What is Foreign Currency Netting?

Foreign Currency Netting

Share This...

Foreign Currency Netting

Foreign currency netting is a method used by multinational companies to simplify and manage multiple transactions in different currencies among their subsidiaries. It involves consolidating or offsetting receivables and payables among the subsidiaries to minimize the number of transactions, reduce transaction costs, and manage foreign exchange risk.

Here’s how it works: instead of each subsidiary making multiple payments to each other, creating a complex web of transactions, they consolidate their payments into a single net amount that is then transferred. This reduces the total number of transactions, saving transaction fees and administrative costs. It also reduces exposure to fluctuating foreign exchange rates.

Example of Foreign Currency Netting

Let’s consider a simplified example involving three subsidiaries of a multinational corporation, each based in a different country:

  • Subsidiary A is based in the United States (US)
  • Subsidiary B is based in the United Kingdom (UK)
  • Subsidiary C is based in Japan (JP)

Over the course of doing business, these subsidiaries incur various debts to each other:

  • Subsidiary A owes Subsidiary B $100,000 and Subsidiary C $50,000
  • Subsidiary B owes Subsidiary A £60,000 and Subsidiary C £40,000
  • Subsidiary C owes Subsidiary A ¥7,000,000 and Subsidiary B ¥5,000,000

Without netting, this would result in six separate cross-border transactions, each of which might incur a transaction fee and be subject to exchange rate risk. To reduce these costs and risks, the company decides to implement foreign currency netting.

Assuming an exchange rate of $1.3/£1 and ¥110/$1, the net amounts owed between the subsidiaries, once converted into their respective home currencies, might look something like this:

  • Subsidiary A: Owes $100,000 to B and $50,000 to C, but is owed the equivalent of $78,000 (from B) and $63,636 (from C). Therefore, A ends up owing B $22,000 and receiving $13,636 from C.
  • Subsidiary B: Owes the equivalent of £46,154 (to A) and £40,000 (to C), but is owed £76,923 (from A). Therefore, B ends up receiving £30,769 from A and still owes £40,000 to C.
  • Subsidiary C: Owes the equivalent of $63,636 (to A) and $45,455 (to B), but is owed $50,000 (from A). Therefore, C ends up owing A $13,636 and receiving $4,545 from B.

After netting, there are only three transactions: A pays B, A receives from C, and B pays C, thus reducing transaction costs and foreign exchange risk.

Please note that actual calculations could be much more complex, given fluctuating exchange rates, and netting might also be performed in a single agreed-upon currency. But this simplified scenario provides a basic understanding of how foreign currency netting can be applied.

Other Posts You'll Like...

Want to Pass as Fast as Possible?

(and avoid failing sections?)

Watch one of our free "Study Hacks" trainings for a free walkthrough of the SuperfastCPA study methods that have helped so many candidates pass their sections faster and avoid failing scores...