Minutes | Board Finance Committee (BFC) Meeting
BFC Attendees: Becky Burr, Ron da Silva, Danko Jevtović (Chair), Ihab Osman, Mandla Msimang, and Tripti Sinha
BFC Member Apologies: Harald Alverstrand
Other Board Member Attendees: Lito Ibarra, Göran Marby, and León Sánchez
ICANN org Attendees: Xavier Calvez (SVP, Planning and Chief Financial Officer), Franco Carrasco (Board Operations Specialists), Samantha Eisner (Deputy General Counsel), John Jeffrey (General Counsel and Secretary), Elizabeth Le (Associate General Counsel), Becky Nash (VP, Planning), and Shani Quidwai (Sr. Director, Finance)
Invited Guests: Representative from Bridgebay Financial Inc.
The following is a summary of discussions, actions taken and actions identified:
- BFC Workplan – The BFC reviewed its Workplan for FY21, which is on track.
Investment Management Update – The BFC received an update on the status of the funds under management, which have performed well despite market volatility throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, especially recently. ICANN org reported that the Reserve Fund investments grew 20 percent since FY20 when they were normalized for the one-time US$10 million transfer in June 2021 and five million dollars transfer in August 2021. The New gTLD Program Fund and the Auction Proceeds Fund returns on investment have been lower than the historical trend due to low interest rate market conditions. The New gTLD Program Fund is US$9 million lower than the FY20 Year-End balance due to operating expenses, partially offset by interest gains. The Auction Proceeds Fund is US$400K higher than the FY20 Year-End balance due to interest gains. Despite some of the lower returns, ICANN has been able to preserve capital for the New gTLD Program and Auctions Proceeds Funds, and the Funds did not experience any losses. The Committee discussed possible options to improve investment returns while maintaining ICANN's primary investment goal, which capital preservation, including the possibility of lowering the amount of liquidity. The BFC asked ICANN org to further explore this option as well any other potential options. The BFC also discussed a public inquiry of one of three investment managers for the New gTLD Program Fund and Auction Proceeds Fund. The BFC agreed with ICANN org's opinion that, pending further information, there is no concern for the safety of ICANN's investment managed by the investment manager, nor to the compliance of the funds managed with ICANN's New gTLD Investment Policy at this time. ICANN org informed the Committee that it will continue to monitor the situation. The Committee was also informed that the temporary instructions and guidance to the investment managers that were implemented at the beginning of the pandemic to mitigate against market volatility were discontinued on 15 September 2021 based on how the markets have trended. ICANN org reported that it advised the investment managers that they can fully utilize the investment policy that was in place prior to the pandemic.
- Action(s): ICANN org to further explore the option of increasing investment returns by lowering the amount of liquidity while maintaining capital preservation, including the possibility of lowering the amount of liquidity, as well as any other potential options.
- FY21 Financial Results – The BFC received an update on the FY21 financials. The FY21 actuals of US$141.7 million in funding is US$12.4 million higher than budget primarily because the budget was developed at the beginning of the pandemic at which time ICANN org took a very cautious approach in estimating the funding given the uncertainties in the market. Total cash expenses for FY21 of US$116.4 million is under budget by US$12.9 million driven primarily by travel-related savings for ICANN69, ICANN70, and ICANN71 that were conducted virtually, and other business-related travel savings, as well as lower administrative expenses from Regional Offices due to the pandemic. The actuals are well aligned with the forecasted budget, with the expected FY21 actuals to be US$25.3 million net excess as compared to the projected excess of US$26 million. These financials are still preliminary as ICANN org is currently undergoing its annual audit, which is anticipated to be completed in October 2021 with no significant changes to financials.
- FY21 Net Excess – The BFC reviewed the the net excess in the Operating Fund. The BFC discussed the allocation of the total FY21 net excess of US$25.3 million. The BFC discussed ICANN org's recommendation to allocate a portion of the FY21 net excess to the Reserve Fund to further strengthen the long-term financial stability of the organization. The BFC also considered the org's recommendation to allocate a portion of the FY21 net excess to the Supplemental Fund for Implementation of Community Recommendations (SFICR), and discussed maintaining the remaining net access in the Operating Fund. The BFC noted that the funds allocated to the SFICR are to be used for projects are that are defined, multi-year projects. The BFC agreed that the current target of the Reserve Fund identified a few years ago is still relevant and suggested that the Committee may want to review that target level next year. The Committee did not complete its discussion on this matter and will resume the discussion at the next meeting.
- AOB – ICANN org informed the BFC that org will be submitting a proposal in upcoming weeks to recommend that the Board approve certain Languages Services Contracts.
Published on 27 January 2022