Treasury Today Country Profiles in association with Citi

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Best in Class Treasury Solution in the Middle East Winner: Alghanim Industries

Photo of Kevin Grant, Serrala, Richard Quinlan, Sonal Gupta and Pramod Bhattiprolu, Alghanim Industries and Bhairav Mehta, BNP Paribas

This is a project in payment process excellence which has completely transformed how this Kuwait-headquartered company manages its payments by leveraging SWIFT.

Photo of Kevin Grant, Serrala, Richard Quinlan, Sonal Gupta and Pramod Bhattiprolu, Alghanim Industries and Bhairav Mehta, BNP Paribas.

Robert Etman

Chief Support Services and Chief Financial Officer

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Safat, Kuwait

AIghanim Industries is one of the largest privately-owned companies in the MENA region. Founded at the turn of the century in Kuwait, the company today employs more than 15,000 people in 30 businesses across 40 countries in the Middle East, North Africa, Eastern Europe and Asia. Alghanim Industries is a market leader in almost every major sector of its operations, which include: engineering, retail, automotive sales and service, insulation and pre-engineered steel building structures, logistics and warehousing, fast moving consumer goods, food and beverage, office automation, advertising, insurance, consumer credit and travel.

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Payment Process Excellence project delivers ground-breaking solution in Kuwait

The challenge

Alghanim Industries operates over 300 bank accounts across more than 20 business units using a mixture of SAP and non-SAP transaction systems. Previously, payments were made directly by the business’s units through a variety of processes, some of which with limited preventive controls, resulting in numerous risks and inefficiencies. These included:

  • The use of manual and heterogeneous processes resulted in a heightened risk of fraud.

  • The lack of consolidated view on bank balances made it difficult to manage the company’s cash and liquidity position.

  • Reconciliation was subject to long lead times.

  • Synergies between different business units were not realised.

  • The company largely depended upon banks’ proprietary cash management systems.

The solution

The treasury department at Alghanim Industries embarked on a project called Payment Process Excellence.

The goal of the project was to centralise all payments made across different business units using a single system which was both secure and fully integrated with in-house systems, including both SAP and non-SAP sources. Alghanim Industries also aimed to reduce risk, eliminate paper and manual work, minimise cheque payments and speed up reconciliation times. A further goal was to secure proper process documentation and improve compliance.

The project was successfully completed within 12 months on an accelerated schedule. It included the adoption of SWIFT for single and bulk messages, as well as the implementation of Serrala on one of the company’s SAP instances. Serrala integrates with both SAP instances and non-SAP systems, as well as integrating with SWIFT. The new system also included the use of RSA authentication, a cryptography standard secure algorithm which authenticates users by generating a six-digit code that changes every 60 seconds.

This is a wide-reaching solution which has completely transformed payment processes across Alghanim Industries, leveraging SWIFT and tapping into technologies which are regarded as particularly ground breaking in the Kuwait market. Adopted on an accelerated timescale, the project has already delivered considerable benefits, including straight through processing, bank independence and increased visibility, as well as improving the company’s compliance processes. By largely removing the need for manual intervention, the company has considerably reduced the risk of error while also increasing productivity. By adopting this solution, the Alghanim Industries treasury team has demonstrated its commitment to staying at the forefront of treasury best practices.

“We are very happy to receive the prestigious Adam Smith Award for Best in Class Treasury Solution in the Middle East. This award is another wonderful achievement and a true testament to the professional skills of our treasury team at Alghanim Industries. We will continue to pursue the best practices and strive for excellence in the future.”

Robert Etman, Chief Support Services and Chief Financial Officer, Alghanim Industries

Best practice and innovation

Alghanim Industries is the first multi-business company based in Kuwait to implement a project of this kind, which supported a straight through processing payment system with the relevant banks. Many aspects of the project are considered ground breaking in the Kuwait market.

As well as harnessing industry best practices with the use of SWIFT to achieve a bank-agnostic solution, the project has adopted innovative security technology. Notable features of the solution include the use of RSA authentication and the adoption of an external biometric interface device to secure fingerprints within the Alghanim Industries environment. The device, which is capable of distinguishing between prosthetic and real fingers, provides additional security against misuse.

Adopting the SWIFT platform has enabled Alghanim Industries to implement ISO 20022 standards.

Key benefits

  • Fraud reduced.

  • Manual processes eliminated.

  • Improved visibility.

  • Process harmonisation.

  • Bank independence.

  • Standardised payment gateway to the banks.

  • Increased security with RSA authentication.

  • Paper-based transactions reduced.

Portrait of Robert Etman

Robert Etman

Chief Support Services and Chief Financial Officer

Prior to joining Alghanim Industries, Robert Etman served as Senior Vice President – Finance, for Unilever’s Global Supply Chain, an organisation that handled the procurement, manufacturing, logistics and customer service activities for the entire Unilever Group. Robert brings a wealth of international finance experience to Alghanim Industries, having held management positions with Unilever for over 20 years.