Strategic Treasury

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Interview: Eric Bosdonnat, La Poste We speak to the Finance and Treasury Manager at La Poste about the big issues the treasury team has faced, debt management and revising the group's investment strategy.

Eric Bosdonnat

Finance and Treasury Manager, La Poste

“We have brought the average cost of the debt down to 3.25%”

Everyone knows La Poste, even if they aren’t up-to-date with recent developments.

La Poste, which employs almost 270,000 people, 250,000 of whom are in France, and which had a turnover of more than €21bn in 2011, has in fact undergone huge changes in the last 10 years. Some of the more notable events include the creation of La Banque Postale, the modernisation of the postal service’s industrial resources and of post offices, the internationalisation of L’Express, new measures to improve working conditions, and, in 2010, the company’s transformation from a ‘public institution’ to a public limited company, prior to the acquisition of stock by the Deposits and Consignments Fund, whose stake will be 26.3% after the capital increase of €2.7b which is taking place between 2011 and 2013.

What are the jobs at the centre of this restructuring?

In addition to the two services – the postal service and express parcel service – traditionally provided by the parent company and its subsidiaries Sofipost and Geopost – there is now La Banque Postale, which is already a fully active bank centred on retail banking in France. La Banque Postale began in 2011 to lend to businesses and lending to local authorities from 2012. L’Enseigne La Poste, which runs the network of 17,000 post offices on French national territory, is in the process of developing particular areas, notably telecommunications with La Poste Mobile.

What are the big issues that the treasury team has faced?

Firstly, we had to deal with a very centralised treasury – I must point out that the whole group, with the exception of La Banque Postale, is financed by the central treasury – which operates using cash pools across over 4,000 accounts, to be balanced daily, with a monthly volatility of about €600m. This is mostly due to the debits of our ‘business’ clients in several areas and to salaries and social security contributions. Another important issue concerns investments: we consistently have surplus liquid assets with a value of around €2bn which we need to invest, constrained by both counterparty risk and maximum liquidity. Finally, there is the management of a bonded debt of €5.5bn, secured with an EMTN of €7bn and actively managed through an underlying portfolio of derivatives – mainly interest rate – of €5bn. Finally, there is the management of a programme of commercial papers of €1.5bn: currently €300m have been drawn and non-drawn confirmed lines of banking credit – syndicated credit, bilateral lines of credit – amount to a total of €1.2bn.

How big is your team? How is it organised?

There are 11 people in the team. Four work in the front office, responsible for cash management, market operations, investments and debt issues; five in the middle and back offices are in charge of risk management – within our ‘limit guidelines’ – project management of the treasury’s IT systems and intragroup financing, and one team member is in charge of the legal aspects and authorisation management. In addition I have created a strongly operational role. This means that I am able to project-manage large schemes such as the transition to SEPA and SWIFTNet or the development of IT systems, analysing the impact on the organisation of these big projects, writing up the procedures, processes and resulting modus operandi and acting as the link between the different sectors of the company involved in the changes.

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