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Technical committee profile: Committee on Corporate Finance.

If John Weisenseel gets his way, FEI's Committee on Corporate Finance (CCF) will--within the two years of his chairmanship--become an exceptionally active committee of about 35-40 members who work primarily in the treasury area.

Although the committee was established in 1980, it had been "essentially dormant," says FEI Director of Public Affairs and General Counsel Mark Prysock, who was charged with resuscitating the committee last summer. He determined that the formal structure of quarterly meetings wasn't working, and there wasn't consensus on which issues to focus on. So, he began rebuilding from scratch. He identified a few individuals from the former committee, as well as others who had expressed an interest in getting involved with the new group to help "work some of the issues."

The new CCF had its first in-person meeting with the Corporate Finance Division of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in October--an event that was "undertaken to really kick things off," says Weisenseel. An FEI member for four years, Weisenseel is senior vice president and corporate treasurer of The McGraw-Hill Companies in New York City.

Who would be interested in working with the committee--is it the treasurer? Since the function of corporate finance does not always fall to the treasurer role, but rather to a CFO, EVP or VP of corporate finance, Weisenseel wants to target other job titles--in addition to treasurers--for this committee. He says that while other organizations target treasurers' interests, none has FEI's depth and membership base from which to draw.

Weisenseel wants to focus on corporate finance issues, with links to Washington lobbying efforts--"to lobby Congress and the SEC on issues that all of us in the corporate finance world face." In addition, he wants to develop links with universities, saying, "I'd like to see it as a bridge to the academic world." He notes his involvement in the National Forum on Corporate Finance, which meets annually and is comprised basically of academics and practitioners. "The academics are always looking for avenues for feedback on their research, and many in the corporate world would seek out this research."

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Both Prysock and Weisenseel are looking at the original committee charter and changing it appropriately. The original charter authorized the committee to formulate statements and positions on capital markets and the capital structure and financial resources of corporations, including policies, practices, rules regulations, principles and standards. The issues CCF addresses include: debt and investment management, risk management, mergers and acquisitions, economic and financial analysis, financial communications, annual meetings and annual reports, and stock-holder and investor relations.

With no formal structure or scheduled regular meetings, the committee meets "on an as-needed basis via conference call, and we'll gather for face-to-face meetings occasionally," says Prysock.

Other objectives of interest to Weisenseel include producing periodic webcasts on topical issues, such as the impact of Sarbanes-Oxley on the treasury function. Also, he'd like to interact with other FEI committees, perhaps with the Committee on Corporate Reporting (CCR), since some things treasurers do overlap with the reporting function. For example, he says, pension accounting is an issue that most believe needs to be "re-worked," and one he believes the Financial Accounting Standards Board will be reviewing. Other subjects of joint interest are stock-option expensing and hedge accounting (FAS-133). "I think it would make sense to have periodic joint conference calls, so that we know what folks on other committees are working on."

Prysock also has interest in interaction with the Committee on Tax (COT), noting "a strong, but sometimes tense, interaction between the treasury and tax functions." From his role as treasurer, Weisenseel strongly agrees, explaining the situation he's facing at McGraw-Hill, which is a global company operating in many countries throughout the world.

"We have a treasury project that we're working hand-in-hand with the tax department, because once you start moving money amongst different countries, you run into all sorts of tax implications, as each country's taxation is different. More and more treasurers find themselves working hand-in-hand with the tax departments in their respective entities," he explains, adding, "That's a great idea!" He also suggests mergers and acquisitions as another subject to explore, since such transactions have tax implications.

Prysock notes CCF's involvement in planning the Treasurers' conference--an annual event for FEI--scheduled to be held in New York City in March. "We'll be relying on CCF to help develop content, and maybe provide panelists."

As for committee size, Weisenseel says that while it is small now, it is an "excellent mix," as members are from all sizes of companies and types of industries. "I hope we can maintain that balance going forward," he says, since members with different backgrounds bring much to the table. He explains that treasurers from large companies--like himself--tend to be very specialized, while those from smaller companies are more likely to be generalists.

The committee is actively seeking members, so interested readers are welcome to contact Mark Prysock at mprysock@fei.org.
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Title Annotation:Financial Executives Institute
Author:Heffes, Ellen M.
Publication:Financial Executive
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 1, 2005
Words:822
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