Most liquidity managers who have a cash acquisition pending park the funds they need at closing and move on to other issues. That wasn’t good enough for Google, a sophisticated and aggressive investor of corporate cash. In August 2011, the company announced that it expected to close a $12.5 billion cash purchase of Motorola Mobility around May 2012. Google’s portfolio management group, which runs strategic longer-term investment of the company’s cash reserve, began shifting funds to the cash management group, which invests the liquidity pool available for business needs. The liquidity pool, which normally holds $1 billion to $1.5 billion, began to bulk up, and the cash management group started looking for ways to improve the return on this pile of cash. Placing that much cash meant expanding the number of Google counterparties, but adding European banks required careful scrutiny of their stability and credit quality. Google bypassed traditional tools, such as credit ratings and CDS spreads, and found its own.
“We drilled deeper by looking into each bank’s usage of euro/U.S. dollar cross-currency swaps and other funding mechanisms,” explains Saif Ashraf, a senior treasury analyst. “Our better understanding of bank funding requirements also allowed us to negotiate better returns.”