This CFO Keeps Wal-Mart on Top By Richard Gamble

Tom Schoewe is sleeping well these days, partly because of $2 billion he didn't borrow in 2007. "That July, the treasury
group came to me," the Wal-Mart CFO recalls, "with a good plan for how we could borrow the $2 billion we were scheduled to borrow. They had done their homework and come up with a creative plan for a bond offering we could do at a low cost. We were growing nicely. The borrowing was part of our formal business plan. I reviewed it, liked the
way it was crafted and approved it. I ran it

by the executive finance committee and they approved it. We were ready to go. But that night, driving home, I started to think what might happen if we challenged ourselves and looked for a way to meet our goals without taking on that debt." The next morning Schoewe huddled with treasurer Charles Holley and the CFOs of Wal-Mart's three primary subsidiaries and asked them, "How would it hurt us if we didn't borrow that $2 billion?" Out of that session came an ultimately successful campaign the Wal-Mart finance team wryly dubbed "Don't Borrow $2 Billion" or simply "DB2B." "We tasked ourselves with finding the money other ways, by managing inventory tighter, by working with suppliers and increasing A/P," Schoewe says. It worked. And it worked again a year later when another scheduled $2 billion borrowing was canceled. "That's $4 billion we didn't have to borrow, due to the underlying strength of our business and financial operations," Schoewe boasts.

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