Etihad Airways receives top honors at Treasury Today Adam Smith Awards 2016

Ricky Thirion (right), group treasurer at Etihad Airways
Ricky Thirion (right), group treasurer at Etihad Airways
Etihad Airways recently won top honors at the Treasury Today Adam Smith Awards 2016 for setting a world-class standard in treasury and financial best practices in all areas of its operations.

The company garnered the Top Treasury Team award as well as awards for Best Financing Solution and Best Cash Management Solution at the event in London.

Etihad Airways' treasury team won the award for providing a centralized value-add service out of its head office in Abu Dhabi for continuous and growing operations, which span more than 70 countries with service to more than 110 destinations.

“We are proud to have won Treasury Today’s Top Treasury Team award,” Ricky Thirion, group treasurer at Etihad Airways, told Gulf News Journal. “This is a global award that recognizes the achievements of the entire Etihad Airways treasury team. The Treasury awards would not have been possible without the support of our shareholders, board of directors and our executive management - plus, of course, our external business partners (banks and vendors).”

Since early 2015, the Etihad Airways treasury team has been working to deliver a three-year transformation consisting of a number of strategic initiatives while also running the day-to-day treasury business for its international aviation operation. The team has been closely involved in capital structuring, corporate deals for aircraft and engine orders and re-engineering cash management structures besides supporting 13 domestic business units and eight equity partner airlines.

Also, the group has recently changed its entire treasury infrastructure, which includes implementing Openlink’s Findur product globally across its network, SWIFT for corporates for all of its global payments and confirmations as well as ensuring that it has STP (straight through processing) where possible.

“We are not a ‘standard’ corporate treasury function,” Thirion said. “The group treasury team also has global responsibility for corporate and structured finance, insurance and risk management, payment and fraud solutions in addition to the corporate treasury function.”

The Best Financing Solution award was presented to Etihad Airways for its successful issuing of a unique $1.2 billion platform financing to raise five-year unsecured debt for members of Etihad Airways Partners (EAP), Etihad Airways’ equity alliance of six airline partners.

This innovative platform financing structure acts as a centralized funding vehicle, which enables airlines to access the capital markets in a transparent and efficient way. It allows investors to capture multiple airline risks in one structure as opposed to a single entity exposure. It raised unsecured funding for Etihad Airways and its equity partners without recourse to Etihad Airways.

“The investors are structurally subordinated to the senior secured debt of each obligor and unsecured debt of the obligors’ subsidiaries,” Thirion said. “Its formation involves significant legal and tax structuring as well as governance in accommodating a diverse pool of borrowers and their legislative framework. Moreover, the two transactions demonstrate the belief the market has in the Etihad Airways Partner story and the strength of the grouping as well as the strength of the member airlines.”

Etihad Airways won the Best Cash Management Award for implementing an innovative global cash management solution that allows it to manage, control and report global cash centrally.

“Cash management has always been key for any business, especially in an airline group with currency and cash exposures in more than 70 countries,” Thirion said. “We have recently gone live with phase one of our global cash management project. This project will generate a five-year cost benefit of over $7 million for the business while improving operations by reducing 100 transactional banking relationships to 14, with two banks making up 98 percent of the network.”

In parallel to the physical bank account structure, which includes both cash concentrations and notional pooling structures, Etihad Airways has also implemented SCDM (smart cash deposit machines), that assist the business in depositing cash at point of sales across the Middle East, and these are soon to be deployed across the global network.

“The recent honors complement the large number and variety of awards that Etihad Airways, the group and our partner airlines collect on a regular basis,” Thirion said. “These accolades reward and recognize our group’s strategy to constantly innovate and improve to provide cost-effective, high-quality products and services to our guests.”

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