Strength through Integration
by Pierre Ferzstand, Global Head of Cash Management, BNP Paribas
On 12th May 2009, BNP Paribas completed the acquisition of Fortis Bank, becoming the number one bank in Europe for deposits and comprehensive European coverage. Following months of uncertainty and fragility in the banking market, BNP Paribas has remained resilient through the crisis. With the acquisition of Fortis Bank, the newly combined business is poised for future success in supporting our clients and delivering product and service innovation. BNP Paribas and Fortis Bank are highly complementary businesses, with each partner bringing strength and expertise in particular customer segments and geographies.
For example, BNP Paribas is experienced in providing global products to large corporations worldwide, in addition to serving the needs of retail and corporate clients in its domestic markets, France and Italy. We have particular expertise in emerging markets such as the Gulf States, North Africa, Asia (including India and China) and a full service offering in the US through Bank of the West. Fortis Bank, on the other hand, has developed a well-deserved market reputation for excellence in supporting the ambitions of large mid-cap corporates across Europe, together with a strong domestic presence in countries as diverse as Belgium, Luxembourg, Turkey and Poland.
This combination of domestic and cross-border capability results in a substantial depth of offering and unprecedented market coverage, from retail customers through to large multinational corporations, with comprehensive solutions across Europe and in key markets globally. Together, we bring a wealth of solutions across the spectrum of companies’ cash management needs, including notional and physical cash pooling, and we are a leader in SWIFTNet solutions for corporates, with the largest number of corporates connected to SWIFT globally. We are a strong player in the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA). Fortis was the first bank to test EBA for SEPA Direct Debits and the first to support a large corporation with high volumes of SEPA Credit Transfers.
The future of the new BNP Paribas is not simply based on what has been achieved in the past. We are committed to innovative solutions for the future, such as our new electronic Multi Banking Solution “Connexis V2”, that was launched at the beginning of this year, based on new generation Flex technology, allowing unprecedented integration with our clients’ in-house applications. We have strong solutions to support payment and collection factories. For example, our payment factory solution is a global offering with specialist features such as cheque printing, and detailed reporting for both the financial shared service centre and in-country finance departments. These capabilities are available through both electronic banking solutions and SWIFTNet. Collection factories are still relatively new, but we will provide a combined, SEPA-compliant direct debit and global card acquiring platform to support clients in enhancing their receivables management. We will continue to be a pioneer in SWIFT for corporates, for example supporting eBAM (electronic bank account management). We are piloting eBAM during 2009, which will be available through SWIFTNet and our own platforms.
Our clients can expect to see rapid integration of the two businesses, based on BNP Paribas’ experience of integrating the BNL business, and both parties’ commitment to the success of the new bank. This will allow clients to take rapid benefit from the innovations we provide. Both Fortis and BNP Paribas are contributing to the Cash Management University from 8th – 9th October 2009, and we will have a combined stand at the EuroFinance Conference. We are already completing requests for proposal and tender documents based on the combined Fortis and BNP Paribas offerings, including local payment solutions in countries such as Belgium, Luxembourg, Poland and Turkey.
We are reinforcing our commitment to customer service excellence to ensure that our clients receive support and advice in payments and liquidity management appropriate to their needs, particularly during a time of economic uncertainty. We are helping companies to make the most of the cash they have in the business and unlock working capital. This does not always require complex solutions, but involves a fresh, new way of looking at cash management. We look forward to introducing you to the new BNP Paribas and we know you will be as enthusiastic as we are about what we can achieve together.