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Kimberly-Clark focused on its cash conversion cycle with the goal of reducing it by two to three days. The cross-functional, cross-regional project worked so well that the company actually cut the time by 15 days, says Jun Wang, assistant treasurer for global liquidity. That translated into a $900 million reduction in working capital for 2009 and contributed to an overall improvement in return on invested capital of 160 basis points. The $900 million was used to pay down debt, increase the pension contribution, and invest in business and acquisition opportunities.

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