Treasury Roundtable Event for PE-Owned Companies: Treasury’s Role in Value Creation 

June 2024
3 min read

Explore the crucial role of treasury in value creation and financial performance in private equity.

The evolving economic landscape has placed a spotlight on the critical role of treasury in value creation. Our latest roundtable, themed ‘Treasury’s Role in Value Creation,’ delved into the challenges and strategies private equity firms must navigate to enhance financial performance and prepare for successful exits. This event gathered industry leaders to discuss the expectations from treasury functions, the integration of post-merger processes, and the use of innovative technologies to drive growth. Read more as we explore the insights and key takeaways from this engaging and timely discussion, offering a roadmap for treasurers to elevate their impact within portfolio companies.

Roundtable theme: Treasury’s Role in Value Creation 

The roundtable’s theme, ‘Treasury’s Role in Value Creation,’ was chosen to address the pressing economic and operational challenges that resulted in longer holding periods and slowed exits in 2023. In this context, private equity firms are increasingly focusing on growth and optimization strategies to drive long-term financial performance improvements, positioning their portfolio companies for successful exits once deal markets rebound. Key questions explored included: What is expected from the treasury function? How can treasurers navigate priorities and challenges to deliver productivity, financial performance, and value-added analysis to their company and PE sponsor? How can successful treasury post-merger integration be achieved in a buy & build scenario? And how should one prepare for an exit? 

Key Insights and Strategic Directions 

One of the significant discussion points was the value of cash management as a directly measurable lever of value creation. The panel emphasized the importance of focusing on free cash flow, EBITDA, and debt levels, which form the backbone of a successful investment. These metrics are crucial during due diligence, as they are scrutinized by Limited Partners (LPs). The consensus advocated for a focus on organic growth and business transformation over multiple expansions, which can signal stability and long-term value to LPs, and therefore add significant value to PE firms. 

Moreover, it was discussed that, LPs intensely evaluate the financial models of portfolio companies, focusing on recurring revenue, Capex, margins, and debt levels. These factors often determine the soundness of an investment. The robustness of financial operations and the sophistication of the technologies employed are crucial in investment decisions, underscoring the important role of treasury in due diligence. 

Enhancing ‘Buy and Build’ Strategies 

Effective cash management was highlighted as a key factor influencing the success of ‘buy and build’ strategies, which involve acquiring companies and then integrating and growing them to enhance value. Effective cash management ensures the necessary liquidity and financial oversight during the integration and growth phases. An attendee noted that firms often "buy but forget to build." Quantifying the impact of effective treasury management is essential to addressing this gap. 

A way of realizing operational improvements is through increased automation. Despite some pushback from PE firms on automating treasury functions, there are instances where sponsors are willing to invest in technologies to support the treasury function. For instance, an attendee mentioned receiving a sponsor’s support to invest in technology that will improve cash flow forecasting. Additionally, the approach to value creation at the portfolio company level depends on the sponsor's type and level of commitment. 

The use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in search of value creation was also discussed. Notably, various tangible use cases for AI in Treasury are envisaged. One example highlighted was ASML’s use of AI for forecasting optimization. Even though the large chip-manufacturer is not PE-owned, ASML’s use of AI for forecasting optimization served as a prime example in the discussion. In 2023, ASML implemented an AI-powered material intake forecast model to enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of its purchase FX hedging program1. This sharpened focus on FX risk management is a visible trend across private market firms. Deploying more sophisticated tools to increase FX hedging effectiveness at the PE fund or portfolio company level is an area worth exploring. 

Looking Ahead 

We reflect on a successful inaugural edition of the Private Equity Roundtable. We learned that effective cash management is crucial for value creation, focusing on free cash flow, EBITDA, and debt levels to ensure liquidity and financial oversight, particularly in ‘buy and build’ strategies. Moreover, automation and technology investments in treasury functions, such as improved cash flow forecasting, are essential for operational improvements and enhancing value creation in portfolio companies. After the event, participants shared that the event added significant value to their roles as treasurers of PE-owned companies. The positive feedback energizes us to organize similar sessions in other countries. 

Is your company about to be or already owned by private equity? We can share our experiences regarding the added complexities of being a treasurer for a PE-owned company. For further information, you can reach out to Pieter Kraak.


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