Innovative and forward-looking describe all the treasuries that have won Alexander Hamilton Awards over the last 16 years but none more so than Microsoft. With its fourth Overall Excellence Award in 2011, the technology giant extends its lead in winning the most overall honors since the program began in 1996—when the first ceremony was held at the Breakers in Palm Beach (for AHA trivia buffs). Microsoft first won Overall Outstanding Treasury Achievement in the third AHA competition in 1998.
Then-treasurer Jean-Francois Heitz (now retired and an AHA judge for the last six years) smiled on the cover of then-Treasury & Risk Management magazine. Microsoft finance executives would smile on two more AHA covers, in 2001 and 2003.
Meanwhile, two years ago Zinn led Microsoft’s first debt issuance, which was awarded a triple-A credit rating. The low interest rate environment makes borrowing very attractive. Even though Microsoft is sitting on a mountain of cash, a larger portion of it is overseas, as is the case for many large corporations, Zinn says. “Essentially domestic money is used to pay all your bills, like payroll, for dividends and buy backs. Currently, the money internationally is permanently invested overseas. It’s unavailable for corporate uses without paying a rather large tax.”
Investing for growth and new strategic initiatives, like the cloud for online services, and really interesting growth-oriented acquisitions, such as the recent Skype purchase, are part of the game plan, says Klein.