In the course of our business activities, financial risks may arise from changes in interest rates, exchange rates, commodity prices, and share and fund prices. Management of financial and liquidity risks is the responsibility of the central Group Treasury department, which minimizes these risks using nonderivative and derivative financial instruments. The Board of Management is informed of the current risk situation at regular intervals.
We hedge interest rate risk, where appropriate in combination with currency risk, and risks arising from fluctuations in the value of financial instruments by means of interest rate swaps, cross-currency swaps and other interest rate contracts with matching amounts and maturity dates. This also applies to financing arrangements within the Volkswagen Group.
Foreign currency risk is reduced in particular through natural hedging, i.e. by flexibly adapting our production capacity at our locations around the world, establishing new production facilities in the most important currency regions and also procuring a large percentage of components locally, currently for instance in India, Russia and the USA. We hedge the residual foreign currency risk using hedging instruments. These include currency forwards, currency options and cross-currency swaps. We use these transactions to limit the currency risk associated with forecasted cash flows from operating activities and intragroup financing in currencies other than the respective functional currency. The currency forwards and currency options can have a term of up to six years. We thus hedge our principal foreign currency risks associated with forecasted cash flows, primarily in sterling, US dollars, Chinese renminbi, Swiss francs, Japanese yen, Swedish krona, Russian ruble and Australian dollars – mostly against the euro.
The purchasing of raw materials gives rise to risks relating to availability and price trends. We limit these risks mainly by entering into forward transactions and swaps. We have used appropriate contracts to hedge some of our requirements for commodities such as aluminum, copper, lead, platinum, rhodium, palladium and coal over a period of up to seven years. Similar transactions have been entered into for the purpose of supplementing and improving allocations of CO2 emission certificates.
We ensure that the Company remains solvent at all times by holding sufficient liquidity reserves, through confirmed credit lines and through our tried-and-tested money market and capital market programs. We cover the capital requirements of the growing financial services business mainly through borrowings at matching maturities raised in the national and international financial markets as well as through customer deposits from the direct banking business. Financing conditions in the reporting period were almost unchanged compared with 2010. For this reason and thanks to the broadly diversified structure of our refinancing sources, we were always able to raise sufficient liquidity in the various markets.
Credit lines from banks are generally only ever used within the Group to cover short-term working capital requirements. Projects are financed by, among other things, loans provided at favorable interest rates by development banks such as the European Investment Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), or by national development banks such as Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau (KfW) and Banco Nacional de Desenvolvimento Econômico e Social (BNDES). This extensive range of options means that the liquidity risk to the Volkswagen Group is extremely low.
In the , we explain our hedging policy, the hedging rules and the default and liquidity risks, and quantify the hedging transactions mentioned. Additionally, we outline the market risk within the meaning of IFRS 7.
Risks arising from financial instruments
Channeling excess liquidity into investments gives rise to counterparty risk. Partial or complete failure by a counterparty to perform its obligation to pay interest and repay principal would have a negative impact on the Volkswagen Group’s earnings and liquidity. We counter this risk through our counterparty risk management, which is described in more detail in the section entitled “”. In addition to counterparty risk, the financial instruments held for hedging purposes hedge balance sheet risks, which we limit by applying hedge accounting.
By diversifying when we invest excess liquidity and by entering into financial instruments for hedging purposes, we ensure that the Volkswagen Group remains solvent at all times, even in the event of a default by individual counterparties.
A downgrade of the Company’s rating could adversely affect the terms attached to the Volkswagen Group’s borrowings. In the reporting period, the acquisition of the automobile trading operations of Porsche Holding Gesellschaft m.b.H. (Porsche Holding Salzburg) and a majority interest in MAN SE resulted in a large outflow of liquidity. However, the strong performance from the Company’s operating business more than offset the impact of these transactions on its liquidity position, as a result of which Volkswagen’s financial stability and flexibility were strengthened overall and the Group’s existing rating was not only affirmed, but also assigned a positive outlook by Moody’s Investors Service. Creating the integrated automotive group with Porsche will result in a further significant outflow of liquidity in the coming years. In light of the current liquidity, this is not expected to give rise to any risks. Information on the rating of Volkswagen AG, Volkswagen Financial Services AG and Volkswagen Bank GmbH can be found in chapter .
Residual value risk in the financial services business
In the financial services business, we agree to buy back selected vehicles at a residual value that is fixed at inception of the contract. Residual values are set realistically so that we are able to leverage market opportunities. We evaluate the underlying lease contracts at regular intervals and recognize any necessary provisions if we identify any potential risks.
Management of the residual value risk is based on a defined feedback loop ensuring the full assessment, monitoring, management and communication of risks. This process design ensures not only professional management of residual risks but also that we systematically improve and enhance our handling of residual value risks.
As part of our risk management, we use residual value forecasts to regularly assess the appropriateness of the provisions for risks and the potential for residual value risk. In so doing, we compare the contractually agreed residual values with the fair values obtainable. These are determined utilizing data from external service providers and our own marketing data. We do not take account of the upside in residual market values when making provisions for risks.
More information on residual value risk and other risks in the financial services business, such as counterparty, market and liquidity risk, can be found in the 2011 annual report of Volkswagen Financial Services AG.