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Creating value in cash & treasury management.

Creating value for multinationals and corporations in the area of cash and treasury management centers on maximizing cost efficiencies and exploiting key international opportunities within fast moving markets, according to industry experts.

"The past several years have been challenging for clients. Corporations are doing business in an increasingly competitive global marketplace, interest rates are at historic, all-time lows and the credit market remains a difficult one," said Dardo A. Sabarots, global transaction services head, Citigroup Latin America and the Caribbean.

Citigroup[R] Global Transaction Services is a leading provider of integrated cash management, trade, securities and fund services for corporations, financial institutions, intermediaries and governments around the world. With over US$115 billion in average liability balances, more than US$6.4 trillion in assets under custody and the largest proprietary branch network, Citigroup's awardwinning operating systems and Internet-based delivery channels enable clients to manage and monitor working capital and investments more efficiently, streamline transaction processing cycles, and re-engineer receivables and payment processes.

Citigroup[R] Global Transaction Services provides clients with access to Citigroup's full range of capabilities and solutions along with an on-the-ground presence and in-depth knowledge of more than 100 local markets.

The company's CitiDirect[R] Online Banking, a Web-based corporate banking and information delivery platform recently ranked first in an independent benchmarking study of Internet-based cash management applications for corporations and financial institutions conducted by institutional research firm Greenwich Associates.

"Chief financial officers and treasurers of small and large companies around the world have signaled a need to optimize both their treasuries and supply chains, while increasing operating efficiencies, better manage risk and free up working capital," Sabarots added. "Clients increasingly demand delivery of products through global channels that require streamlined implementation processes. We deliver this through our ability to integrate Citigroup's global capabilities with our clients' environments without significant development effort on their part."

The company's clients in Latin America and the Caribbean use CitiDirect[R] Online Banking to initiate local and cross-border payments and trade transactions, as well as access netting, collections, liquidity management, investments, multibank cash concentration services, insurance letters of credit, information reporting and continuous linked settlement (CLS).

"We continuously add new features and functions to CitiDireet. For example, over 30 countries received enhanced payment functionality, as well as the ability to make payments for the first time in 11 new countries, and to receive payments (collections) in 10 new countries," Sabarots said. "In addition, our trade standby letters of credit capability and enhanced messaging have been expanded to some 15 countries."

CitiDirect has also added several new services, including Event Notification that allows clients to receive regular notifications as specified transactions and events take place via email, telephone, Blackberry, or other PDA devices, and Payment Investigations that give clients the ability to initiate, view, search, and update payment investigations from any computer, at any time.

Also added to the CitiDirect service is a new, more powerful reporting engine and flexible file management capabilities that provide clients with more in-depth, real-time intelligence on their accounts. A Report Assistant feature and enhanced Favorites Reports functionality were added as well, helping clients manage reports more efficiently, while the group has also rolled out Automated File and Report Delivery capability to automate clients' routine tasks.

"We also help clients optimize supply chains as commercial integration across the supply chain is an ongoing challenge for many of our clients in their quest for higher levels of operating efficiency and tighter integration with their financial supply chain," Sabarots said. "Client needs may include the desire to centralize/automate payables and receivables, execute a shared service center strategy, implement greater levels of straight through processing to streamline large and small volume payables and receivables, implement electronic billing, finance suppliers or integrate with ERP systems."

It is particularly important to join clients in the process of optimizing their treasuries from the local, regional and global perspectives by providing cutting-edge solutions and products based on each country's local situation, maintains Juan Joss G6mez Amaro, director of transactional banking of Grupo Santander's America Division.

Santander is the foremost Spanish financial group. The company ranks second in size within the European region and is the 11th largest in the world in terms of market capitalization.

Considered a leading institution in Latin America with US$1.489 billion in net profits in 2003, Banco Santander also has approximately US$100 billion in business volume and a market share of 10%. In addition, the bank has 4,000 branches--the largest distribution network in Latin America serving 15.5 million clients with a presence in 11 countries.

For cash and treasury clients, Banco Santander offers Infocash--a transactional banking solution with a high added value, which allows Santander's international clients to manage their treasuries in Latin America in a centralized way, online and through the Internet.

"In Latin America, our goal is to be the transactional banking leaders, by offering products and services with a high added value to our clients. Companies are changing the way they do business with the goal of becoming more competitive in the regional and global economic realms," said Amaro.

He added that the bank has seen a trend toward the creation of 'Regional Treasury Centers' by multinational companies in Latin America. This has resulted in a growing demand for transactional services with high added value, particularly within 'business community' structures.

"Our response has been to bring together a highly specialized team in the region to support and advise clients during their treasury centralization and optimization process. We have also developed cutting-edge solutions, such as the regional Infocash program," said Amaro.

Infocash is an innovative tool created by Grupo Santander to control and manage regional treasuries. It is an integrated solution that connects the different local Cash-Management services through the Internet. Infocash offers an exclusive advantage in regional access to financial information in a consolidated, online format in three languages: Spanish, English and Portuguese.

Among its features are the consolidation of the company's liquidity status with Grupo Santander and other banks in a multi bank module. It also handles inquiries about transactions and account balances; provides direct access to Grupo Santander's local Cash-Management solutions; offers centralized management of local payments and collections--particularly in Latin American countries with a Grupo Santander presence; and has maximum-security standards.

"For our clients, cash management is a strategic service with a very high added value," said Amaro. "To us, it is an important strategic regional product to which we are deeply committed."

Cash and treasury clients operating in the Latin American market face unique challenges, according to Federico Buiter, president of Integrity Software Latin America. The company, which comprises staff with more than 10 years of experience in the region's cash and treasury market, provides solutions to help multinationals and other corporations automate, centralize and regionalize their cash and treasury functions.

"Connectivity is essential in the Latin American cash and treasury market because so many of the countries have different formats," he said. "Our Data Transfer Service (DTS) solution is able to translate all of these different formats into our clients' systems. We also have tools that forecast monthly cash inflows and outflows and tools that enable clients to look at their subsidiaries' cash flows and optimize working capital."

Integrity's automated solutions reduce the possibility of error, help save time and money, plus allow companies to take advantage of market conditions.

"Because our solutions allow for better planning, clients can have their positions ready as conditions in markets change so they can always make the most of opportunities to benefit," Buiter explained.
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Comment:Creating value in cash & treasury management.
Publication:Latin Trade
Article Type:Advertisement
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Apr 1, 2004
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