If there were one type of company that you would expect to be on top of global cash management, it would be a company like Chiquita Brands International Inc. Although located in Cincinnati, the fruit producer and supplier has operations worldwide, from farms in Latin America to distribution centers in Asia. Daily, its treasury operations deal in dozens of currencies. But if you ask assistant treasurer Lynn P. Younger, she will tell you that even Chiquita's globalization efforts are a work in progress. While the number of its corporate overseas bank accounts has been slashed in half over the last couple of years, it still stands at around 380, well short of its target of 100 to 150 accounts by the end of 2004. "We're making a big push to centralize things and reduce our huge number of legal entities," she says. Why? Because Chiquita's cash, sitting around the world in a variety of accounts, could be better used elsewhere.

It is not an uncommon tale even among the biggest multinational corporations. Although standardize, centralize and globalize have been the mantra for cash management for the past decade, most efforts to date have been essentially treasury tinkering, the bottom-up inspirations of lean treasury staffs looking to gain productivity and take advantage of new communications technology and banking services.

A Directive from Upstairs

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