Photo of Mark Palmer, Austin Matthews, Sky, Sander Van Den Heuvel, Yalmar Vogelsang, NBC Universal, Stuart Case, Sky, Roberta Eiseman, Comcast Capital Corporation, Adit Gadgil, J.P. Morgan and Kun de Smet, PwC and Gaetan Okias, J.P. Morgan.
Comcast is the second largest broadcasting and cable television company in the world by revenue and is America’s largest home internet service provider.
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Project transforms EMEA first with more to follow
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Comcast’s global reach and scale creates a unique set of challenges. The company had accumulated more than 80 bank relationships and over 3,800 bank accounts across hundreds of entities. Cash and liquidity management structures were complex and fragmented, with multiple cash pools. In September 2019, Comcast embarked on a harmonisation and transformation project, with a view to rationalising bank relationships and accounts, simplifying cash and liquidity management and leveraging technology. By doing so, treasury would be able to centralise cash more efficiently, securely, and cost-effectively as well as finance group working capital. The transformation project was based on global design principles, which could then be applied on a regional basis. During the global design work, the value of restructuring its bank connectivity became clear but was a major undertaking given the payments and collections volume Comcast processes daily and the number of systems, people and processes to be interfaced. Part of Comcast’s banking, cash and liquidity transformation also included its internal systems and connectivity. The group already had FIS’s Quantum solution, but its use across the group was inconsistent and did not fully leverage its functionality. The team expanded its use to in-house banking (IHB), enhanced cash management, and capital markets management and linked to its internal ERPs for general ledger integration. The global design work was completed at the time the pandemic struck, leading to an implementation pause as treasury focused on managing the immediate impact of the crisis. After a few months, however, treasury wanted to restart the project to deliver the value that transformation promised.
The team selected J.P. Morgan for global pooling, BNP Paribas and Barclays as its primary regional banks and PwC was the consultant to the project. Comcast also created an IHB and implemented FIS’s Trax for payments and bank connectivity. Comcast was keen to centralise liquidity quickly, so treasury initially implemented a partially automated overlay structure. The project involved training and onboarding more than 200 Trax users and 100 Quantum users. Sky is one of the UK’s largest issuers of direct debits (DDs), particularly in Germany and Italy, and has market leadership positions across its European footprint, so the team had to process millions of DDs each month.
Best practice and innovation
Key features of this project are the challenging circumstances under which the project was undertaken and the scale of its treasury, payments, and collections operation which created three distinctive characteristics:
- Comcast and its partners had to take a highly pragmatic approach to project delivery, focusing on activities that created the greatest value for the business, both operationally and from a liquidity optimisation perspective.
- Given the project scale and number of users and transactions affected, it was crucial to avoid any interruption to the business and manage the risk of failure. To achieve this, project discipline was essential, including rigorous testing, robust and secure interfaces and extensive user-testing and familiarisation.
- To minimise risk and maximise value, Comcast and its partners set, and achieved, ambitious project timescales, with the initial global liquidity structure and IHB implemented within the first three months, a remarkable achievement given the scale of the project and 100% remote working during lockdowns.
- Cost savings.
- Process efficiencies.
- Return on investment.
- Increased automation.
- Risk mitigated.
- Improved visibility.
- Number of banking partners/bank accounts reduced.
- Manual intervention reduced.
- Increased system connectivity.
- Future proof solution.
- Exceptional implementation (budget/time).
“While EMEA was the first region, we plan to extend the project globally. The next phase is Canada, Mexico, Puerto Rico, and the US, which is our single biggest market. Subsequent phases are planned for Latin America and Asia Pacific,” concludes Roberta Eiseman, President.