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Why collaboration with senior management is vital for a CFO

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Deutsche Bank calls for industry collaboration on real-time liquidity management framework

By Lewis Miller, Chief Financial Officer at Frank Recruitment Group

When I made my first forays into the finance sector almost twenty years ago, the role of the CFO and the duties it entailed were worlds apart from what you see in the industry today. There’s been a marked move away from more conventional responsibilities to a more fluid role that requires the CFO to broaden their skill sets, and act as that pivotal force driving their organisation’s business strategy.

Lewis Miller

Lewis Miller

We’re living in the era of cloud technology. If a business wants to not just survive, but beat the competition, CFOs need to have the flexibility to grow in line with the evolving demands of their position. The main duties that typically fell within the remit of the CFO involved safeguarding assets, risk assessment and management, reporting, managing cashflow, interpreting performance and general financial planning and analysis.

These core responsibilities will always come with the territory, but they have transformed from the sole duties of the CFO into basic requirements expected right off the bat. Every new development in the tech world brings with it fresh expectations, generally more focused on implementing the organisation’s wider business strategy.

If you don’t have these core competencies down to a T already, then you might not be ready for this level of responsibility just yet. You need to get the foundations of the role nailed down before you can really thrive as CFO. The lion’s share of your energy needs to go into working hand in glove with your CEO, and making connections at board level to keep the gears turning smoothly and efficiently when it comes to the strategic side of things.

Getting the right support

To succeed as a CFO today, you also need to invest time and energy into building a team that you can depend on. Having the right people there to support you professionally allows you to produce high-quality work and maintain standards across your department, hitting all the occupational cornerstones we’ve just mentioned. This frees up precious time for you to work with C-suite to continue driving the organisation forward.

Technology and the modern CFO

Technology has given us the ability to analyse and derive insight from structured and unstructured data which has created an unprecedented number of opportunities for CFOs to recognise macro trends. CFOs then apply these high-level insights to their financial planning and investment decisions, paving the way to a more profitable future for the wider business.

You need to stay up to date on all the latest advancements relevant to your industry, and harness that technology to use data to obtain more granular insights and broaden the reach of your business. To do that, a CFO needs to hone the practical skills necessary to properly analyse and interpret that data before using it to sharpen their strategy and keep up with the rest of the industry.

Build those bridges

Perhaps the most important thing my career has taught me is the value of communication. From day one as CFO, it’s imperative that you focus on establishing relationships with the rest of senior management as well as the other departments across the business.

If you’re new to the role, be sure to take the time to really get to know your organisation, really understand your target markets and the various challenges and opportunities they hold. Speak to department heads and key decision makers to get a crystal-clear understanding of how the business operates, and give you a better appreciation for how any strategies or budgets on your desk could affect your organisation.

The bottom line

The bottom line is this: fail to invest time in building relationships early on in your time as CFO, and you could cripple not just one or two departments, but stunt the business’s growth further down the line as customers shift their attention to the competition.

When an organisation is experiencing financial turbulence, for example,it can be tempting to just cut costs across the board, but a real understanding of the wider business could reveal that this might not be the best long-term solution. Take the time to carefully consider the long-term implications of every plan you approve and decision you make, because the remedy could lie in investing in specific areas of the business while cutting back on others.

To be a successful CFO, you need to be able to make predictions about not just your company’s future, but the future of the industry as a whole, and you can’t do that without knowing the business inside out.

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Robinhood plans confidential IPO filing as soon as March – Bloomberg News

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Robinhood plans confidential IPO filing as soon as March - Bloomberg News 1

(Reuters) – Online brokerage Robinhood, at the centre of this year’s retail trading frenzy, is planning to file confidentially for an initial public offering as soon as March, Bloomberg News reported late on Friday, citing sources.

The California-based brokerage has held talks in the past week with underwriters about moving forward with a filing within weeks, Bloomberg said.

Robinhood did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Reuters reported last year that Robinhood has picked Goldman Sachs Group Inc to lead preparations for an initial public offering which could value it at more than $20 billion.

Robinhood was at the heart of a mania that gripped retail investors in late January following calls on Reddit thread WallStreetBets to trade certain stocks that were being heavily shorted by hedge funds.

The online brokerage tapped around $3.4 billion in funding after its finances were strained due to the massive trading in shares of companies such as GameStop Corp.

(Reporting by Ann Maria Shibu in Bengaluru; editing by Richard Pullin)

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Analysis: How idled car factories super-charged a push for U.S. chip subsidies

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Analysis: How idled car factories super-charged a push for U.S. chip subsidies 2

By Stephen Nellis

(Reuters) – When President Joe Biden on Wednesday stood at a lectern holding a microchip and pledged to support $37 billion in federal subsidies for American semiconductor manufacturing, it marked a political breakthrough that happened much more quickly than industry insiders had expected.

For years, chip industry executives and U.S. government officials have been concerned about the slow drift of costly chip factories to Taiwan and Korea. While major American companies such as Qualcomm Inc and Nvidia Corp dominate their fields, they depend on factories abroad to build the chips they design.

As tensions with China heated up last year, U.S. lawmakers authorized manufacturing subsidies as part of an annual military spending bill due to concerns that depending on foreign factories for advanced chips posed national security risks. Yet funding for the subsidies was not guaranteed.

Then came the auto-chip crunch. Ford Motor Co said a lack of chips could slash a fifth of its first-quarter production and General Motors Co cut output across North America.

“It brings home very clearly the message that the semiconductor is really a critical component in a lot of the end products we take for granted,” said Mike Rosa, head of strategic and technical marketing for a group within semiconductor manufacturing toolmaker Applied Materials Inc that sells tools to automotive chip factories.

Within weeks, automakers joined chip companies calling for chip factory subsidies, and U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and President Biden both pledged to fight for funding.

Industry backers now aim to be part of a package of legislation to counter China that Schumer hopes to bring to the Senate floor this spring. Still, all agree it will do little to solve the immediate auto-chip problem.

Headlines about idled car plants resonated with the public that had shrugged off abstract warnings in the past, said Jim Lewis, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Lawmakers, already worried that a promised infrastructure bill will not materialize this year, decided to push for quick solution.

“Nobody wants to be seen as soft on China. No one wants to tell the Ford workers in their district, ‘Sorry, can’t help,'” Lewis said. “It was one of those moments where everything aligned.”

The package includes matching funds for state and local chip-plant subsidies, a provision likely to heat up competition among states including Texas and Arizona to host big new chip plants that can cost as much as $20 billion.

The subsidies could benefit a factory in Arizona proposed by Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co and one in Texas eyed by Samsung Electronics Co Ltd, even though those factories would be geared toward high-end chips for smartphones and laptops, rather than simpler auto chips. And those factories would not come on line until 2023 or 2024, according to plans disclosed by the companies, the world’s two largest chip manufacturers.

In the longer term, a raft of U.S. companies are also poised to benefit. Any chipmakers that build factories will source many tools from American companies such as Applied, Lam Research Corp and KLA Corp.

Intel Corp, Micron Technology Inc and GlobalFoundries – which already have U.S. factory networks – will also likely benefit.

Smaller, specialty chip factories also could benefit.

“The recent chip shortage in the automotive industry has highlighted the need to strengthen the microelectronics supply chain in the U.S.,” said Thomas Sonderman, chief executive of SkyWater Technology, a Minnesota-based chipmaker that makes automotive and defense chips. “We believe that SkyWater is uniquely positioned due to our differentiated business model and status as a U.S.- owned and U.S.- operated pure play semiconductor contract manufacturer.”

Even with subsidies, the U.S. companies still must compete with low-cost Asian vendors over the long run, and the immediate auto chip troubles will probably persist.

Surya Iyer, a vice president at Minnesota-based Polar Semiconductor, which makes chips for automakers, said his factory is booked beyond capacity and has started to speed some orders up while slowing others down, to meet automakers’ needs as best it can.

“We are expecting this level of demand to continue at least for the next 12 months, maybe even longer,” he said.

(This story has been refiled to add attribution to quote in paragraph 9, add dropped words in paragraphs 10 and 17)

(Reporting by Stephen Nellis and Hyunjoo Jin in San Francisco and Alexandra Alper in Washington. Editing by Jonathan Weber and David Gregorio)

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Atlantia disappointed with CDP bid for unit, continues talks

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Atlantia disappointed with CDP bid for unit, continues talks 3

By Francesca Landini and Stephen Jewkes

MILAN (Reuters) – Italy’s Atlantia said on Friday an offer by a consortium of investors led by state lender CDP for its 88% stake in Autostrade per l’Italia fell short of the mark and asked its top managers to see if the bid could be sweetened.

“The offer falls below expectations,” the Italian infrastructure group said in a statement, adding it had mandated the chief executive and the chairman to assess “the potential for the necessary substantial improvements” to the bid.

Italian state lender CDP, together with co-investors Macquarie and Blackstone, has presented a proposal valuing all of Autostrade per l’Italia at 9.1 billion euros ($11 billion).

The consortium also requested Atlantia guarantee up to 700 million euros in potential damage claims and another roughly 800 million euros for a pending legal case, making the bid less attractive than previously expected.

One source said the consortium estimated overall pending legal claims against Autostrade at 3 billion to 4 billion euros, adding the 700 million euro cap did not mean the amount would be detracted from the offer price from the start.

Earlier on Friday Atlantia’s minority investors TCI and Spinecap had called on Atlantia’s board to reject the offer, saying it undervalued the asset.

“No deal is better than a bad deal, especially a bad deal and a wrong price,” TCI Advisory Services partner Jonathan Amouyal said in a emailed comment to Reuters.

TCI, which holds an indirect stake of around 10% in Atlantia, repeated that the value for 100% of Autostrade should be no less than 12.5 billion euros.

The board will hold a further meeting in order to take a final decision on the offer in due time, Atlantia said.

The negotiations between Atlantia and the CDP-led consortium are part of an effort to end a political dispute over Autostrade’s motorway concession triggered by the collapse of a motorway bridge run by the unit.

(GRAPHIC – Atlantia share performance: https://fingfx.thomsonreuters.com/gfx/mkt/qzjpqggjdpx/image-1614331237501.png)

The bid expires on March 16, but the deadline could be extended in case Atlantia calls an extraordinary shareholders meeting (EGM) on the issue, according to one source with knowledge of the matter.

Shares in the group ended down 0,7%, after recovering some losses, as investors waited for the decision of the board.

Atlantia, which is controlled by the Benetton family, owns 88% of Autostrade, with Germany’s Allianz and funds DIF, EDF Invest and China’s Silk Road Fund holding the rest.

The group also kept open an alternative plan to demerge and sell its stake in Autostrade per l’Italia unit and called an EGM on March 29 to extend to end-July a deadline for offers for the demerged stake.

(Additional reporting by Stefano Bernabei, editing by Louise Heavens and Steve Orlofsky)

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