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Harnessing the Power of Technology Highly Commended: AkzoNobel N.V.

Photo of Laura Koekkoek, Zanders and Paul Waldenmaier, AkzoNobel N.V.

AkzoNobel set up a brand new treasury entity to supports its recently spun off chemicals division in a rapid six-month timeframe.

Photo of Laura Koekkoek, Zanders and Paul Waldenmaier, AkzoNobel N.V.

Paul Waldenmaier

Manager Treasury Infrastructure & Projects

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Arnhem, The Netherlands

AkzoNobel, headquartered in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, has operations in more than 80 countries and is a leading global paints and coatings company and is also a major producer of speciality chemicals.

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Technology supports the rapid creation of a new treasury entity

The challenge

In early 2017, AkzoNobel decided to split its business in two, creating a chemicals division and a paint and coatings division. Whilst much of these two divisions were already quite separate, corporate functions, including treasury, were not.

A treasury function, therefore, had to be created to facilitate the spin-off of the new chemicals division by 1st January 2018. This meant getting people, processes and systems in place in a six-month timeframe.

The solution

Technology would be at the core of the new treasury. AkzoNobel, therefore, began by cloning its SAP treasury modules, which the company has used to support its treasury processes since 2010. Then, partnering with Zanders, it set about cleansing the system and connecting it up with proprietary software provided by Reuters, Bloomberg, SWIFT and FXall.

In total, over 120 entities were migrated from one SAP Treasury system to the other. In the first week after go-live 2,800 payments were executed in the new system, 125 bank accounts were migrated and 90 new bank accounts were opened and configured.

New cash pooling structures and intra-day facilities were negotiated and configured. Over 650m of credit facilities for the chemicals business was arranged and over 1,000 documents and agreements were discussed and agreed with the different banks.

Another major characteristic of this project was splitting the two systems, whereas the future chemicals treasury organisation and legal structure of the future organisation were not yet fully known. This resulted in more difficult decision-making but the risk was mitigated by the guideline to go over with the same configuration as already existed and the flexibility of the system to add and/or remove legal entities on the go.

The whole project adhered to a strict set of timelines and had minimal impact on the day-to-day running of the company due to limited system downtime. No major issues have been reported since the system went live.

Best practice and innovation

Setting up a completely new treasury department in under six months is an achievement that should not be taken lightly, especially considering the size and complexity of AkzoNobel.

The new treasury scope includes over 120 entities, 90 new bank accounts, 650m of short-term credit facilities, seven new cash pooling structures and much more. There was a true collaboration between the AkzoNobel treasury team and the external consultants leading to a highly efficient and productive working environment in which issues could be solved easily and decisions could be made quickly.

Immediately after go-live, the system was released for full business use supporting internal and external payments, bank statement processing, cash positioning, FX and MM dealing and much more. The support period after the go-live was cut short due to the lower than expected number of issues and the project was closed while still under budget.

Key benefits

  • Facilitated the creation of AkzoNobel’s brand new chemicals division.

  • Limited negative day-to-day business impact.

  • Successful go live.

  • Improved efficiency.

Harnessing the Power of Technology Overall Winner

Tableau Software, Inc.

Tableau Software, Inc.

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Portrait of Paul Waldenmaier

Paul Waldenmaier

Manager Treasury Infrastructure & Projects

Paul Waldenmaier is Manager Treasury Infrastructure & Projects for AkzoNobel with over 15 years of combined finance, accounting, audit and treasury experience. His main responsibility is to continuously improve the global processes of treasury in a structured manner to sustain industry leading quality and cost effectiveness.