening and operation of a wide variety of accounts.
However, Oman, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia do place some restrictions. Details of possible account structures are given in Figure 2 below. •Clearing System: All the countries in the Middle East, except for Saudi Arabia and the UAE, have a manual clearing system. Saudi Arabia has a real-time settlement system called the Saudi Riyal Interbank Express (SARIE). The SARIE is capable of interfacing with the electronic banking platforms of clearing participants for the online settlement of transactions. In the UAE, the Central Bank has recently introduced a real-time gross settlement (RTGS) system to facilitate interbank payments.
Some other regional countries are also considering introducing such systems. The settlement days for manual clearing depend on the local practices and the level of sophistication in each country. The average time to clear a local currency cheque ranges from one to three working days in major cities. Outstation cheques take anywhere from between five and 10 working days for realization. Foreign currency cheques take between five and 15 working days to clear. The lack of automated clearing and settlement systems has hampered the automation of payment services, such as high-volume and low-value payments.
Banks have worked around this by accepting payment instructions electronically, and then effecting payment through cheque printing or bank-to-bank transfers. •Liquidity Management Products: The availability of several account types is further augmented by a liberal regulatory framework that supports the setting up of domestic and cross-border concentration and pooling structures. In Saudi Arabia, there are no explicit laws on various aspects of liquidity management set-ups. Egypt allows pooling and cash concentration between resident and non-resident accounts, and also between two different legal entities.
Bahrain and the UAE also permit pooling and cash concentration among different legal entities. However, it is advisable to seek legal opinion before establishing a liquidity management structure. •Cash Management Overview: As the regional markets grow in sophistication, there is a corresponding need for corporate to improve their operational efficiency and cost competitiveness. Over the last year, several banks have introduced electronic banking services – both Internet and non-Internet based – to provide services ranging from simple account information to transaction automation.
Despite the presence of the underlying framework, locally owned corporate have been slow to subscribe to electronic banking mainly due to fears of loss of control. Even multinational corporations (MNCs) have been unable to implement an efficient and integrated cash management system due to low volumes and a lack a full array of cash management products and services with the banks. Figure 2: Cash Management for the Middle Eas •Current Practice by Corporate, and Trends in Cash Management: The concept of cash management is fast catching on in the region.
With an increasing number of companies looking beyond their domestic frontiers to sustain growth, there is a need to optimize costs and manage risk. While MNCs have the concept filtered down from their group offices, large professionally-managed domestic companies with a well-diversified portfolio are increasingly looking at cash management as an important risk management tool. In the Middle East, companies are looking at online banking information and the automation of transaction processing by the use of an integrated banking platform, preferably interfaced with their back office system.
This trend is growing as companies adopt enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems. Cash management requirements among corporate vary depending on the size and nature of operations. MNCs and large corporate look for more comprehensive cash management tools involving non-resident accounts, interest-bearing deposit accounts, cross-border cash concentration, and notional pooling. Also, those corporate with clearly defined collection and payment processes perceive accounts payable as a non-core business activity and look to outsource these services to banks.
Meanwhile, the huge middle-market corporate, which are not really geared towards full automation, are limited to piecemeal use of electronic banking services. Banks offer varied cash management services and product ranges. In general, the international banks, which have a better regional network and offer more sophisticated electronic banking platforms and domestic and cross-border liquidity mechanisms compared to domestic banks, are clearly the leaders in cash management business. Domestic banks score better on in-country branch networks •What Does the Future Hold For Cash Management in the Middle East? Direct debits: Wherein based on a standing debit authority, utility and other bills will be directly raised by utility companies to banks who will debit the customer account and pay. •Bulk upload of salaries to debit cards and withdrawals through ATMs specially located in customer premises. •Complete debtor/invoice payments follow up on behalf of customers to ensure that invoices are collected in time. •Complete and automatic link up of all payments for purchases/supplies, wherein banks will automatically pay for the purchases made by customers, based on invoice details uploaded automatically. Secured payment gateways between the top 100 to 200 companies in the world, wherein a global clearing player (could be a top class global bank) will act as a central clearing bank for such companies and any funds or payments for them will be routed through the clearing bank globally. •Conclusion: The economic stability and the world class infrastructure offered by the Middle East makes it an attractive destination for setting up of shared service centers (SSCs). Locations such as Bahrain and Dubai have already emerged as preferred centers for setting up of regional hubs covering the Middle East and some African countries.
Banks in the region are waking up to the tremendous potential of e-banking, and are investing heavily in technology. The next few years present exciting times for the business and service providers, as the new and existing players gear up to meet the challenges being offered by the New Economy On corporate cash management in the GCC, V. P. Nagarajan, executive director at Emirates Trading Agency – Ascon Group says: “Corporate cash management is an important tool of corporate finance today and, as days pass by, cash management will be the centre point around which the functions of finance will revolve.
If we have a financial crystal ball and look into the future, we can visualize a corporate cash manager juggling his financial resources across the world in a computer the size of his palm. At the press of a button, he will be traveling over the notional financial super highway (which should take about a few seconds to reach the other parts of the globe and the universe) for a virtual reality decision across.
Some of the easier decisions in those days will be there will no physical currencies (saves a lot of printing and paper expenses), no multiple branches of banks (all of them will be operating from internet or computer driven global centers), and still there will be the cash management sales bankers who will come and try to sell what they do not have. ” Hopefully corporate cash management will see a world of change as we move forward. •References: 1-http://www. gtnews. com/article/6920. fm Cash Management in the Middle East Rajeev Babel, HSBC Global Payments and Cash Management 2-http://www. gtnews. com/article/4172. cfmCash Management – The Middle East PerspectiveVenkatesan Thiagarajan, Barclays 3- Essentials of treasury management second edition (association for financial professional) . 4- De Gidlow, R. , Donovan, S. (2005), Cash Management Techniques. In: The Treasurer’s Handbook 2005, Act, London 5- Heezius, D. , Polak, P. (2006), Country Guide: The Czech Republic. In: The Treasurer’s Handbook 2006, Act, London.
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