Monday, November 12, 2012

The Difficult of Getting Paid

I think I can probably state that ALL of my readers like to get paid. Even if someone out there is independently wealthy, they still like to get paid when they are owed something (you would certainly never get be independently wealthy if you didn't follow that practice). In most cases, getting paid for an owed debt is fairly simple as there are numerous laws and courts to help..."induce"...the transfer of money, but if the matter involves multiple countries, it can get to be more challenging. Or should I say, far more challenging.

That is what Dow Chemical is finding out. It has been waiting and waiting and waiting for a $2+ billion dollar settlement from the Kuwaiti state company Petrolchemical Industries Company (PIC). This all began back in 2008 when Dow and PIC started a joint venture to be called K-Dow. Dow was contributing assets and PIC was contributing cash for them. PIC was of course planning on using oil revenues to fund their side of the venture, but when the price of oil dropped, the Kuwaitis pulled out. This left Dow holding the bag. That in itself was bad enough, but Dow had already counted its chickens before they were hatched and had put an offer in to buy Rohm & Haas with the money that the Kuwaitis had promised them. One way or the other, Dow was able to complete the deal with Rohm & Haas but still sought compensation from PIC. They won a settlement of over $2 billion, and as of the beginning of this year, were still expecting payment shortly.

Flash forward to now and they are still waiting. So now they are looking at grabbing assets where ever they can find them. Wow. What a mess. What an horrible mess. It's not like grabbing assets is going to be the end of this, as that will lead to still more legal battles around the world. The only ones happy with all this would be the law firms as it means more work for them. Given that since this all began, oil prices have climbed to very high levels for a long period of time, you would have thought that PIC would have had no problem in setting aside a measly $2 billion, but that appears to not be the case.


Chemjobber said...

When I got into The Real World, the concept of "net 30" or "net 60" for payment terms was really surprising to me. Why wouldn't you pay your bills like a normal household, as soon as possible?

It's kinda funny to imagine the accounts receivable lady at Dow, clicking "refresh" on their bank balance.

John said...


While in principal the world of big finance is similar to the world of small finance that runs our households, there can be some interesting differences. When I worked at a mega-corporation, I met of the company's accountants who as part of his job, called up a bunch of banks at the end of the day to see who had the highest interest that day on cash. All the company's cash then went there and was withdrawn the next day for whatever uses it was needed for.

Think about it. The overnight interest on the cash was more than enough to pay for this guy spending an hour making phone calls.