BusinessCompany NewsCFO wins plaudits as boss rides out ‘fat-cat’ storm

CFO wins plaudits as boss rides out 'fat-cat' storm

Amid speculation of a takeover bid for condom-maker SSL International and controversy over fat-cat pay, Reckitt Benckiser's chief financial officer Colin Day is busy preparing the FTSE-100 company's interim figures.

The household cleaning products-maker based in Slough has denied rumours it made an offer for SSL, which was hit by accounting scandals two years ago over a £50m stock error and is under investigation by the Serious Fraud Office.

Reckitt’s Dutch CEO Bart Becht refused to answer questions on the rumoured acquisition saying he ‘would not comment on speculation’.

But Becht himself is a controversial figure as his £5.1m pay deal makes him one of the best-paid CEOs in Europe. To add to this, Becht has a golden parachute that will allow him to receive a lump sum of 1.5 times his salary and double his bonus should he be fired or the company be taken over.

But despite the press reports and discouraging sales in North America, financial director Day continues to inspire confidence in investors.

The ACCA fellow, who has an MBA, was voted one of Europe’s top-performing CFOs in a survey of investors and analysts for Institutional Investor magazine. The survey’s respondents said Day had a ‘rigorously disciplined approach to the financial demands made by investors in today’s uneasy markets’ and showed ‘commendable skill’ in communicating the company’s strategies to investors. One of Day’s main worries is that the burden of corporate governance designed to inspire confidence among investors, will become too dependent on ‘box ticking’. ‘It starts to distract from what board discussions should be focusing on – strategy and the development of the business,’ he has said.

The survey commends Day for helping boost company profits by building a substantial negative work capital. By continually seeking better terms on payables and receivables, he has reduced the working capital by £67m.

Day commented: ‘A strong balance sheet is a balance sheet that generates cash. It should tell the investor we are doing something right.’

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