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Best Crisis Management Solution Winner: ST Telemedia (STT)

Published: Apr 2021

 

Photo of ST Telemedia treasury and tax team.

Darren Chua

Vice President, Finance

ST Telemedia is a strategic investor specialising in Communications & Media, Data Centres and Infrastructure Technology businesses across Asia, US and Europe. It is committed to igniting enduring change for its stakeholders by unlocking potential value and focusing on long-term value creation. Through its portfolio of complementary businesses and assets, STT aims to build leading platforms and Asia-Pacific champions that facilitate business growth and advance societies. It is a portfolio company of Temasek Holdings.

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Lean team at STT responds quickly, nimbly and collaboratively to COVID-19 challenge

The challenge

With the unexpected onset of the COVID-19 pandemic where social distancing and mandatory working-from-home (WFH) became the new norms, STT Treasury team recognised that its existing day-to-day operations would be severely impacted.

As Darren Chua, Vice President, Finance, recalls, “The mission-critical issue is how to transform our existing cash and liquidity operations to a WFH operation quickly, without any disruption and for business continuity.”

The treasury challenges involved two aspects: the front and back office. The front office challenge involves the ability to access relevant latest market information for decision-making to transact and confirm trades effectively during WFH. The back office challenge involves the transmission of confirmation documents, payments/settlements, recording and reporting trades during WFH.

Before Covid-19, STT treasury department operated on a traditional on-premise system and manual processes which were time-consuming and labour intensive. For example, its standalone Bloomberg terminal in the office would be inaccessible during WFH. The company also relied heavily on excel spreadsheets for treasury management – a time-consuming manual process that is prone to human error and often not promptly updated. With the onset of the pandemic, the company needed to have timely visibility of the liquidity positions of its investee companies and it also needed to ensure that robust communication channels, both internal and external, are readily accessible at anytime and anywhere.

The solution

STT Treasury team swiftly organised Business Continuity Planning (BCP) arrangements with its banks including the acceptance of email confirmations by signatories with unsigned softcopy letters, followed by call-back authentication before the release of payments.

The team also activated e-payment modules over e-banking with CitiDirect and HSBCnet and onboarded C-suite and Directors to log-in with Token/2-Factor Authentication.

Remote access to the office Bloomberg terminal was activated and the company’s rollout of the cloud-based SaaS Treasury Management System by FIS, which started just before the pandemic, was accelerated and this has enabled the department to digitalise most of its back office internal treasury processes and information such as recording trades, generating confirmations letters and updated reports.

The company has also enabled remote access to its shared drive, shared services and engaged external courier services for delivery of hard copy documents. A detailed liquidity review of the STT group was also conducted to identify potential hot spots.

These initiatives and solutions have enabled STT treasury team to continue to function smoothly and confidently during WFH and through the ongoing pandemic.

Best practice and innovation

The success of STT treasury team’s crisis management on the back of the company’s ongoing digitalisation transformation drive is due to the following demonstrable teamwork and practices. The treasury team undertook a thorough review and detailed walk-through of the various day-to-day operations for alternative effective remote working arrangements.

The team practised close communication and strong collaboration with all the departments in STT and with the company’s investee companies to reduce bottlenecks and optimise resources quickly.

Readiness in sharing information and resources within the STT group, such as regular group liquidity reviews and using each other’s available office spaces to accommodate split-team work requirements.

Finally, strong support and leadership from STT senior management for the swift rollout of various critical office services and resources, including the provision of essential office equipment and services and digitalisation initiatives, contributed to the timely and successful transition.

Key benefits

  • Front-office BCP arrangements with banks and e-payments reduced manual processes and improved efficiency, resulting in cost savings.
  • TMS, shared drive, telecommuting, remote Bloomberg terminal access enabled more efficient use of resources and improved productivity.
  • Comprehensive liquidity review provided timely visibility to potential hotspots within the STT Group.
  • Ability to respond nimbly to the challenges with solutions and initiatives to “keep the lights on” have boosted senior management’s confidence and trust in STT Treasury team.
  • Accelerated digital adoption in the company and across the STT group.

“Given the unexpected and swift outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, STT treasury team, albeit operating with a lean team of four, was able to stay nimble, adapt and transform quickly from our manual treasury operations to be fully functional remotely without any disruption, downtime or slippage costs,” concludes Darren Chua, Vice President, Finance.

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Carla Oetama

Global Solution Sales, Treasury and Trade Solutions
Citi Singapore

Our proactive engagement with ST Telemedia is one of synergy where we strive to improve and achieve sustainable infrastructure.

On this particular initiative, we aligned on our collective goals around integrated treasury-operational preparedness with ST Telemedia, which was in the early stages in automating its entire infrastructure.

We partnered with our technology and implementation teams to develop a robust solution and roadmap to enable comprehensive visibility to its complex liquidity and credit position across its subsidiaries globally; as well as accessibility of the global banking platform and the latest independent market information as part of the group enhanced overall risk management strategy.

With the onset of the pandemic and working-from-home setting, we focused on formulating and executing clear blueprint with fast-to-implement recommendations to ensure payment-operations readiness and speedy completion. Another achievement to our synergy here is having a robust foundation and sustainable path to enable them in their next digital journey.

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