Congratulations to all our 2022 Adam Smith Awards Asia winners. Watch this space to hear winner podcasts and read their case studies!
Historically, excess liquidity from Asia was being manually swept to participate in a global multi-currency notional pooling structure in the UK. Manual transfers are inefficient, in addition, funds were managed on a forecasted basis in Asia with residual balances being left in country – all of which meant Marsh McLennan could not fully optimise their cash.
Traditionally, Yinson relied on paper-based and over-the-counter payments processes as well as file-upload in different countries for some of its banking payments. Dealing with multiple banks meant different technology, channels and formats – leading to complex, inefficient and costly processes. Time had to be spent on cumbersome, manual reconciliation processes leading to an increased risk of error and operational inefficiencies. This resulted in yet more resource hours to obtain its cash position across all markets.
Through its Smart Nation initiative, the Singapore Government has been promoting the use of technology to effect transformation in all aspects of Singaporeans’ lives. However, despite the wide variety and availability of cashless payment methods in the market, Singapore remains a resolutely cash-based society in certain segments. To drive adoption of e-payment services, PayNow was introduced as a real-time peer-to-peer funds transfer mechanism in 2017. However, it was not until the pandemic struck that an accelerated transition to this new digital payment landscape was experienced with the broader adoption and usage of PayNow, digital wallets and QR Code payment alternatives.
The company is catering to the healthcare needs of over 30 million Indians, with a partner network of over 90,000 doctors, 7,000 hospitals, 3,000 diagnostic centres and 2,500 pharmacies, covering over 23,000 geographical pin codes in India. Prior to COVID-19, Medibuddy’s service providers and vendors (ie labs and hospitals) would provide 30-60 days credit period to Medibuddy.
HUL had launched Eco-System Financing Program to support financing needs of its suppliers, customer and retailers in order to support them during critical Covid-19 times when they were reeling under the lockdown, delays in payments and limited sales apart from difficult macro environment depressing the business sentiments. HUL in partnership with multiple banks and Fintech companies created tailor made programs to support with competitive interest rates and commercial terms.
Singapore Technologies Engineering Ltd (STE) announced the US$2.68bn acquisition of US firm TransCore in October 2021 to bolster its smart city growth.
Lendlease Global Commercial REIT’s (LREIT) acquisition of Jem (a suburban mall in Singapore) required a debt solution of S$860m – a size that was almost as large as LREIT’s market capitalisation at that time. Against the backdrop of rising interest rates and geopolitical tension, LREIT must find a financing solution for the acquisition.
Global crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic have highlighted risk concerns – including financial risks, cyber risk and tight liquidity flow. In addition, corporates face volatility from an inflationary environment with rising interest rates. Rio Tinto needed a solution which addressed these risks.
Kimly Construction Private Limited (Kimly) had to deal with mountains of paperwork and engage concurrently with multiple stakeholders on multiple projects. Before the automation of the company’s procure-to-pay (P2P) processes were implemented, Kimly would manually process the transactions with its stakeholders, such as suppliers, sub-contractors, service providers and financial institutions.
In the past, this fast growth company faced significant operational risk issues and onerous banking processes with multiple bank accounts with multiple different banks due to its unique business model while lacking digital solutions or connectivity. A few major challenges defined “The Big Problem.”
In order to bring the best advice to clients, the firm draws on the expertise of its consultants located in different countries to deliver customised solutions to its clients regardless of their location. This cross-border model leads to complexities in internal payroll processes involving payroll delivery in multiple currencies depending on the employee’s home location and location of assignments.
Even as Bridgestone’s business evolved significantly over its 90-year history, its treasury and banking infrastructure in APAC remained decentralised and sub-optimal, and the platforms and systems used across its vast organisation were highly manual. In addition, each market maintained over ten banking providers locally, resulting in disparate payments processes that required extensive and manual reconciliation.
The structure of a holistic investment vehicle to facilitate the entry and investment of overseas funds into the China market was a critical management decision for InnoVen China. Traditionally, foreign capital investment in China is through a foreign direct investment by establishing a wholly owned foreign enterprise (WOFE).
With an increasing global footprint, Xiaomi faced the challenge of effectively managing its exposures in multiple currencies. Xiaomi produces various electronics products and markets them in over 100 countries. It had total sales of US$48bn with global FX exposures to most of the major developed economies and emerging markets in 2021. The challenge for the company was managing its FX risks while remaining competitive in product pricing and honouring the company’s commitment to ‘provide the best quality at an honest pricing’.
Gwendolyn Ng joined the Danone Asia Pacific & Middle East (ASPAME) three-man treasury team in 2020, playing an instrumental role in their ambitious transformation to create a robust scalable system to manage the business growth in the region.
In January 2020, Olam Group announced a major corporate reorganisation to split its business into three independent operating groups. The reorganisation required the company to restack its entire debt portfolio (approximately US$20bn of facilities) into the three new operating groups spanning public and private bonds, committed revolving credit facilities (RCFs)/term loans, bilateral working capital lines and FX facilities, while continuing to meet the day-to-day requirements of the business.
During the pandemic, Lenovo’s business grew by 42% in an environment of massive supply chain disruption, a rapid shift to remote working and an additional US$4bn working capital requirement. Joseph has instigated a centralised cash management approach via a hub model to optimise group liquidity across approximately 300 entities and nine factory plants in five regions. His team of 30, mostly located in Singapore, but also in China, USA, Brazil and Hong Kong, manages relationships with approximately 40 banking partners, with around 1,000 bank accounts in more than 50 currencies.
Save the Children (STC) projects contribute to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) for no poverty and zero hunger. Save the Children piloted a Cash Voucher Assistance – Child Protection micro-grant project in two districts of Sindh and Punjab in Pakistan. Under the said project, Save the Children provided three months of cash assistance to the targeted households, whose children were involved in child labour and were identified and referred through the case management teams of the child protection units established by the organisation.
Jyotsna Sharma is CFO and Head of IT at Bridgestone India Pvt Ltd in Pune and the overall winner of the Adam Smith Awards Asia 2022 Woman of the Year Award. Pune is a city in India that is built upon the automobile industry leading Jyotsna Sharma, to refer to it as many do as ‘The Detroit of India’.
The Infosys treasury team based in India manages the group’s global requirements around investments, liquidity and working capital, Forex (FX) and currency risk, regulatory compliances, aligning and embedding itself within the overall business objectives of Infosys.
Transactional automation was required to resolve complexities arising from legacy processes and the incorporation of existing and new-age technology. There were challenges in reconciling collections and the daily processes of reconciling large volume of payments received from different channels was arduous and time consuming that led to higher probability of payment discrepancies.
Launched in 2021, Zoetis Reference Laboratories China (Zoetis Reference Labs) is a technical service provider providing clinical laboratory tests for companion animals. Zoetis Reference Labs have developed a one stop lab order management system where vet clinics can quickly and easily access the services provided by the labs.
Socfin was experiencing significant growth in its agro-industrial sites. With strong business momentum, large amounts of cash balances were accumulating. Head office (HO) was facing challenges to view its real-time positions and track cash flows accurately. More importantly, HO lacked direct access to these funds. Additionally, there were missed opportunities on potential yield enhancements on the operating cash balances due to the lack of control and visibility.
By 2030, BP aim to be a different kind of energy company transforming the way these services support their transition from an international oil company (IOC) to an international energy company (IEC).
Yili Group suffered from numerous and scattered banking accounts, which were difficult to manage. Yili’s global cash management required bank accounts in 11 countries and regions around the world with more than 80 cooperative accounts with 20 banks, incurring enormous workload for global treasurers to manage multiple banking systems.
SUSS has 17,000 students and running an institution of such scale often meant the university had to make voluminous payments to various vendors. These payments are mainly made through bank transfers and in some instances, such as online purchases, via credit card. Without a corporate purchasing card, employees had to use their personal credit card and submit a claim thereafter. The claims process was manual as receipts are needed to match against the payments and ensure the appropriate approvals.
Archipelago Rubber Trading Pte Ltd (ART) specialises in rubber trading by purchasing rubber crumbs from factories in Indonesia. ART has been a regular supplier to an international tyre manufacturer, who is also a UOB customer, under its Financial Supply Chain Management (FSCM) programme. UOB finances the suppliers of this tyre manufacturer under its Supplier Finance – Irrevocable Payment Undertaking (SF-IPU) programme.
In 2021, HCL conducted a benchmarking analysis and found that its working capital metrics fared below its industry peers, where a high proportion of working capital was trapped within its supply chains. Further assessment revealed that HCL was managing disparate payment terms across supplier categories and markets.
Receivables collection typically lasts for a long period in the wind farm industry, which puts pressure on the working capital and the cash conversion cycle of Goldwind. At the same time, more and more overseas project owners are asking for prolonged payment terms (typically two years or more) during project tenders.
In December 2021, Chinese regulators approved a US$9bn acquisition by South Korea’s SK Hynix Inc of Intel Corp’s NAND operations including Dalian Fab in China. The transaction involved a payment of US$7bn by the end of calendar year 2021 and the remaining US$2bn by the end of 2025.
As LDC works to fulfil its mission, the company is guided by their shared purpose, which is to create fair and sustainable value, for the benefit of current and future generations. To this end, the company works with all its stakeholders including its banking partners to ensure the sustainable and traceable product journey.
PureCircle predominantly sources stevia leaf from China. PureCircle’s goals were to strengthen relationships with farmers of their proprietary leaf, support farmers’ cash flow and encourage further ESG transformation of farming practices through a sustainable supply chain finance (SCF) program. These objectives were challenging given the farmers typically operate on a small scale, dispersed over China and often have manual finance and payment processes.
PVH Corp. (PVH) has a long-standing commitment to driving sustainable business by continuously improving and protecting the environment and human rights across their global supply chain, which is core to their Forward Fashion strategy – driving fashion forward for good.
The central tenet of the Hypertherm global treasury team’s risk mitigation strategy has always been an unwavering focus on controls and standardisation, from its treasury processes to the solutions employed globally and at country level, including the adoption of one-off solutions. Treasury management is centralised and considered a CoE at the company headquarters in New Hampshire, US. This CoE develops, owns and monitors these controls, which are perpetuated throughout its offices globally.
Being a manual process with limited resources at hand, it was a time-consuming activity for the organisation’s treasury team. Most of their time was spent completing transactional activities while the focus was required on strategic decision-making. Moreover, owing to the size of the treasury portfolio, it was very difficult and inefficient to manage treasury via spreadsheets. Manual activities exposed the entire function to indefinite risk, without any controls.
Since 2010, Abbott’s Penang operation has focused on the manufacture of cardiac rhythm management (CRM) devices (pacemakers, defibrillators, and other associated accessories for heart-related solutions).
Before COVID-19, the automotive industry had its share of challenges due to its traditional offline business model and bespoke financial system, which was difficult to integrate with other external systems. Most companies including Borneo Motors, are facing a lot of disruption be it the introduction of electric vehicles or the move to online business.
The company’s governance structure required an independent third party to act as custodian for the metals and any customer funds safeguarded, either for monies deposited in advance of a transaction or pending settlement for a purchase. e-Bullion has partnered with one of India’s largest vault service providers, which is also one of the key accredited vaults for MCX India.
Adani Digital Labs (ADL) aimed to bring all the 400 million end-consumers engaging across the ecosystem of Adani Group under a single digital umbrella. Adani Digital would be the central entity in a hub and spoke model, through which the order booking and collections for all the device-to-device (D2D) businesses, as well as ecosystem participants, would be routed.
GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and its bank engaged in a thorough white-boarding session to outline GSK’s collections objectives and structured a comprehensive digital solution for distributor collections.
To create a strong competitive advantage beyond the 40+ licensed bunker suppliers in Singapore, TFG Marine sought an efficient process to track its bunker application and sales processes for financing through the digital exchange of data. Without digitalisation, the company’s current process relied heavily on the submission of physical copies of bunker delivery notes (BDN) and other supporting documents to obtain financing.
Cognizant operates its APAC treasury function from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and Chennai, India, which, for the most part, is efficiently run via a cash pooling structure that connects almost all its markets in the region – including Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Australia and New Zealand – to a global header pool in London.
In India, Fortum Group has been awarded various projects by SECI/NTPC/GUVNL for generation of solar power on build own operate (BOO) basis. The group is also setting up electric vehicles (EV) charging stations across India. The company needed an attractive prepaid model instead of the existing post-paid model to minimise credit risk and extend end-client adoption of digital collection for charging of electric vehicles at Fortum’s unmanned EV charging stations.
Sinopec operates two regional treasury centres in Asia, one in Singapore and another in Hong Kong. To manage liquidity positions across group entities, the treasury team in Singapore regularly initiated bank transfers to fund/defund each entity’s accounts, by accessing different banks e-banking systems. In doing so, the group’s liquidity position was not optimised; balances had to be moved before payment cut-off times.
It’s not been an easy path since Build Your Dreams (BYD) determined to set up its green vision back in 2008, but BYD never considered giving up despite numerous challenges. Being a global business, it was imperative that BYD had the expertise of a global bank that could help the company achieve its business goals.
Following its spin-off from American conglomerate Honeywell International, Garrett Motion (Garrett) was looking to rebuild its cash management infrastructure; and specific to Asia Pacific, its regional treasury team in Shanghai had two key priorities.
Kulicke & Soffa (K&S) has a strong culture of risk management with strict operational guidelines for risk control without compromising operations efficiency. As part of this focus on risk, the treasury team continues to seek innovative, automated solutions to optimise investment and maximise yield.
Eicher Motors wanted to create a best in class service experience for its suppliers. The company was looking for access to cost-effective and competitive financing options responsive to unique supplier requirements, especially post-Covid, as the pandemic had impacted the overall supply chain with many suppliers struggling to fund their working capital needs.
Kuaishou has experienced exponential growth to become a global leading player. Its Kwai app is hugely popular in overseas emerging markets – particularly in Brazil where Kwai is the most downloaded app. Even as Kuaishou experienced huge success in Brazil, it was facing local challenges running its critical cash incentive programme that makes millions of small payments a day from its overseas treasury hub to its end-users as a reward for their video contributions.
Anne Kow is Head of Treasury for South East Asia at Mercedes-Benz, based in Singapore. Her role includes coverage of Australia, New Zealand and Korea. Her professional experience has given her a wealth of knowledge in areas ranging across foreign exchange, cash, liquidity and risk management. This experience was gained during an extensive career at Daimler Group before the company’s evolution culminating in a spin-off of the truck group.
British American Tobacco (BAT) wanted to centralise cash management and gain operational efficiency from leveraging its in-house bank set-up and a single SAP instance across all markets within the group, while obtaining greater visibility on its funds. The company also aimed to rationalise the number of accounts and decrease overall banking fees.
Throughout its 93-year history, leading consumer goods company Unilever had always relied on third-party distributors to deliver its goods and transact mainly in physical cash with millions of small and medium enterprises (SME) and micro SME retailers across the world.