When David O'Brien came to EDS Corp. headquarters in texas as assistant treasurer three years ago, his mandate was to consolidate the far-flung computer company's treasury operations. "We shut down treasury offices in four places across the globe–Sao Paolo, Hong Kong, Mexico City and London–and we totally centralized, 100%," he says. Today, O'Brien and his colleagues run a global treasury from the $19 billion company's Plano offices. "There is no treasury outside of corporate headquarters," he explains. "We do everything here with regard to global liquidity management–all cash, all foreign exchange, all debt, all investment. All subject matter expertise for treasury services is here."

The benefits of this sweeping transformation, undertaken between July 1999 and February 2000, have been "huge." O'Brien says: "We reduced the amount of cash by something like 75%–and I'm talking hundreds of millions of dollars. We reduced foreign exchange trading costs by something like 60%. We reduced staff and associated costs by 44%."

Those kinds of results are fueling a rush toward consolidation of treasury management at larger companies. Last fall, a Greenwich Associates study of the 1,000 largest U.S. companies reported that 87% already consider themselves centralized and nearly one-third of the remainder plan to centralize within the next 24 months.

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