By Sten Stovall and Simon Zekaria
Of DOW JONES NEWSWIRES
LONDON -(Dow Jones)- German consumer goods and glues giant Henkel (HEN.XE) believes the euro will survive and is not funneling cash back to Germany from banks in euro-zone countries to reduce exposure to risks of a possible breakdown of the European monetary system.
That view contrasts with that of GlaxoSmithKline PLC (GSK) and other companies that currently sweep the cash raised during the day out of the local banks and send it safely to banks based at home.
"In 2008 and 2009, Henkel did the same cash pooling but we don't do it today," Henkel Chief Executive Officer Kasper Rorsted told Dow Jones Newswires. "We have a very conservative way of managing our cash, but we don't take all the money back to Germany today."
He says the euro will prove itself a viable currency.
"We don't believe that the world is about to break up in that context. That said, we are very careful in certain countries -- we don't overexpose ourselves and that's how we manage it," he said.
A Dane and the first non-German to run the 135-year old German company, Rorsted said that Henkel doesn't speculate on currency markets but rather relies on its geographical footprint to smooth out foreign exchange volatility.
"Sometimes you get gains and sometimes head-winds. In the first quarter of this year, we had a gain in currency, and we place our operations geographically to achieve that."
"Today, we have 41% of our revenue and 54% of our headcount in the emerging markets. So we've moved a lot of our head count -- and headcount translates into manufacturing capacity to emerging markets where we have a very large customer base," said Rorsted, who has been running the German company for the past four years.
He noted that by year-end, the maker of products including Persil laundry detergent, Schwarzkopf hair products and Loctite glues will have opened the world's largest adhesives plant in Shanghai, China. "So we've proactively moved ahead of our revenue stream into emerging markets."
"You have to be very realistic. If the break up of the euro zone were to come tomorrow, you would have ten to twenty years of recession in Europe. If the result is only that Greece goes out of the euro, then it will only cause a 'bump' in the road. I think that the Euro is a resilient model," he said.
Rorsted says the euro zone clearly faces danger and certain members of the euro are at risk of exiting, but policy changes will preserve the single currency.
"I think you can't manage the euro the way it's being done now -- I think you need to have much more fiscal discipline. I think this is being imposed now and that you'll for a very long time see a low growth rate in Europe and over time you might see some states leaving the euro, but I think Greece's contribution in the crisis has been over stated and over exposed in the conversation."
He urged politicians to focus on the problems facing the rest of the eurozone, not just Greece.
"You do have a dangerous threat regarding growth in the European economy which needs to be dealt with, but that will be necessary one way or another any way as the problem won't go away if you go from the euro to the franc or to the Deutschmark. The unemployment won't go away, and that's more the core issue."
"We're very cautious about Greece - it's 0.5% of our revenues -- so it would be a marginal dent for Henkel if Greece were to go bankrupt. But I don't view a break up of the euro as a real threat," he added.
-By Sten Stovall, Dow Jones Newswires; +44 207 842 9292; firstname.lastname@example.org
(Simon Zekaria contributed to this article.)
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
May 09, 2012 11:44 ET (15:44 GMT)
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