From among a field of strong competitors, Deutsche Bahn AG has been named the winner of this year's EACT Award. The German railway company, which is headquartered in Berlin, impressed treasury voters with its Digital Treasury project.
The initiative, implemented by the treasury department, focuses on a range of technologies, end-to-end processes and meaningful change.
The Digital Treasury project initiated a variety of innovative products with a focus on open-source and all are managed in-house by dedicated teams. The processes employed include automation technologies such as robotic process automation (RPA), optical character recognition (OCR), Power Platform and Electronic Signature; analytic technologies including databases, dashboards; text mining (e.g., mailbot, web crawling and sentiment analysis), web technologies, and process mining.
Armed with these tools, Deutsche Bahn Digital Treasury has initiated a series of projects in the past year. Triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic, it relaunched its treasury dashboard and the dashboard tool Cubewise, which automatically and in real time assesses key performance indicators (KPIs). Other initiatives include a fraud risk framework, a fraud dashboard, and an end-to-end guarantee process. The considerable financial benefits of these and other Digital Treasury projects are enhanced by the fact that they avoid commercial software costs by using open-source and Deutsche Bahn standard applications.
Digital Treasury is fully committed to environmental, social and governance (ESG) principles and aims to achieve a flexible and fulfilling working environment for all team members, which includes adapting work patterns to accommodate core hours and desk-sharing to improve work/life balance during the pandemic.
Deutsche Bahn AG was nominated by the German treasury association Verband Deutscher Treasurer (VDT). Dr Gerd Berghold, Head of Treasury Operations and Digital Treasury, was the nominee company representative. Dr Berghold joined the virtual announcement of the Award winner by Jean-Marc Servat, EACT Chair, and offered his thanks to the treasury team and all involved in the initiative. He explained the project had been conceived and implemented entirely within the treasury department without employing external consulting parties – and was especially proud that this had been achieved by using only open-source software and Deutsche Bahn standard IT applications.
Congratulations to the five other finalists. These were:
Nominee Company Representative
|Alza.cz a.s.||CAT (Czech Republic)||Jiri Ponrt, Financial Director, Alza.cz a.s.|
|Avebe||DACT (Netherlands)||Hans Miedema, Treasurer, Avebe|
|Deutsche Bahn AG||VDT (Germany)||Dr. Gerd Berghold, Head of Treasury Operations and Digital Treasury, Deutsche Bahn AG|
|Smurfit Kappa||IACT (Ireland)||Paul Regan, Group Treasurer, Smurfit Kappa|
|Société du Grand Paris||AFTE (France)||Etienne Oberthür, Group Treasurer Société du Grand Paris|
|VERBUND AG||ACTA (Austria)||Peter Kollmann, CFO, and Andreas Wollein, Head of Group Finance & Investor Relations, VERBUND AG|
Alza.cz, an e-commerce store based in the Czech Republic, decided after a lengthy search for a digital supply chain financing (SCF) solution, to develop its own in conjunction with Platební Instituce Roger a.s. Alza Invoice Financing (AIF) was launched in response to demand from suppliers to improve operating cash flow and pre-finance receivables from Alza and to optimise their working capital. Alza uses electronic data interchange (EDI) for communication and exchange of documents with suppliers.
Avebe, an international co-operative of more than 2,000 farmers in the Netherlands, needed to increase its funding arrangements with ABN AMRO and Rabobank in order to implement its new strategy ‘Binding and Building 2.0’ incorporating ESG principles and aimed at increasing food production and reducing the impact on the environment. Advised by Orchard Finance, Avebe successfully achieved its refinancing objectives despite the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Irish paper and cardboard packaging company Smurfit Kappa incorporated its sustainability objectives into the conversion of its €1.35bn multi-bank revolving credit facility (RCF) into a sustainability-linked loan. This formed part of Smurfit’s ‘Better Planet 2050’ plan and as well as potentially reducing the cost of unsecured funding it also reflected the firm’s determination to prioritise ESG goals and clearly defined KPIs.
Société du Grand Paris (SGP) was set up by the French government to construct and deliver the Grand Paris Express network, a new metro in the Paris region. In order to meet the needs of energy transmission while combining the interests of investors, SGP has become a pioneer in green finance: it was the largest issuer of green bonds globally with €11bn in 2020 and has developed a dedicated tool, CarbOptimum, to monitor the carbon footprint of building sites.
VERBUND AG is a leading Austrian utility and one of Europe’s largest hydroelectricity producers. It marked a new milestone in its sustainable finance track record at the end of March 2021, issuing the first EU taxonomy-aligned Green and Sustainability-Linked public bond. The 20-year senior unsecured €500m bond was oversubscribed several times and investors that are signatories to the UN Principles for Responsible Investment were given preferential treatment during the allocation.