New CFO focused on high return and new accounting rules
"Congratulations on your new job as chief financial officer!"
"Thank you. Im very excited. Swedish Match has made fantastic progress since the exchange listing in 1996. The company has proven to be very successful in creating value for shareholders. The companys successful strategy remains firm, and I am taking on a very exciting and interesting job."
"You have been working at Swedish Match since 1996. Tell us a little bit about your career with the company."
"Before I started working at Swedish Match, I was a stock market analyst at an international bank. At Swedish Match, I began working with Group accounting. Putting the theory I had learned at the Stockholm School of Economics into practice was a valuable experience. My first international assignment was as finance manager at the lighter factory in the Philippines. It was a period during which I learned a great deal about how to run a business in a culture that is very different from Swedish society. Working in lighter operations was also very valuable, since you really learn about cost controls all along the chain from production to the market.
After the Philippines, I spent an interesting period at Vasatek in London. That job placed me at the centre of the Groups strategic development toward smokeless products. From there, I returned to the head office to work directly under Group management with analyses, company acquisitions and divestments."
"What are your priorities in your new position?"
"My first priority is to ensure that Swedish Match can continue to generate a high return for our owners. At the same time, we will have to meet new demands in our accounting. Because Swedish Match is also listed on the US NASDAQ exchange, we need to build up a system for internal controls according to the regulations in the new Sarbanes Oxley Act in the US. This is a very substantial undertaking in which we will have to document all the processes underlying the figures presented in our final accounts and ensure that the necessary controls are in place and operate as they should.
Another task facing us is that Swedish Match like other Swedish exchange listed companies must make a transition to the new international accounting principles IFRS as of January 1, 2005. This is part of an international harmonization, and the same rules will apply for all exchange-listed companies in the EU. One objective is also that the new rules should be more similar to those applied in the US, thus facilitating comparisons in an international perspective. For Swedish Match, this will primarily mean changing the way we report pension costs, goodwill amortization, options programs, financial instruments and biological assets. The latter refers to our poplar plantations, which are intended to ensure a reliable supply of raw materials for match manufacturing in certain markets.
The transition to IFRS will entail considerable work for all economists in the Group. The change will mean that all subsidiaries must prepare reports in accordance with IFRS, rather than Swedish accounting principles as previously.
Many figures must therefore be recalculated according to the new principles as early as this year, so we are already busy making preparations. When we publish interim reports and the year-end report next year, comparison figures must be published for this year in accordance with the new principles.
It is also our ambition to further enhance the contribution of finance to the companys business. By being able to quickly produce accurate and appropriate financial analyses, we can contribute to sound and profitable growth in all business areas."
"What Swedish Match products do you use?"
"I use General portion snus. Occasionally I also enjoy a cigar. At home, we use many match products. We have a utility lighter for our grill, and when the autumn comes, we also use many fire logs in our fireplace."