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How CFOs are protecting their businesses from geopolitical risk

As geopolitical tensions in Ukraine increase, prompting risk aversion across global financial markets, foreign exchange volatility and the risk of contagion in Europe are the key factors to watch for, chief financial officers (CFO) told CNBC.

The price of oil and currency moves in light of the Russian troops' movements into Crimea over the weekend are budget airline easyJet's main concerns. Meanwhile insurer and asset manager Old Mutual is eyeing the potential risk of shock to European markets.

(Read more: Could Ukraine trigger a full-blown EM crisis?)

"From a geopolitical point of view, with regard to the crisis in the Ukraine, for my business it is all about what it does to commodities and foreign exchange volatility, we are short dollar and fuel . We have complex hedging strategies in place to cover that and for me that is the important thing for my business," said easyJet CFO Chris Kennedy.

Brent and U.S. crude oil rallied more than $2 per barrel to multi-month highs on Monday, lifted by rising tension in Ukraine after Russian President Vladimir Putin declared he had the right to invade his neighbor.

(Read more: Market shivers and winter weather chill CFO confidence)

Asian Alphan | Getty Images

Kennedy said he was not concerned by how the crisis in Ukraine would impact customer travel, as the airline is predominantly based in Western Europe and has little exposure to Eastern Europe.

"The hedging is there to do is to smooth the impact of oil and dollar on the cost base of the business. Historically what has happened is prices rise or fall in the end with the price of oil," he said.

(Read more: CFOs signal fears of consumer spending slump)

"In terms of the forward booking, clearly we have the Moscow route, but that is pretty much the only route we have," he added.

Old Mutual Group financial director Philip Broadley said the events in Ukraine were just adding more uncertainty to European markets. But for the company, foreign exchange volatility was not as much as a concern, as the group has been steadily seeking to increase the proportion of cash revenues that are earned in Europe and the U.S. over the last few years.

(Read more: Euro zone needs demand boost: STMicroelectronics CFO)

"Our customers have been consistently saving over the last year or so, we have seen something like £1 billion of net cash flow coming into the U.K. each quarter – that is customers looking to invest ," said Broadley.

"But clearly they are investing in underlying stocks – today's events are just bringing more uncertainty into what is a fairly fragile European recovery," he said.

By CNBC's Jenny Cosgrave: Follow her on Twitter @jenny_cosgrave

CNBC Global CFO Council

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