Treasury Today Country Profiles in association with Citi

Lenovo

Lenovo (Singapore) Pte Ltd, Winner, Best Working Capital Management Solution

Photo of Nigel Lim, BNP Paribas and Nick Chen, Lenovo.

Lenovo was looking for a working capital solution to improve its balance sheet, so the company went about creating a supplier financing programme with the bank that would see Lenovo negotiate extended payment terms (from 45 to 90 days) with its suppliers while the bank offered Lenovo’s suppliers the option to sell their due-receivables.

Photo of Nigel Lim, BNP Paribas and Nick Chen, Lenovo.

Nick Chen

WW Commercial Financing Manager

Lenovo is a global leading Chinese multinational technology company. Lenovo has operations in more than 60 countries with more than 54,000 employees and sells its products in more than 160 countries worldwide.

in partnership with

Revolutionising supplier finance

The challenge

Lenovo was looking for a working capital solution to improve its balance sheet. The company’s initial strategy was to better manage its working capital through the sale of receivables on a without recourse basis, which would allow Lenovo to derecognise the receivables from its balance sheet and recognise cash.

The company had already implemented a similar receivables programme a few years earlier and wondered if there was a different option available so set about speaking to its banking partners to see what would be possible.

The solution

Lenovo was right and after speaking with its banking partner, BNP Paribas, it realised that it could reach its objective by focusing on the accounts payables instead of the accounts receivables side of the working capital equation.

It therefore went about creating a supplier financing programme with the bank that would see Lenovo negotiate extended payment terms with its suppliers while the bank offered Lenovo’s suppliers the option to sell their due-receivables.

Breaking down the solution, Lenovo adopted the following best practices:

  • Payment terms extension:

    Lenovo managed to extend the payment terms with its supplier from 45 days to 90 days by way of amendment to the purchase contracts. The suppliers were attracted by the programme in which they would have the option to receive a standard payment or to opt for early discounting by selling its receivables at an earlier date.

  • Accounting-friendly legal documentation:

    Under the programme, the bank signed a Payment Services Agreement with Lenovo, in which this document was restricted to the appointment of the bank as paying agent to the suppliers, with no reference to the financing transaction. This documentation enabled Lenovo to obtain a favourable accounting treatment as “trade payables” instead of “debt” on its balance sheet, allowing it to achieve its goals in improving its cash conversion cycle.

  • Effective syndication strategy:

    Funding is provided by banks for a total amount of US$575m.

Overall, Lenovo has been able to extend payment terms to its suppliers, resulting in an increase in its days payable outstanding and consequently improving its overall working capital management and balance sheet.

Best practice and innovation

This solution offers a unique and alternative approach to meeting the challenging objectives of improving working capital and balance sheet management at the same time. Also, the benefits attained by Lenovo were significant, especially when compared to the marginal gains that would have been gained from extending its receivables purchase programme.

“This award is external recognition for the hard work and effort that the team is putting into our working capital management, and we are honoured to have this award.”

The solution also brought about incremental benefits otherwise not typically achievable with current market practice and is readily scalable.

“This has truly revolutionised the way we manage our supplier financing programme,” says Nick Chen, WW Commercial Financing Manager. “This solution demonstrates an excellent example of best practice, innovation and partnership.”

Key benefits

  • Increased speed and efficiency.

  • Cost savings.

  • Improved accounting treatment.

  • Improved working capital metrics between US$200m to US$350m.

  • Reduced bank borrowing.

  • Streamlined documentation.

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