Finance and Treasury Manager – Bolloré SA
“We do not really have the cash pooling, we just have merged accounts on a scale”
La Lettre du Trésorier
Have you been with the group since it was formed?
I was extremely lucky to meet Vincent Bolloré by chance twenty-five years ago. At that time he was very young and had just bought back his family business from finance companies. The paperworks specialised in Bible paper, tea bags, carbon paper and wrapping tissue etc. All these activities have since been sold, apart from the polypropylene film used for capacitators, an area in which we are still one of the world market leaders. I believed in Vincent and his dynamic nature, disregarding the fact that the latest accounts were more than mediocre! And I have not been disappointed, far from it. What an adventure!
We are now one of the 500 biggest companies in the world, having increased revenues from an equivalent of €60 million to €6 billion. The group operates in 104 countries and employs 31,000 people.
Did you have any experience of the treasury function?
MB: I was experienced firstly in the banking sector where I started on core activities. Notably I represented my bank on the Chambre de Compensation des Banquiers de Paris, the Paris Bankers’ Clearing House, under the number 43, the Banque de France being number 1. The work was manual. All the large banks were located in premises situated in front of the artists’ exit at the Olympia, and physically exchanged cheques, bills of exchange and transfers three times a day, often in a very lively atmosphere. Afterwards, I joined the finance department of Sulzer, a subsidiary of a Swiss manufacturing company. The treasury function was in its early days at that time and we used a pencil and rubber on large sheets of graph paper. The AFTE had only just been formed.
The Bolloré Group now carries out several activities which are not closely related to each other?
MB: Vincent Bolloré’s policy is to have a diversified group in order to share the risks and to perpetuate the whole group.
We are now one of the 500 biggest companies in the world, having increased revenues from an equivalent of €60 million to €6 billion.
At present, the transport sector accounts for two-thirds of our revenues and comprises two activities. Firstly, the Transport Commission, which covers the organisation of transport with a network of 445 branches in 80 countries. Secondly, we are the market leader in port logistics in Africa, with 5,680 vehicles and trailers and three million square metres of platforms and warehouse space. Through Bolloré Energie, we have become the second-biggest French distributor of domestic fuel with 400,000 clients, and a significant logistics player in the oil industry, mainly through the Donge-Mehum-Metz oil pipeline.
Based on its expertise in thin papers, the Group started to move towards the manufacture of plastic films for capacitators before diversifying into shrinkwrap paper for packaging. In Thonon and in the Vosges region, we also produce thin papers used for legal publishing, religious works, industrial catalogues, direct marketing and pharmaceutical instructions.
Our subsidiary IER is the market leader, supplying large transport networks with ticketing systems and is a significant player in access control systems and radio frequency identification (RFID) systems.