PROOF. Supply Chain Financing: An Alternative to Bank Lending and Supplier Risk Management

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1 TMI193 Geneva Roundtable:Layout 1 01/03/ :04 Page 24 Supply Chain Financing: An Alternative to Bank Lending and Supplier Risk Management The following document summarises the discussion during a roundtable event in January 2011 in Geneva, Switzerland, hosted by J.P. Morgan and chaired by Sebastian di Paola, Partner, Corporate Treasury Solutions Group, PwC. Welcome, everyone. I would like to start by asking Kieran to give us an overview of what supply chain financing solutions look like. With a variety of products available, treasurers are sometimes a little confused about the difference between factoring, reverse factoring and supply financing. Can you help with this? Supply chain finance, as we know it today, has evolved since the late 1980s, initially in Spain, during a period of high inflation and interest rates. This environment created considerable challenges for corporates in terms of working capital and a high cost and constrained liquidity, resulting in the launch of a domestic product known as confirming. During the 1990s, supply chain finance started to become more widespread in the US, initially amongst automotive firms, as companies increasingly recognised its value in optimising working capital. Since , alternative financing techniques, including supply chain finance, have also become prevalent in Europe. As Sebastian mentioned, one of the difficulties is the variety of terminology that is used to describe the same solution: some banks refer to supplier finance; others, reverse factoring; some, supply chain finance. These typically refer to the same product: essentially, a large corporate buyer with a high credit quality can extend credit terms to its suppliers by enabling them to discount their receivables. Suppliers who are most attracted to this are typically, although not exclusively, those with a lower credit rating and therefore more constrained access to credit. Suppliers 24 TMI Issue 193

2 TMI193 Geneva Roundtable:Layout 1 01/03/ :04 Page 25 insight Attendees Sebastian di Paola, Partner, Corporate Treasury Solutions Group, PwC (Chair) Daniel Hartmeier, Treasury Manager, SITA can seek early payment of invoices through the buyer s bank, while the buyer pays its bank according to the original or longer payment terms. There are a variety of reasons why a company would do this: Firstly, working capital optimisation, by pushing out days payable outstanding (DPO). Secondly, pricing. If a supplier is able to obtain cash quickly at a preferential rate through the buyer s credit, he may be willing to provide more favourable commercial terms. Thirdly, supplier sustainability. This has become particularly poignant following the crisis, certainly in certain sectors. For example, automobile companies found that some component suppliers were under particular stress, due to lack of liquidity. This in turn jeopardised the automobile company s supply chain. Martin Bina, Treasury Operations Manager, Caterpillar Patrick Hébert, Corporate Banker, J.P. Morgan Consequently, buyers with critical suppliers use supply chain finance to ensure the future viability of their supplier community. Martin, I know that Caterpillar has introduced supply chain finance. What was the main driver for you? All three, in some respects. We had a working capital focus, but we also wanted to help sustain our suppliers during difficult times. By offering them alternative financing solutions, we were hoping to see a pickup in the business and give our suppliers the opportunity to accompany us as we grew, without capital constraints, the effect of which would ultimately need to be passed on to us in the form of increased costs. Jean-Marc Buhagiar, CFO, Comptoir Balland-Brugneaux Kieran O Regan, Head of Trade Sales Europe, J.P. Morgan Treasury Services As a result of the crisis and constrained credit, we have also seen the need for corporates to tap additional sources of financing. This could be categorised within your first heading of working capital optimisation, I suppose, but do you see supply chain finance as a form of alternative financing? Absolutely. Corporates are becoming increasingly successful at leveraging various forms of financing. While they may have relied on syndicated, bilateral and letter-of-credit facilities in the past, a very large corporate may have anything up to $20bn of accounts receivable or payable on the balance sheet. These companies have managed their accounts receivable (AR) reasonably well over recent years, through securitisation, Peter Dielmann, CIIA, Consultant, Dielmann Services TMI Issue

3 TMI193 Geneva Roundtable:Layout 1 01/03/ :04 Page 26 The procurement department will continue to manage the supplier relationship on a daily basis. factoring or other forms of receivables financing. There has, however, been less of a focus on payables, reflecting a major asset on the balance sheet that is not being monetised. As corporates and their banks become more aware of the opportunity that leveraging this asset presents, solutions such as supply chain financing have evolved and taken root. Patrick Hébert, J.P. Morgan During the crisis, we saw banks deleveraging their balance sheet, significantly. Some banks were then forced to reduce their credit commitment and uncommitted lines with corporates. Consequently, using accounts payable (AP) as a source of financing became a great opportunity for companies. A supply chain finance structure is a longterm funding solution, based on shortterm payables; not only have these solutions helped during the recent financial crisis, they will also be there for the next one. It is not an easy alternative to bank lending, if I understand you correctly, because there is a certain amount of infrastructure that needs to be put in place. True, it is not a plug-and-play solution. Supply chain financing should be a strategic decision taken by an organisation, not just from a treasury or working capital management perspective, but also from a commercial procurement perspective. Another important issue is the increasing integration of the physical and financial supply chains. While banks have been promoting this integration for some time, it has taken time to gain resonance in the corporate community. Now, we see that many treasuries have reached a stage of evolution where they have set up either or both receivables or payables factories, put core financing in place, consolidated bank relationships and implemented sophisticated enterprise-wide systems. They therefore need to find new ways of adding value to the organisation. A key area of focus is working capital, and treasurers and their counterparts in procurement are now engaged in a far more active dialogue than we have seen in the past. There are still some developments that need to take place to fully enable this integration, such as in technology. There is discussion about order to pay (OTP), i.e., the ability to inject liquidity and financing into the business and trigger sourcing, production and distribution activities as soon as an order is received into an organisation. The technology to enable this is developing rapidly, particularly for organisations that are very advanced in terms of payables and receivables centralisation. The infrastructure requirements, and the need for treasury to work with the rest of the business, are amongst the distinguishing factors of alternative financing such as supply chain financing compared with traditional bank lending. Who is the main partner for treasury in this? Is it the shared service centre, the AP/AR team or procurement? While all of these are important in the context of supply chain financing, the procurement department will continue to manage the supplier relationship on a daily basis, and therefore their buy-in and support from the outset is critical to the success of such a programme. In terms of integration, the shared service centre and finance team will be involved in aligning your AP processes. IT and legal are also important. Martin, Kieran mentioned the importance of technology. What systems environment did Caterpillar need as a starting point? Are there ways of putting this kind of solution in place without a single ERP environment? We don t use a single ERP indeed, we do not just have a few, but many! Before looking at technology, processes need to be standardised. The faster we approve an invoice and get it to our supply chain financing provider, the more opportunity the supplier has to discount it. If this only happens two days before the invoice due date, there is no value in the offering. Once you have this invoice flow process set up, you can deal with technology and integration. Electronic invoice processing is clearly preferable to a manual processing, together with integration between systems, so an important criterion for us was that our supplier supported EDI. To some extent, it is a win/win, because enhancing your internal processes would have been an objective even if you had not undertaken supply chain financing. In fact, I would see it as a triple win: we, Caterpillar, win; the supply chain financing organisation wins, and the supplier wins. Daniel Hartmeier, SITA From what you have said so far, supply chain finance would seem to me to be the consolidation of certain tasks that have always been carried out, although there are now more sophisticated and automated solutions available. What is new to me is the idea of factoring through the bank. This must be something specific to production companies, as my background is more in the IT sector. Patrick Hébert, J.P. Morgan In regard to supply chain finance, technology has been the real enabler, as any type of payment terms can be utilised by the company, thanks to a smart combination of banks balance sheets and online tools. I agree with Patrick: technology has been crucial. Without centralised payments, enabled by specialist and ERP systems, 26 TMI Issue 193

4 TMI193 Geneva Roundtable:Layout 1 01/03/ :04 Page 27 insight supply chain financing could not function readily. You mention that different sectors have differing appetites for supply chain financing. In Europe, as well as the automotive sector we have already mentioned, retail companies have also been early adopters. The success of the larger retailers has in part been due to their ability to negotiate attractive terms with their suppliers. They recognised early on that supply chain finance was another tool they could use to extract the benefit of the huge payables portfolio on their balance sheet and leverage their better credit rating whilst enhancing their negotiating position. Today, working capital and supply chain risk management are high on CEOs and CFOs agendas, and an increasing range of companies are attracted to supply chain financing solutions. We are now seeing retail, automotive, heavy equipment manufacturers, capital goods and fastmoving electronics segments particularly attracted to supply chain financing programmes. However, there are some examples where a programme has been unsuccessful. Key to success is the quality of up-front supplier analysis and the supplier onboarding process. While this can be a lengthy and involved process, it is worthwhile in order to make the solution a long-term success. Typically, the more comprehensive the up-front supplier analysis, the faster and more successful the onboarding process. Furthermore, if the buyer organisation does not have senior level sponsorship and alignment of treasury, finance and procurement objectives and KPIs, there will be no roadmap towards the working capital benefit they are seeking, how they will achieve this, and measure its success. Peter Dielmann, Dielmann Services Would you say that the number and size of the suppliers, and the frequency with which suppliers change, is a factor of success? Not necessarily. We have seen successful programmes with two very large suppliers or thousands of suppliers. More important than the size or number of suppliers is the interaction with them. It is important to understand the supplier base, such as which groups of suppliers are likely to be attracted to a programme of this sort, and to adapt your objectives accordingly. This should be a collaborative process between the bank and the client. As I say, discounting receivables through a supply chain finance programme will not suit all suppliers. Some may have negative pledges on their accounts receivable; others may already be cash rich or have a strong credit standing. Having deselected those supplier groups for which the programme would not be attractive, you can then look at the remaining segments of your supplier base: often 20% of your supplier base will give you 80% of the benefit. That is where your focus has to be. You will have some large, strategic suppliers with which you have a close dialogue. The pricing you give these suppliers for financing receivables may be different from others. For smaller suppliers, the bank may lead the discussion, to educate them in the programme, how it works and the benefits. The buying entity also has to communicate with its suppliers that their commercial relationships will not be negatively impacted. They have to be transparent about their reasons for establishing the programme, and the benefits to the supply relationship. In the early days, some corporates went out en masse to their supplier community and dictated a change in payment terms, say from 30 to 90 days, and passed them on to their bank for financing. That type of approach rarely worked, as the trust between the buyer and supplier communities broke down, and the solution was not adapted to different segments of the supplier base. Martin, how did you go about approaching and onboarding your supplier community? Firstly, we introduced the concept to our own buyers, because they have the dialogue with our suppliers. We needed to have common goals and a consistent view of success across the team, but ultimately, our buying department would be crucial to ensuring that supplier community was on board. There were, of course, some surprises. Despite segmenting the supplier population, you find there are differences between countries, and some suppliers whom you would expect to be attracted to receivables discounting are not, and vice versa. For example, companies with a strong credit rating may see the attraction as a way of diversifying their financing. Based on what we have discussed so far, would it be fair to assume that while there are benefits, the up-front costs also need to be taken into account? One of the benefits that you expect is that, ultimately, you end up with a lower cost of funding compared to traditional bank lending. Is this the case? In theory, yes, over the long term that should be the case by extracting the value from the credit rating arbitrage, although we see well-rated suppliers joining programmes where there is in theory little arbitrage opportunity. Jean-Marc Buhagiar, CBB I understand this type of financing is appropriate if we have received an invoice once the product has been delivered. It does not work for prepayment. There has to be a financeable receivable. A receivable becomes much easier to finance once the buying entity has accepted that receivable. For a prepayment, it can still be financed so long as it is part of a long-term contract. As long as you enter into an arrangement whereby you undertake to make a payment for a specific amount on a A receivable becomes much easier to finance once the buying entity has accepted that receivable. TMI Issue

5 TMI193 Geneva Roundtable:Layout 1 01/03/ :04 Page 28 Supply chain financing gave us a tool that enabled us to extend our terms. specific date in the future, it is financeable as pure buyer risk, even on a prepayment basis, so long as there is a process of accepting the invoice. The difficulty is that prepayment typically does not allow for critical mass. The beauty of supplier finance is it is based on invoice runs, ideally electronically, on easily determinable payable dates. Prepayment arrangements tend to be more ad hoc and outside your standard invoice run, so they have to be dealt with slightly differently. So while prepaid invoices can be included, it tends only to be in exceptional cases. Before we talk about risk, perhaps we could summarise the distinction between supplier financing and bank lending. When you are comparing this solution to bank lending, you are not comparing like with like, in a number of respects. From a buyer perspective, the working capital benefit is achieved by extending payment terms. A supply chain finance programme is typically put in place to mitigate the working capital impact on suppliers resulting from the extension in payment terms. While the programme provides financing, it is not your main financing tool, and provides many other benefits. Over time, the working capital benefit can have a critical impact on your capital structuring framework. For a very large corporate, extending DPO by one day could deliver a working capital benefit of anything from $50m up to $200 or $300m each year. The benefit escalates if this is pushed out by five or ten days, and you could be talking about $500m or more. That is a very powerful argument to take to your CFO, chief executive or head of procurement. From a supplier perspective, they will compare the cost of discounting their receivables with other forms of financing as this is the primary benefit. We did some analysis, but we first analysed our working capital. The main issue was accounts payable and we wanted to bring our suppliers onto standard industry terms, but these companies also need to manage their working capital. Therefore, supply chain financing gave us a tool that enabled us to extend our terms, without increasing suppliers cost and ideally benefiting them in terms of access to credit. Is it fair to say that while a company may have increased its DPO, a bank debt, a liability towards a bank rather than towards a supplier may have been created? There is some historical precedent for this view in the US, but there is now greater clarity. Clearly every company needs to agree such a solution with its auditors, in order that financed invoices remain as accounts payable on its balance sheet and are not reclassified as bank debt. Typically the solution works because it is an individual arrangement between the bank and each supplier i.e., we have a nonrecourse receivable purchase agreement in place with each supplier, on a noncommitted revolving basis, whereby we agree to purchase the receivables of the buying entity. We do not have any financing arrangement in place with the buying entity, and the agreement between the bank and buying entity is simply a programme agreement to use the technology solution. The buyer simply settles their payable at maturity in the normal way. As long as these parameters remain intact, the buyer continues to treat the accounts payable as an accounts payable on his balance sheet, even where they increase the DPO. Auditors should be involved at the start of the process to ensure compliance with the relevant accounting regulations. Jean-Marc Buhagiar, CBB What happens if there is return or claim for refund for a product, such as a fault? Supply chain financing programmes can typically cater for credit and debit notes which are handled as part of the operation of the programme. However, more significant events such as a material commercial dispute on an accepted invoice would need to be dealt with separately and might not consititute a financeable invoice. Peter Dielmann, Dielmann Services We have described this as a win/win/win. However, as we know, there is no such thing as a free lunch. Somehow we have to pay for this solution with some sort of additional risk or inconvenience, or perhaps less flexibility. What are the inconveniences or additional risks that I take on in order to pay for these win/win/win situations? It is clearly very important to consider potential risk: for example, what will be the impact on your credit capacity in the market? How much credit will be required for a solution like this? In some cases, treasurers have the incorrect perception that a lot of credit is required, and therefore their bank credit lines will be utilised. Firstly, the credit requirement is not as great as you may think. Let me give you an example. Let s say the annual procurement amount of a corporate is $12bn. It has average payment terms with a DPO of 30 days. On a resolving basis, that is $1bn monthly. Typically in a successful supplier finance solution, you will have a takeup rate among your supply community of a maximum of 30-35%. Thirty per cent of a $1bn monthly spend is $300m. Therefore, the maximum you will need is a $300m revolving programme on an uncommitted basis. That is the rule of thumb in terms of the credit capacity required. Will it suck up credit capacity in the market? Yes, it will to some extent but many of your suppliers are probably financing their receivables using factoring anyway, probably at higher cost, so they 28 TMI Issue 193

6 TMI193 Geneva Roundtable:Layout 1 01/03/ :04 Page 29 insight are already absorbing a large part of that credit requirement. On a day-to-day basis, it should have no material impact on liquidity availability from your bank providers, aside from any credit events or downgrades that may happen to you as a company. What different types of structure are available, such as bank-agnostic or multiple bank programmes for instance, and how would these affect your overall credit capacity in the market? Individual banks have their own platforms, which they will finance from their own balance sheets. There are bankagnostic solutions in the market as well. They are essentially IT solution providers: they provide the IT platform and perform the onboarding process. They are not banks, however, and they do not have the balance sheets to fund it. Buyers have successfully used both proprietary solutions (with either one or multiple banks) or bank-agnostic solutions. When using a bank-agnostic solution, is the provider financially stable? In addition, how does this fit with your bank relationships? Global reach may also be important, depending on your supplier base. There are only a handful of banks that can truly provide a solution on a global basis. The technology aspect is not necessarily the differentiating factor, it is how they use their resources and the extent of their geographic footprint and true capabilities in regions such as Asia or Latin America. When looking at the funding sources, do you look solely at the balance sheet of the bank provider or that of all your house banks? For instance, we have clients using our solution, with some of their core banks also feeding in through our platform, through a risk-participation mechanism. We can also look at capital market solutions in which we can issue notes of paper and fund through that process. The bank can look at myriad solutions on a collaborative basis. The market is evolving in the way that banks work together: rarely will one bank support all your needs in every country, and from a credit diversification and risk perspective, you will probably want to use multiple banks in any case. However, you will not want to use multiple platforms. You have to decide whether a bankagnostic provider best suits your needs, given its structure, size and ability to fund, versus your bank, one bank or a number of banks. How does the traditional supplier financing solution compare with alternatives such as payment cards? In many ways, just as with bank financing versus supplier financing, it impossible to compare them as they fulfil different functions. Solutions such as payment cards provide some working capital benefit, but their primary purpose may be quite different. Looking solely at working capital, supply chain finance is probably the most advantageous with the potential for several hundred million dollars or euros in cash conversion on an annual basis. However, it is a complementary solution, not a competitor. Daniel Hartmeier, SITA Is the supplier obliged to maintain a bank account with you or can he just have a contract or agreement that the cash flow goes through his house bank? That is a good question. It depends on your provider. From a J.P. Morgan perspective, typically the supplier will not have to open an individual bank account with us. We have certainly seen that our clients interest in supply chain financing has increased since the crisis, for a variety of reasons, including situations such as the automotive sector where the financial health of key suppliers was in question. We saw several instances where clients even looked into directly financing a critical supplier that would be difficult to replace, and may even have considered acquiring the supplier. Do you see supplier vulnerability as one of the main drivers for establishing these structures in the future, or was it a temporary blip during the crisis? It is a key driver only within certain sectors, and automotive is one of them. I have seen a number of automotive companies critically concerned by their supplier base and its continuity. Yes, working capital optimisation is important, but that would typically be a second priority for them. In other industries, the priority(s) may be different. It is also probably fair to say that, for different stakeholders in the organisation, there are different expectations and therefore different arguments in favour of a particular structure. This is an argument that would curry favour with an audit committee or somebody who has an enterprise risk management programme, where supplier risk is an issue. Before engaging with a bank, a company needs to align its stakeholders internally, understand what the key drivers for each of those groups are and develop a structure that aligns the benefit for each of them. Daniel Hartmeier, SITA This seems to me to be a very interesting product for the IT industry, which typically works with consultants a lot. The majority of the suppliers are consultants, who are often individuals, so they would depend on being paid immediately. Can they be set up for such persons to basically have a monthly invoice? If you are requesting a bank to do a $1m programme for individuals, they would probably not be interested because it For different stakeholders in the organisation, there are different expectations and therefore different arguments in favour of a particular structure. TMI Issue

7 TMI193 Geneva Roundtable:Layout 1 01/03/ :04 Page 30 does not have a critical mass. If those providers are part of a $20-30m solution and upwards, the answer to your question is yes, absolutely. It depends on whether you want to look at them in isolation or as part of your broader supplier base. Daniel Hartmeier, SITA In a previous company I was running a project that had up to 200 consultants. Some of them may be regrouped in a consulting company, but a lot of them were individuals. The basic problem for a company was that these consultants wanted to be paid immediately on submission of the invoice. As a cashpoor company, you cannot provide that. One consultant submitted one invoice a month, and you might have a lot of these consultants. If these invoices go through your normal AP process as part of a broader supplier population, which has critical mass to extract the working capital benefits and it is interesting for the bank to finance, the answer to your question is yes. If they are physical invoices for small values in isolation, the answer is probably no. Kieran, in conclusion, what would be your advice to a company considering a supply chain finance programme? What are the first steps? Companies first need executive support, someone who can help to align the interests and objectives of the various stakeholders. They also need an internal champion or project manager to take ownership of the project and drive it through, who can work with all the relevant internal departments, and with the banking partner. The more preparation that takes place internally, in terms of reviewing the financing structure, working capital management and AP processes, the greater the likelihood of success. At that point, they can consult with their banking partners to find the best way of achieving their objectives. Thanks to all of you for your contributions and for sharing thoughts on this complex yet highly topical subject. Today s discussion confirms that there is lots of opportunity out there for companies to benefit, in a variety of ways, from these types of solution. 30 TMI Issue 193

8 TMI193 Geneva Roundtable:Layout 1 01/03/ :04 Page 31 insight TMI Issue

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