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Interview – Christophe Liaudon

Christophe Liaudon

Being open to new products in capital markets

Can you give us a few facts and figures about your company?

Our historical activities linked to the post, mailing machines, six station inserters and associated services, which still represent a significant amount of our revenue – 87% of the 1,070m euros in 2012 – have limited growth. They are now completed by associated activities which themselves, are truly springboards for growth. These activities concern packages, data information with Satori Software and Human Inference as well as customer service management – as we can see in documents written using GMC Software Technology. One thing that is characteristic of Neopost, apart from the high level of its recurring revenues, is its high level of internationalisation: just over a fifth of our sales take place in France, and North America represents roughly 40% of our turnover and the United Kingdom and Germany respectively represent 12% and 7% of it. What’s new is our geographical expansion into Asia, where our turnover increased five-fold in only two years. Neopost, with an Ebitda of 260m euros in 2012 and a net result of 161m euros, is listed on the Euronext Paris stock exchange, with a capitalisation of 1.8bn euros [on 27 August].

What is the operational structure of the company?

Except for cash management, it is very decentralised and local entities enjoy a large level of autonomy, in particular in managing their working capital requirements. In 2002, a major acquisition using debt led us to kick off a liquid asset optimisation campaign where we created a Group Treasury department and also rolled out steering tools adapted to a medium-sized, albeit already very international, company. In 2009, we decided to roll out SWIFTNet File Act, and to target software-as-a-service with Kyriba, in order to anticipate the end of Etebac and facilitate our international deployment to complete the organisation of our local cash pooling. As for cash management, our new challenges include rolling out the Asia-Pacific zone, with new questions linked to exotic currencies and the integration of new entities which have not yet been present on our traditional markets and whose ways of working are often quite different from ours.

What are the other prerogatives a Central Treasury enjoys?

Exchange and interest rate hedging are a part of them. In the field of currency exchange, in just ten years we went from three to ten parities to manage with a centralised organisation.

Our strategy allows us to almost systematically defend our budget quotations, with a stable volume of course. Concerning the exchange rate risk, we’re not really trying to optimise financial results in the short term. We implement a three- to five-year plan in order to smooth exchange rate increases and decreases as necessary. Forex Finance is supporting us in the implementation of our exchange and exchange rate strategies and also ensures the value of our operations in compliance with the IFRS standard and quite a bit of the back office. Lastly, the expansion of our leasing activity, which has been gaining ground since 2003, as well as actively managing our debts, currently represents one of the key functions of the Central Treasury. The amounts at stake are now high: over a billion euros of confirmed transactions and most of them have already been completed.