When Arnold Voet took up his position in Aalberts’ treasury department, he was confronted with a group made up of a multitude of small and medium-sized companies. These units had – and were meant to have – a great deal of responsibility and entrepreneurial spirit. The main regional focus is on Europe, North America and Asia. The different companies that have now been combined are responsible for production and sales to realise leading technology/market combinations.
Core markets and organisational structures have a great impact on treasury. For example, FX risk is largely irrelevant for Aalberts, while refinancing in connection with further acquisitions has top priority. Moreover, each acquisition comes with specific banking connections. When Voet started making changes to treasury management, the group had accounts with over 130 banks. Prior to these changes, consolidation had not been on the agenda, with the treasury department mainly focused on more centralised responsibilities. Co-ordinating the co-operation between group companies was not considered a key responsibility.
When taking up office, Voet set out to broaden the horizon and to establish a platform for all group companies – something that adds value to each company by supporting them in their daily operations. One of Aalberts’ guiding principles is fostering group companies’ responsibility and management’s ‘entrepreneurial spirit’. Group companies are clients of the head office, the latter staffed with only 25 people for the entire group – a very lean setup. In line with this principle, treasury is called to establish services that the group companies welcome and adapt accordingly. This included setting up a virtual network bank for the group in order to achieve an efficient banking structure.
What is a virtual network bank?
It is nearly impossible for a two-people treasury team at headquarters (supported by one accountant) to monitor accounts with 130 banks, and at the same time ensure maximum security and visibility.