Corporate Treasurer of the Year Highly Commended: Bente Salt, Rentokil Initial plc

Published: Aug 2023
Photo of Bente Salt, Rentokil Initial Plc.

Photo of Bente Salt, Rentokil Initial Plc.

Bente Salt

Group Treasurer
Rentokil Initial logo
Rentokil Initial Plc offers pest control, hygiene and protect and enhance services. It provides services across various markets including food processing, pharmaceutical, hospitality, retail, healthcare, education and residential sectors. Rentokil is headquartered in Crawley, West Sussex, in the UK.

Bente Salt shines at Rentokil Initial with landmark deal

Introduction to Bente Salt

Bente Salt’s journey to becoming Group Treasurer at Rentokil Initial was quite interesting. Her first job after leaving university was as an assistant manager at McDonald’s where she had to turn her hand to everything, and it taught her to take responsibility at a young age.

After that she had an opportunity to work in credit insurance for a company called Hillsdown Holdings. Credit insurance was a part of the treasury department, and she thought treasury looked exciting. Everyone in the treasury department were accountants and members of the ACT, so her treasury journey started with an accountancy qualification followed by the AMCT and MCT exams. That is key to her philosophy, to identify something you want to do and then to just go for it and make it happen.

Bente has been at Rentokil Initial for seven years and was originally hired as Head of Treasury, before being promoted to Group Treasurer.

2022 – a standout year

There have been many achievements in that time but 2022 has been a particularly stand-out year as Bente has managed the cash funding element for the strategic acquisition of Terminix, which was the second largest pest control company in the US, in a US$6.7bn cash and shares deal.

This was a landmark deal for Rentokil Initial, helping to create a global pest control business with operations in 90+ countries and over 56,000 employees. Rentokil Initial’s core treasury team is extremely lean (seven people), but they were able to bring the deal to a successful conclusion.

Portrait of Bente Salt, Rentokil Initial plc

Putting the financing in place for a Class 1 transaction has clearly been a major achievement for Bente. Rothschild and their banking partners have been in awe of what has been achieved with a DCM team of one, whilst still completing all the additional work she has as part of business as usual.

Putting day-one financing of US$2.7bn in place with one bank in time for the announcement on 14th December 2021 alongside working with S&P Global on a rating update was followed by self-syndication of the replacement facilities.

Bente negotiated a US$2bn bridge loan with 18+3-month tenor, and a US$700m three-year term loan. Despite the tight pricing on the loan, the company was able to get many banks to participate, based on the strong relationship Bente had developed with them over the years, and the trust they have in her to follow through on what she says. As a treasurer, she lives by her word and takes enormous pride in honouring what she promises people.

“I’m very proud to receive this Adam Smith Award. It is nice to be recognised. Clearly I could not have done it without the support of a very dedicated team, so this award is as much theirs as it is mine.”

Bente Salt, Group Treasurer

“We signed the syndicated facility on 25th February 2022, the day after Russia invaded Ukraine, so it was a difficult operating period, but we persevered. We worked through the regulatory requirements such as Sarbanes Oxley reporting and all the relevant F4 disclosures,” she says.

Due to the market turmoil caused by the conflict, it was very hard to raise debt in the period after the acquisition funding closed and the company decided to update its euro medium-term note (EMTN) programme and go to the Eurobond market and swap the proceeds into US dollars.

In June 2022, the company managed to secure a GBP£400m ten-year at 5%, a €600m ten-year at 4.375% and a €850m five-year at 3.875%. This has proven to be favourable pricing considering how bond yields have risen since then. A testament to how difficult the market conditions were in June 2022, the issuance in the Eurobond market represented 15-20% of supply.

Terminix deal

One of the major challenges of the Terminix transaction, was that it was based on cash and shares. Due to continued volatility in both debt and equity markets Rentokil Initial responded and put in place Deal Contingent Hedging (DCH) for over US$1.5bn of FX and interest rate exposure.

What was ground-breaking was that Rentokil Initial managed to syndicate some of these deal contingent hedges before shareholder approval. It was a difficult process, and after the deal closed, the company had to net settle across a whole range of assets, but it worked like clockwork.

“We worked with both Terminix and J.P. Morgan ahead of the deal completing, to merge two very large cash pools. The new structure was in place and sweeping on the first day after the acquisition was finalised. We then worked closely integrating all the cash management, reporting and management structures,” says Bente.

Terminix was a landmark transaction for Rentokil Initial, and for the UK business community. It is fantastic to see a UK PLC acquiring the second largest pest control company in the US.

Ordinarily there’s a lot of US-endowed investment into the UK, it’s great to see a UK company doing the opposite and investing internationally and growing its international footprint.

Bente Salt is most deserving of this highly commended recognition in our Corporate Treasurer of the Year category.

The Adam Smith Awards is the industry benchmark for best practice and innovation in corporate treasury. The 2023 awards attracted 320 nominations spanning 34 countries. To find out more please visit: treasurytoday.com/adam-smith-awards.

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