The Refinitiv acquisition was “not about one company taking over the other”

VIDEO | When the London Stock Exchange Group (LSEG) completed its $27 billion acquisition of market data provider Refinitiv in 2021, it was the group’s largest transaction ever. Watch this session with LSEG’s Group Head of Treasury Oliver Wolfensberger, who took to the stage at Treasury 360° Nordic to share how the firm used the acquisition as a springboard to build a new and better treasury.

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The reality behind the headline-grabbing transaction was that a lot of integration work had to be done. But while LSEG was the acquirer, and Refinitiv the acquired, the group didn’t choose to adapt Refinitiv’s treasury processes into LSEG’s existing set-up. Instead, an unusual decision was made to develop an entirely new approach in the treasury.

“It was not about one company taking over the other,” Oliver Wolfensberger says of the decision. “It was about creating a new group with new ways of doing things, and in many areas, new people doing things as well.”

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No fancy solutions

The keyword in the integration was “fit-for-purpose”. He explains this with an analogy: “We were not looking at using a Ferrari or Rolls-Royce when a Volvo was what we needed. We wanted something that works, is practical, and serves the purpose. It was not about having the best of everything; it was about having the right thing.”

One of the most challenging parts of the process was shifting the department away from its execution-based model. Before the acquisition, LSEG’s treasury operated very much based on the direction and requirements of other departments. Post-acquisition, the treasury is now in the process of becoming a value-adding partner to the business, instead of merely executing directives.

Future proofing

The advantage of building a fit-for-purpose treasury is that it’s also likely to be future-proof. This is important, given LSEG’s frequent mergers and acquisitions. “We need a treasury function that is set up to grow with the group. We don’t want to go through this process again if we were to do another transaction,” Oliver Wolfensberger says.

The right support from the right people was listed as one of the factors of success for the transformation. “It’s vital to find people in the organisation who have a vested stake in what you are doing and have goodwill towards what is happening.”

Oliver Wolfensberger is Group Head of Treasury, LSEG

 

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