The Group’s credit concentration risk differs in relation to the activities carried out by the individual segments and various sales markets in which the Group operates; in all cases, however, the risk is mitigated by the large number of counterparties and customers. Considered from a global point of view, however, there is a concentration of credit risk in trade receivables and receivables from financing activities, in particular dealer financing and finance leases in the European Union market and in North America, as well as in Latin America for the main segments.
Financial assets are recognized in the statement of financial position net of write-downs for the risk that counterparties may be unable to fulfill their contractual obligations, determined on the basis of the available information as to the creditworthiness of the customer and historical data.
The Group is exposed to funding risk if there is difficulty in obtaining finance for operations at any given point in time.
The cash flows, funding requirements and liquidity of Group companies are monitored on a centralized basis, under the control of the Group Treasury. The aim of this centralized system is to optimize the efficiency and effectiveness of the management of the Group’s capital resources.
Additionally, as part of its activities the Group regularly carries out funding operations on the various financial markets which may take on different technical forms and which are aimed at ensuring that it has an adequate level of current and future liquidity.
The continuation of a diffi cult economic situation in the markets in which the Group operates and the uncertainties that characterize the fi nancial markets necessitate giving special attention to the management of liquidity risk. In that sense measures taken to generate fi nancial resources through operations and to maintain an adequate level of available liquidity are an important factor in ensuring normal operating conditions and addressing strategic challenges over the next few years. The Group therefore plans to meet its requirements to settle liabilities as they fall due and to cover expected capital expenditures by using cash fl ows from operations and available liquidity, renewing or refi nancing bank loans and making recourse to the bond market and other forms of funding.
Interest rate risk and currency risk
As a multinational group that has operations throughout the world, the Group is exposed to market risks from fl uctuations in foreign currency exchange and interest rates.
The exposure to foreign currency risk arises both in connection with the geographical distribution of the Group’s industrial activities compared to the markets in which it sells its products, and in relation to the use of external borrowing denominated in foreign currencies.
The exposure to interest rate risk arises from the need to fund industrial and financial operating activities and the necessity to deploy surplus funds. Changes in market interest rates may have the effect of either increasing or decreasing the Group’s net profit/(loss), thereby indirectly affecting the costs and returns of fi nancing and investing transactions.
The Group regularly assesses its exposure to interest rate and foreign currency risk and manages those risks through the use of derivative financial instruments in accordance with its established risk management policies.
The Group’s policy permits derivatives to be used only for managing the exposure to fl uctuations in exchange and interest rates connected with future cash flows and assets and liabilities, and not for speculative purposes.
The Group utilizes derivative financial instruments designated as fair value hedges, mainly to hedge:
- the currency risk on financial instruments denominated in foreign currency;
- the interest rate risk on fi xed rate loans and borrowings.
The instruments used for these hedges are mainly currency swaps, forward contracts, interest rate swaps and combined interest rate and currency financial instruments.
The Group uses derivative financial instruments as cash flow hedges for the purpose of pre-determining:
- the exchange rate at which forecasted transactions denominated in foreign currencies will be accounted for;
- the interest paid on borrowings, both to match the fixed interest received on loans (customer financing activity), and to achieve a pre-defi ned mix of floating versus fixed rate funding structured loans.
The exchange rate exposure on forecasted commercial flows is hedged by currency swaps, forward contracts and currency options. Interest rate exposures are usually hedged by interest rate swaps and, in limited cases, by forward rate agreements.
Counterparties to these agreements are major and diverse financial institutions.
Information on the fair value of derivative financial instruments held at the balance sheet date is provided in Note 21 “Other financial assets and Other fi nancial liabilities”.
Additional qualitative information on the fi nancial risks to which the Group is exposed is provided in Note 33 “Information on financial risks”.