Yearly Archives: 2015 ...
Doing Business in Philippines
UHY strengthens presence in the Caribbean...55545554
We welcome Canahuate Calderon & Asociados, a new additional member firm in the Dominican Republic, to the global accountancy network UHY, extending our coverage within the Caribbean.
Canahuate Calderon & Asociados formed in 2009 brings together over 30 years of experience and is based in the city of Santo Domingo. With a team of 20, including 3 partners, the firm provides audit, tax consulting, accounting and pay-roll and services to a portfolio of local and international clients primarily in the retail & consumer, agricultural, pharmaceutical and insurance sectors.
Managing partner of Canahuate Calderon & Asociados, Arabellis Calderón says: “We have joined the UHY network for a number of reasons. Our main priority is to service better our current local and international client base. The global presence of the network combined with the expertise and knowledge of UHY’s 7,660 people around the world not only strengthens our own capabilities, locally and internationally, but also these of our current and potential clients and their operations. We also hope our local expertise and the UHY network’s collaboration will help us to attract international clients wishing to invest in the Dominican Republic.”
Bernard Fay, chairman of UHY comments: “We are delighted Canahuate Calderon & Asociados has joined the UHY network extending our coverage and capabilities in the Caribbean. For the past two decades, the Dominican Republic has been one of the fastest growing economies in the Latin America and Caribbean region. More recent diversification and reforms to facilitate the easy of doing business help to maintain its competitiveness in the region and beyond. Canahuate Calderon & Asociados’ admittance to the UHY network will further strengthen UHY’s regional market expertise, bringing additional presence and capabilities to our Caribbean region footprint.”
The firm is in the process of adopting the UHY branding and will be known as UHY Canahuate Calderon & Asociados.
Liaison office for UHY Canahuate Calderon & Asociados
Contact: Managing partner, Arabellis Calderón on +809-567-5916
UHY press contact:
Dominique Maeremans, marketing & business development manager
Tel: +44 20 7767 2621
Chinese lead global growth in new start-ups but economic slowdown threatens business creation...55345534
Number of new Chinese businesses nearly doubled since 2010
UK leads Western Economies in growth in new start-ups
New business creation in China is outpacing the rest of the world despite its economic slowdown, with the number of new businesses created last year nearly doubling (up by 98%) compared to 2010, shows a new study by UHY, the international accounting and consultancy network.
The research revealed that the number of new companies created in China in 2014 was nearly double the number created in 2010, increasing from 811,100 to 1,609,700 per year.
According to UHY, new business creation is accelerating more quickly in the UK than in any of its Western rivals, with the number of newly established businesses in the UK increasing from 385,741 to 581,173 per year.
Third in the study was India, which saw a 46% increase in the number of start-ups. The BRIC economies averaged a 42% increase in the number of new businesses created over the same period.
UHY’s study shows that the Western European economies tended to see a bigger increase in the number of new business ‘births’ compared to other developed economies. The UK, Italy, Germany, and France had increases in the number of new businesses higher than the G7 average of 31%. By contrast the increase in new business creation over the period was 11% in the USA, 7% in Japan and 4% in Canada. Australia also beat the G7 average, with a 41% increase in the number of new businesses created.
UHY explains that the severity of the financial crisis and recession in many European countries prompted governments to take significant steps to encourage business creation. Common measures included changes designed to reduce the amount of tax due from start-ups and small companies, and to simplify the bureaucratic burden.
For example, Italy has significantly simplified the procedure for establishing new companies, so that it is now possible to establish a company with one euro of share capital. In Spain, steps have been taken to simplify the tax system and improve the online system for tax returns, reducing the administrative burden on small businesses. The reduction of the corporate income tax rate for new companies has also encouraged investment in businesses in Spain.
Many countries have also experienced an explosion of alternative finance providers, which has helped improve start-ups’ access to finance. It is estimated that non-bank funding now accounts for 30% of finance provided to companies across Europe.* An estimated Euros 3 billion of European non-bank funding now takes the form of peer-to-peer lending, crowd-funding and other new models.
UHY points out that to sustain growth in the number of new businesses being created, as well as to manage the global impact of the slow-down in the Chinese economy, governments cannot afford to slow the introduction of more business-friendly policies.
Comments Bernard Fay, Chairman of UHY, and one of the managing partners at UHY Fay & Co, UHY’s Spanish member firm: “Businesses in many European countries have now bounced back from what were enormously difficult economic conditions.”
“The next few years are not going to be without their own challenges, and governments globally need to find ways to help these new start-ups to grow into successful businesses and even the next generation of multi-nationals.”
“In many European economies there is still a long way to go in cutting down on bureaucracy, and in Spain, for example there is a need to look at peculiarities in the tax system that can leave many mid-sized companies paying higher marginal tax rates than their bigger rivals.”
“It is a similar situation in many South American countries. New businesses in Brazil, for instance, face a complex web of labour and tax laws but the government is now trying to encourage new business creation by offering SMEs substantially lower tax rates. In addition, the Brazilian government has been working – since 2011 – to make sure that they have official record of all small businesses and self-employed professionals, especially those that didn’t previously have a taxpayer record.”
“Alternative finance has been a major bonus to start-ups. As it grows in importance and profile, regulators face the significant question of how to find a balance in their regulatory approach to the sector that gives confidence to potential investors, but does not stifle innovation.”
Adds Michael Coughtrey, Managing Partner of UHY Haines Norton Sydney, UHY’s Australian member firm: “Registering a new business in Australia is quick and relatively inexpensive, and the government has introduced some welcome changes to support businesses once they start to create jobs and become profitable.”
“For example, in recent years we have seen the income tax rate for qualifying small businesses drop by 1.5%, and more generous rules for writing asset depreciation off against tax, as well as significant tax concessions for employee share schemes in start-up companies.”
“However, Australia has dropped out of the top 10 in the World Bank’s ‘Ease of Doing Business’ survey. With our economy bound to be affected by the slow-down of China, to remain competitive we need to continue to focus on making life easier for entrepreneurs and investors.”
*AFME (Association for Financial Markets in Europe)
**2013, the latest figures available
***2012, the latest figures available
Notes for Editors
Tel: +44 20 7767 2621, or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
NEW CHAIRMAN FOR UHY
UHY, the international accounting and consultancy network, has elected Bernard Fay as the new chairman of UHY, following 17 years as a UHY Board Director. With Bernard’s election, the UHY network will be led for the first time by a Director from outside its founding countries, the USA and UK, reflecting the increasingly international mix of the work undertaken by member firms.
Bernard is one of the managing and founding partners at UHY Fay & Co, UHY’s Spanish member firm. Trilingual in French, Spanish and English, and educated in several European countries including the UK, Bernard has extensive experience of leading multicultural and international projects. He developed, and leads, his firm’s team which specialises in helping businesses to expand internationally.
Bernard comments; “From a small group of forward thinking executives spanning the Atlantic, UHY has grown into a substantial, truly global network, delivering quality international accounting and business advisory services to ambitious midmarket SMEs and entrepreneurs, and to larger companies looking for a refreshing alternative to the Big Four.”
A key priority for Bernard will be to build on UHY’s global presence, driving its growth strategy over the next few years. UHY will be celebrating 30 years as an international network in 2016.
“Our strategy for the next five years focuses on growth, geographical presence and the creative expansion of our brand so that we can continue to meet our clients’ needs globally.” says Bernard. “It is indeed a very competitive marketplace but a spirit of collaboration, cohesion and trust sets us apart from our competitors when choosing UHY as a partner for international projects and transactions. We care about people and our clients make the informed and positive choice to work with us.”
“We will measure the success of our network not in terms of sheer growth alone but by whether our clients value the innovative, demanding and rewarding work our people are able to deliver.
“I am looking forward to working together with our clients, our member firms and the UHY Board as we shape our future and embrace the new opportunities created by technology and globalisation, as well as the challenges presented by the requirements of regulators and a rapidly evolving marketplace.”
Bernard takes over as Chairman from Ladislav Hornan, managing partner at UHY Hacker Young, London, the UK based founding member firm of the UHY network. Ladislav will remain on the UHY Board of Directors.
UHY press contact: Dominique Maeremans
on +44 20 7767 2621
Base Erosion Profit Shifting – BEPS
As the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the G20 bring the anti-BEPS action plan to fruition, questions remain. The rationale is clear: the world economy has been characterised by a shift from country-specific businesses to global enterprises operating both over the internet and at locations remote from where their physical customers are buying goods and services. This has presented opportunities for complex profit repatriation structures – reducing the tax burden in other words – and has fuelled concerns of unfair and unethical practice.
BEPS refers specifically to tax planning strategies that exploit gaps and mismatches in tax rules to artificially shift profits to low or no-tax locations where there is little or no economic activity. This practice is of particular significance for developing countries due to their heavy reliance on corporate income tax, particularly from multinational enterprises. So a set of measures designed to enable governments to close the loopholes seems to be a desirable outcome.
However, the anti-BEPS measures delivered by the OECD project with the goal of creating international standards for appropriate tax distribution, are already in danger of being undermined by unilateral and potentially conflicting tax laws passed in haste for political or other reasons.
In the UK, the government, while supporting the BEPS project, has chosen to implement what is being called a ’Google Tax’, a 25% diverted profits levy on sales generated in the UK but accounted for elsewhere. Some observers accused the UK government of political expediency and points-scoring ahead of the 2015 general election. There has been significant public opposition to corporations like Google, Amazon and Starbucks who were perceived to be tax avoiders. Lobbyists, anti- austerity and anti-capitalist protestors demanded a response. Other European and non-European jurisdictions are considering similar implementations.
The BEPS project is in itself a sizeable undertaking, but some believe that a wider effort is required to increase corporate transparency and reduce non-compliance with tax laws. In June 2015, the European Commission (EC) presented its own action plan (including initiatives to tackle tax avoidance).
The EC says its plan will fundamentally reform corporate taxation in the EU, prompting the observation from OECD secretary-general Angel Gurria that “a globalised economy needs single global standards”. Clearly those single standards will not be easy to find.
Christian Kaeser, chair of the commission on taxation at the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) says countries should wait and act in accordance with the outcome of the BEPS project. By doing so, they will not disrupt the OECD’s aim to design one common approach and they will not create new conflicting international tax rules. “This also reflects the reality that the OECD is reluctant to address: the underlying concern that countries create their own regimes to attract economic activity (in other words, base erode other countries) which multinationals then utilise in their structuring,” he says. The ICC anticipates that some multinationals will restructure as countries move towards implementation of the BEPS measures.
Joe Harpaz, head of the Onesource corporate market for the tax and accounting business at Thomson Reuters, believes that many multinationals have work to do before they would be in a position to change the way they account for revenue. “Many multinationals are only now waking up to this even being an issue,” he says. “They will face difficult decisions and hard management choices.” Many will consider whether the cost of defending existing structures from a BEPS-based challenge will negate the tax benefit.
One giant which has made the change is Amazon, much vilified in the UK and elsewhere for what was seen as large scale tax avoidance. Amazon opened a London office within its Luxembourg headquarters, specifically to account for UK sales and to pay UK tax and will do the same for other European jurisdictions. Cynics suggest this was a move to pre-empt the 25% ’Google Tax’ but the real motive may be more complex, since Amazon faces other tax and location pressures unique to its business. The local 3% value-added tax (VAT) on sales of e-books which made Luxembourg an attractive home base, was raised in May 2015 to 17%.
TRANSPARENCY AND ENFORCEMENT
According to Joe Harpaz, what makes BEPS so interesting is that it is simultaneously global in scope and localised from an enforcement perspective. “While the OECD does have a clear-cut agenda to close loopholes in the global web of over 3000 bilateral tax treaties, actual enforcement of these guidelines will be left up to individual countries. The US has voiced concerns about the amount of detail US companies would need to report to foreign authorities under BEPS, so while there is broad, general support for the idea of transparency, the devil will be in the detail.”
Bas Pijnaker, tax partner, Govers Accountants/Consultants, Netherlands, agrees that the US is under some pressure from the project. “As it stands, profits that are not remitted into the US are not taxed there but once remitted they will be taxed. The problem for the US is that if multinationals such as Google or Apple pay tax in other countries, the US gets less when the profits are remitted to the US, which explains why it has been reluctant to throw its full weight behind BEPS.”
Jonathan Schwarz, barrister at Temple Tax Chambers in London who focuses on international tax disputes as counsel and advises on solving cross-border tax problems, agrees that the potential for double taxation will be increased as a result. “The combination of many more permanent establishments with companies away from home countries, together with heightened attention to transfer pricing worldwide, will provoke more conflict between tax authorities seeking to tax international profits,” he says. “Companies will need to be well prepared.”
Clive Gawthorpe, partner, UHY Hacker Young, Manchester, UK, and chair of UHY’s tax special interest group believes that a fundamental problem that will determine the success or otherwise of the OECD’s efforts is access to information.
“Country by country reporting is key to determining exactly where profits are made,” he says. “The next step is challenging transfer pricing calculations and for me this is the biggest issue.”
The Tax Justice Network conducts high-level research, analysis and advocacy on international tax, the role of tax in society and the impacts of tax evasion, tax avoidance and tax havens. Access to information is precisely their concern too. Senior analyst Markus Meinzer says, “Action 11 of the BEPS plan requires the establishment of methodologies to collect and analyse data on BEPS – and the actions to address it – but there is insufficient data available to understand the economic consequences of base erosion and profit shifting. Country by country reporting will not be made available for researchers or the public.”
Another significant factor in the BEPS debate is the support the measures may provide for emerging nations. From the outset there was a fear that the more comfortably off member countries of the OECD would be the primary beneficiaries while developing countries would struggle to achieve the equality of tax revenue distribution they are entitled to. The OECD has engaged extensively with over 80 developing and non-OECD/non-G20 countries and claims that their needs and differences have been integrated into the measures. However, not everyone is convinced.
Global Financial Integrity (GFI) is a not-for- profit research and advocacy organisation located in Washington D.C. in the US. Liz Confalone, policy counsel at GFI, is concerned that the smallest countries, which have the most to gain, have the least influence on the project. “We need to make sure the system also works for all developing countries,” she says.
Some observers have asked whether it is ethical to shift profits made in emerging economies to low tax jurisdictions in Europe, so potentially depriving poorer countries of much needed revenues.
Liz argues that the real question is should it be legal? “Recent coverage regarding the tax dodging of multinationals makes it abundantly clear to us, as well as the public, that the answer to that question is no. Companies engaging in profit shifting pay less tax and so their cost of doing business is less. This distorts markets, creates an uneven playing field and, ultimately, suppresses economic growth, especially in low income countries.”
Markus Meinzer, from the Tax Justice Network, says, “It is neither ethical nor legitimate to shift profits from any country where a multinational operates, especially after taking advantage of its customers, natural resources, human resources and infrastructure. If this depriving of revenues affects developing countries which need them the most, it is economic colonialism in the 21st century.”
THE CHALLENGE REMAINS
Perhaps the last word should go to Clive Gawthorpe at UHY, who takes a pragmatic view of the difficulties posed for emerging nations under the OECD plan. “Politicians have used the ethical argument to gain public support for the BEPS project. However, many developing nations lack the human resources to interpret the data and challenge transfer pricing calculations – and some of these countries don’t even tax profits this way as they use a withholding tax method. There will be more permanent establishments in emerging economies which should lead to more tax being due locally, but the challenge of collecting this tax remains.”
Contact: Clive Gawthorpe, UHY Hacker Young LLP, Manchester, UK and chair of UHY’s global tax special interest group. email@example.com
For more information about UHY’s tax capabilities email the UHY executive office firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.uhy.com/services
Dominique Maeremans, business development/marketing manager
Tel: +44 20 7767 2621
The challenges of internationalisation
There are many sound commercial reasons for small to medium sized enterprises to expand beyond their home market. European Commission director general for internal market, industry, entrepreneurship and SMEs, Istvan Nemeth, says that being internationally active links with higher turnover and employment growth, and there is a relationship between internationalisation and innovation.
To find out how companies successfully manage elements of internationalisation such as human resources, business culture, finance and logistics, we asked specialists for their views.
Hiring local talent who can create the right brand and culture is important, as is understanding cultural diversity, says Kate Chapman, group HR director at recruitment firm PageGroup. “It is vital when exporting talent that they have a good understanding of the cultural nuances they will encounter.”
Kate says that for people moving abroad on an international assignment, it is not always about the money. “Expats may take advantage of lower tax rates but people relish the opportunity to experience life in a different culture,” she says. “Once many of our people move abroad they rarely go back to their host country, making multiple moves with us throughout their careers.”
Knowledge that prepares a business for new territory must be part of the decision to enter that market. But cultural research tends to be too general, stereotypical and out of date and may encourage a formulaic response to highly nuanced situations that can narrow the focus of leaders to that of following a process rather than ‘heads up’ flexibility and awareness.
That is the view of Malcolm Nicholson, coaching director at Aspecture and the UK representative for the Centre for International Business Coaching. He says businesses expanding internationally should be helping leaders to understand and develop their ability to juggle conflicting forces. “We are learning to work with more memberships of groups and feel part of them. Helping leaders integrate into new multicultural social and work environments is essential, at both personal performance and business levels.”
An inevitable by-product of having people in close proximity is some form of conflict, he says. “This is generally handled according to the law of the land, the culture of the
organisation and the manager’s discretion. Add regional culture to the mix and accepted norms vary significantly.”
MAKING MONEY COUNT
Finding a bank that offers services in multiple countries or regions can be a challenge for companies with revenues in the millions rather than billions, explains Bob Lyddon, general secretary of the International Banking Association. “There is a trend for banks to focus on doing business just in their ‘home’ market, which has thinned out the competition in international banking. Anti- money laundering and ‘know your customer’ requirements mean domestic banks are starting to shun foreign customers because of the difficulty of fulfilling requirements around identifying ultimate beneficial owners.”
If the applicant is a non-resident, someone at the bank has to examine papers issued in a foreign jurisdiction and attest that they prove the existence of the applicant and the bona fides of directors, signatories and owners. “The same applies where the applicant is a resident but with foreign ownership,” says Bob. “The result, if not a rejection, is an onerous process. It is much easier when the customer’s own bank has strong relationships with foreign banks, with agreed standards for responsiveness, timing and paperwork.”
Bob says the most important requirement for aspiring international business is access to people who can explain clearly the market practices in foreign jurisdictions and the most appropriate local payment and collection services.
KEEPING IT MOVING
According to Mark Parsons, chief customer officer UK & Ireland for DHL supply chain, three trends characterise the challenges and opportunities in emerging markets: regionalised supply chains, shortening product life cycles and shifting demographics.
Rapidly changing consumer behaviour, coupled with the variables of infrastructure, culture, regulatory and political regimes and economic development, make unpredictability the norm. Factor in limited talent pools, fragmented distribution systems and security concerns and the unknown variables grow.
“As one global networking products supplier put it, we are in markets now where we are not going to get the density and leverage to build economies of scale for five to ten years,” says Mark. “This is a problem for a lot of US and European companies that are used to having projects with a two-year payback.”
His colleague, head of DHL resilience team, Tobias Larsson, says corporate supply chain organisations are often siloed, operate on a regional basis and are disconnected among regions and even sites. “They lack visibility and control beyond their part of the operation. That may work day to day, but in crisis, it can be a problem.”
Companies with international ambitions must also take account of factors like currency volatility. Borrowing in local currency and managing working capital effectively can help reduce the impact of currency fluctuations. However, the increased currency risk when operating in emerging markets brings with it the need for clear, complete information about any risk being created.
Political instability is a consideration in many parts of the world. Poor governance, extreme levels of corruption and civil unrest are among the challenges facing international business operations in emerging markets, says Charlotte Ingham, principal political risk analyst at global risk analytics company Verisk Maplecroft.
Corruption not only undermines overall governance levels, but also serves as a key source of popular dissatisfaction. With nearly 70% of countries rated as ‘extreme’ or ‘high risk’ in Verisk Maplecroft’s corruption risk index and 41% similarly rated in the civil unrest index, widespread discontent is likely to remain a significant feature of the global political risk environment in the short term.
Exporters are also advised to protect themselves against late and non- payment. Because overseas customers will take longer to receive their goods than customers in a domestic market longer payment terms are inevitable. Exporters concerned about cashflow should consider asking suppliers for longer terms. For those worried about an overseas customer refusing to pay, credit insurance may be an option. Clearly defined contractual obligations are essential – exporters have to consider factors such as the currency of the contract and obligations in respect of transportation of goods. Contracts should use internationally recognised terms as laid down by the International Chamber of Commerce.
The rewards of internationalisation can be high but as with all new business, carry risk and opportunity. The only way to mitigate risk is to build process and awareness into every stage.
Dominique Maeremans, business development/marketing manager
Tel: +44 20 7767 2621
What’s happening in the automotive sector and supply chain
The first automobile was arguably Nicolas-Joseph Cugnot’s self-propelled steam powered tricycle, built in 1769. Or perhaps it was Karl Benz’s petrol-powered automobile in 1886. But there is no doubt that it was Henry Ford who brought cars to the masses with Tin Lizzie, the Ford Model T in 1908. Since then the rise of vehicle ownership has hardly abated.
Despite the more recent pain of global recession, vehicle purchases in North America in 2015 have jumped to their highest level in more than a decade and surveys are suggesting that annualised volumes are set to climb further – above 17 million units – the highest level since 2001. Similar activity can be observed in most global markets with sales trending higher. Only double digit fall-offs in Russia and Brazil mid-2015 have slowed an otherwise buoyant global sector.
Whether this is set to last or not is debatable – Citi Research estimates that the global automotive market may only experience something like 4% compound annual growth to 2020 – but analysts agree that some of the industry’s most important new applications and products, such as advanced driving assistance systems or lightweight carbon fibre materials could grow at upwards of 20% a year (see Plasan case study on page 11).
Automotive was one of the first truly global industries, so those in the supply chain are accustomed to following manufacturers as they continue to grow global footprints. Suppliers also have to ensure compliance with new and increasingly demanding standards and regulations while at the same time meeting demand from manufacturers and their customers for cheaper, more efficient components and modules.
In Europe alone, around five million people are directly and indirectly employed in the automotive supply chain, and suppliers are playing a leading role in motor industry research and innovation. Paul Schockmel, CEO of the European Association of Automotive Suppliers, says, “Some EUR 38 billion are invested in the European automotive industry each year, of which more than half comes from suppliers, and this trend is increasing.”
COST AND CONSOLIDATION
But despite its strategic, commercial and logistical importance, the supply chain is under pressure. “A number of cost-cutting programmes have been initiated by OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) and as a result, the supply chain is under constant cost pressure,” says Paul Schockmel. “At the same time, advances in technology such as hybrid vehicles – powered by a combination
of electric and internal combustion engines – and autonomous or self-driving vehicles, are creating opportunities and challenges of their own.” The drive from consumers for better, cleaner, cheaper vehicles is pushing cost pressure throughout the supply chain.
As a result, the automotive supply chain is restructuring to adapt to these changes and the consolidation evident in the sector now is expected to continue and even accelerate. Larger suppliers are better placed to face increasingly complex technology requirements – the level of investment required is extremely demanding for smaller suppliers. Vehicle manufacturer business volumes are increasingly concentrated within the top 100 Tier 1 suppliers.
A striking example of this is VDL Nedcar, who independently manufacture Minis on behalf of BMW. Paul Mencke is liaison partner at Govers Accountants/ Consultants, UHY’s member firm in the Netherlands, and participates in UHY’s Automotive special interest group. Paul says, “The automotive industry is known for its early adoption of new approaches, in technology as well as in logistics and costs. Cooperation is complex, the stakes and standards are high and commitments cover long periods of time.”
Strategic partnerships are becoming increasingly important, particularly in specialist areas such as vehicle connectivity where the technology evolves so rapidly. OEMs direct their supply chain through value sourcing programmes that focus on key performance indicators like quality, logistics, technology and costs.
LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION
As manufacturing intensity increases, fuelled by innovation, technology and consumer demand, vehicle manufacturers want more than ever to see their Tier 1 suppliers operating locally. Ideally, automobile companies want their suppliers to operate in every jurisdiction in which they have a manufacturing presence. For suppliers the decision to move closer is not so straightforward, despite there often being government or local agency incentives to do so, such as tax breaks or financial support for R&D activity.
Suppliers must carefully evaluate the business case for each location and all that it might entail – financing, workforce relocation or recruitment, the rules and regulations of a new jurisdiction, maintaining client production output quotas and quality, optimising production lines during transition, closing down one facility and ramping up the other, and so on. Not least, this will have an impact downstream too, on the supplier’s supply chain.
Paul Schockmel says, “Effective financial planning is essential for suppliers establishing operations in new locations. However, they cannot be expected to have a complete understanding of the business environment in every jurisdiction, which is where accounting and consulting firms have an important role to play.”
Thomas Alongi is a partner at UHY LLP in the US, and head of the global automotive special interest group at UHY. “The extent to which OEMs are directing their suppliers to ‘build where we sell’ is one of the key issues facing automotive equipment suppliers,” he says. ”This drive to be a global supplier creates a considerable amount of pressure and has contributed to significant consolidation of the supply base. OEMs will continue to shrink their key supply base to mitigate risk into the forseeable future.”
But manufacturing around the world is difficult for smaller suppliers who do not have the capital to expand into global markets, so selling to larger strategic suppliers or private equity is a growing option. Tom says, “Strategic buyers are continuing to expand their global presence through acquisition. UHY LLP’s corporate finance team is currently working with a number of clients who are in a sale process with larger strategic and private equity buyers. A full service firm can not only maximise the sale price, but also make sure that the shareholders obtain the highest after tax proceeds, which really matters the most to them.”
In a strategic advisory capacity, Tom undertakes assessments of the automotive supply base to determine how businesses can adapt to industry changes like these. Some viable options may include:
- Securing finance to fund expansion
- Helping to devise innovative joint venture agreements
- Execute a sale mandate to accelerate growth
- Implementing operational improvement accountability systems
- Understanding what the true costs of a programme are, as well as the return on investment.
A consolidated supply chain with decreasing diversity comes at a cost. According to the 2015 Allianz Risk Barometer, insurers are beginning to see the potential for sizeable claims in the automotive sector, with the supply chain identified as the top business risk. These fears are fuelled by recent events such as the defect in airbag inflators manufactured by Takata Corporation which has affected around 34 million vehicles – the largest recall in automotive history.
“These are the high costs companies have to pay if there are supply chain failures,” says Tom. “The complexity of a global chain poses huge risks, as this recall clearly shows. Procurement teams must trace all the affected products and address quality control.” Similar problems are likely to repeat if manufacturers continue to use long and complex supply chains and short development cycles. But it is not just a quality control issue.
A survey published in the UK in March 2015 by business standards company BSI and the Business Continuity Institute found that 53% of automotive supply chains were exposed to elevated, high or severe risk of natural disaster. Indeed, the sector suffered heavily from the 2011 Japanese tsunami because of a global reliance on a single manufacturer of a particular pigment essential for metallic paint finishes. As a result of the disruption, production in the factory was halted for three months before normal operations resumed, causing long lasting effects across the automotive marketplace.
Another area of concern for supply chain management is the availability of skilled labour. With the average age of those employed in the automotive supply industry worldwide at around 50 years old, at a time when new technologies and new processes are driving manufacturing and product development, keeping skills current and attracting new talent into the sector is a challenge.
Thomas Alongi says, ”Shifts in technology have implications for suppliers. The trend for fewer vehicle components and more technology has been ongoing for a number of years. We are also seeing an increased use of lightweight materials such as carbon fibre and aluminium which have had an effect on the production process and the skills needed to produce components. All this puts pressure on the need for an increasing qualified technical workforce.”
”What we are seeing with some of the major OEMs is reducing the product cycle, so whereas each model might previously have been on the market for between five and seven years, there might now be a major redesign every three to four years,” says Tom. Keeping supply chain clients informed of developments like these that affect their business is part of his remit. “It’s essential that they can determine how to react to changes in vehicle volumes and product lifecycles,” he says.
The industry has come a long way since Henry Ford made the automobile affordable, but it was one of the first truly global industries and continues to be so today. Competition between countries to design and manufacture better, cleaner, cheaper vehicles to serve existing and emerging markets is as fierce as ever, while technological advances are now propelling the industry into new domains of product and production. Supply chains are keeping pace with the change, albeit with significant challenges along the way, and the future looks set to be a bumpy ride for some time to come.
Tom is also head of UHY’s global automotive special interest group. Contact: Tom Alongi, UHY LLP Sterling Heights, Michigan, US email@example.com
For more information about UHY’s automotive sector capabilities email the UHY executive office firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.uhy.com/services
Dominique Maeremans, business development/marketing manager
Tel: +44 20 7767 2621
Issue 1 – October 2015
- Base Erosion Profit Shifting – BEPS
- The challenges of internationalization
- What’s happening in the automotive sector and supply chain.
Betex Pack S.L.
Betex Pack is a Spanish company founded in 1992 as a packaging distributor and consulting company for the food industry. UHY Fay & Co, Spain now supports Betex Pack with all their accountancy and social security issues. They also provided annual advice about customs issues and internationalisation.