Few companies were hit as hard by the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks as American Airlines. The damage to its credit ratings thrust American into greater dependence on bank borrowings and ultimately will result in a realignment of its cash management business this year. It's an extreme case of a major trend in cash management.

"Until now, we would shop for the best cash management services," explains Tony Matteo, manager of domestic banking at the Fort Worth, Texas-based carrier. "If two banks were equally able and efficient, we might favor the bank in our credit group. Sept. 11 changed all that. It shook up our entire industry and changed our corporate culture. We'll be changing cash management banks in 2002 to reward the banks that stuck with us on credit."

More than ever before in cash management, the basis for doing business these days is quid pro quo. From the corporate side, the questions are: What has your bank done for my company lately? When we had that problem recently did you back us up or back away? From banks, the offer still is this: We'll give you a credit facility if you pretty much guarantee us your cash management business. In Treasury & Risk Management's 2002 cash management survey, nine of the top 25 cash management banks now owe 75% to 100% of their cash management business to credit relationships, while another 12 get 50% to 75% of their business from captive borrowers. None of the top 25 banks gets more than 75% of its cash management business independently. "Cash management has gone from being a stand-alone, fee-based business to being part of a package of services that is based on credit," observes Ann Givens, group senior vice president for cash management sales at ABN Amro Bank. "It's the biggest change I've seen in years."

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