Case Studies

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Strategic Asset Allocation During Global Uncertainty

by Dr Weina Zhang, Dr Man Zhang (University of Sydney), Assoc Prof Ruth Tan and Dr Zsuzsa Huszar (Visiting Professor, Department of Economics and Business, Central European University)

Publication Date: 09/10/2018

This exercise places the reader in the position of an investor, who, before 2017, had invested for almost 20 years. Since the financial crisis in 2008–09, this investor had stayed away from the US market. The investor’s return from the previous year stood at a mere 2 per cent. Given that many political events would likely occur in 2017, the investor hoped to revise their investment strategies at the time by developing a more internationalized portfolio. Specifically, the investor was considering how to allocate capital among the existing 10 broker-recommended exchange-traded funds traded on the Singapore stock exchange and two exchange-traded funds in alternative assets traded in the US market. The investor also needed to provide additional cash flows for the education of their two daughters from year two onward for a total of four years. The investor was also willing to reshuffle the investment portfolio to put more weights into the US market. However, before making the revised investment decision, the investor needed to consider the expected returns and risks.

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Fujitsu: Co-Creating Digital Business

by Assoc Prof Sarah L. Y. Cheah and Assoc Prof Maw Der Foo (Nanyang Technological University)

Publication Date: 13/09/2018

In 2017, the president of Fujitsu Asia Pte. Ltd. in Singapore, a subsidiary of Japanese conglomerate Fujitsu Limited (Fujitsu) needed to decide between two project options that represented growth in different industries in Asia. Both projects represented Fujitsu's vision of connected services and could potentially be much-needed engines of new growth for Fujitsu Singapore over the next 5 to 10 years. The first option was to offer its Japanese-engineered cloud-computing platform to engage small and medium enterprises in the manufacturing industry. Given the high costs of customizing the existing platform for local use, the president wondered whether small and medium manufacturers would generate sufficient demand to justify such a costly investment. The second option was to leverage the success of Fujitsu’s intelligent agricultural cloud-computing project with the Japanese government to offer vertical farming to Singapore and other Asian cities that faced similar space constraints but valued food resilience. But was it the right time to enter the agricultural industry? The president had limited time and resources, and needed to make a decision very soon.

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Nintendo: An Outsider as Successor

by Assoc Prof Ruth S.K. Tan and Assoc Prof Yupana Wiwattanakantang 

Publication Date: 30/08/2018

Under the visionary leadership of Hiroshi Yamauchi, Nintendo Co., Ltd. (Nintendo) of Japan had transformed from a small founder-controlled business to a global and professionalized firm. Yamauchi’s death in 2013 had the potential to affect Nintendo’s corporate financial policy. Following his passing, Yamauchi’s family was left with a huge inheritance—but also an exorbitant inheritance tax bill. The family sought advice from Nintendo on how to deal with the matter. How could Nintendo solve this financial trouble in a way that balanced the interests of both the family and Nintendo’s management?

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Standard Chartered Bank Singapore: Embracing the Silver Lining

by Assoc Prof Thompson Teo, Ms Sok Chin Lim (BBA graduated student), Mr Jun Xiao Lau (BBA graduated student) and Ms Yun Shan Amanda Chua (BBA graduated student)

Publication Date: 31/07/2018

Standard Chartered Bank (Singapore) Limited (Standard Chartered) was part of an international banking group that focused on the creation of wealth across Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. As part of its commitment to corporate social responsibility, Standard Chartered launched a project in 2012 called Silver Lining, a community project that aimed to support elderly Singaporeans in meeting their financial and health care needs. Silver Lining had overcome a number of challenges since its inception, choosing appropriate partners and finding ways to help young volunteers overcome language barriers to work with elderly clients. It had also joined with other organizations to collaborate on offering supports and services to seniors in the community, some of whom were dealing with poor mental health. In early 2017, Standard Chartered had to make some key strategic decisions in order to ensure the continued relevance of Silver Lining and justify the need for continued funding for the project.

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Sika: Optimizing The APAC Epoxy Flooring Supply Chain

Assoc Prof Singfat Chu and Mr Bruno Oehy (EMBA student)

Publication Date: 29/03/2018

In mid-2017, the regional head of Operations and Supply Chain at Sika AG, a Swiss specialty chemicals leader that developed solutions for building and automotive industries, faced a new challenge in the company’s epoxy flooring supply chain. She was tasked with identifying a robust solution that would both satisfy a shortened lead time and provide spare capacity to accommodate future growth. How should she proceed with these tasks?

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Standard Chartered PLC: Riding the Market During Corporate Restructuring

Dr Weina Zhang, Assoc Prof Ruth S.K. Tan and Dr Zsuzsa R. Huszar

Publication Date: 23/03/2018

In early 2014, Standard Chartered PLC, a British multinational banking and financial services company headquartered in London, England, announced its restructuring plan. The announcement triggered positive reactions in both stock and bond markets. Nevertheless, the eventual profitability was not what was expected. Moving forward into 2015, how would a rational investor have taken advantage of such a corporate restructuring event?

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SMRT: Getting Back on Track

by Assoc Prof Thompson S.H. Teo, Mr Cherie Heng (BBA student), Ms Cheryl Lee (Double degree BBA and Computing student), Mr Zhuoran Liu (Statistics student, Minor in Management), Ms Shi Qing Ng (BBA student) and Ms Xinyi Sherry Yuan (BBA student)

Publication Date: 02/03/2018

On July 7, 2015, a power fault during the evening commute led to a system-wide disruption on SMRT, Singapore’s heavily used mass rapid transit lines. Train service on both lines was shut down for more than two hours, affecting more than 413,000 commuters. The public was outraged at the scale of the breakdown and how ineffectively it was handled. Detailed investigations revealed the breakdown to be a result of maintenance lapses, and SMRT was criticized for its failure to provide clear and timely information and instructions to passengers. Following the breakdown, the company embarked on a service recovery process encompassing various new initiatives. This case illustrates the tensions SMRT faced during and after the breakdown, and its journey to recover the public’s confidence in is transit services.

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IOI’s Global Challenge: Moving up the Palm Oil Value Chain

by Assoc Prof Marleen Dieleman

Publication Date: 12/02/2018

Malaysian palm oil company IOI Corporation Berhad (IOI) developed from a plantation company in Malaysia to become a vertically integrated manufacturing company with a range of higher value manufacturing businesses across Asia, Europe, and the United States. The rapid expansion into what the chief executive officer (CEO) called a “mini-multinational” placed greater demands on IOI and its leadership. The CEO had struggled to simultaneously achieve growth, innovation, control, and coordination, and the company had experienced a sustainability crisis in 2016. In early 2017, the CEO needed to decide whether to approve an ambitious growth strategy—proposed by IOI’s specialty oils and fats team, which led most overseas operations and handled IOI’s most innovative products—to be achieved by 2025. While he was eager to expand IOI and strengthen its position as a widely admired Asian family multinational, he also needed to weigh the constraints. He could not risk growing the company faster than the leadership’s ability to control it.

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Jiuzhai Valley National Park: Data-Driven Economic Growth and Ecological Preservation

by Assoc Prof H. Brian Hwarng and Mr Jianhua Ran (Manager, Digital Information Center, Jiuzhai Valley National Park)

Publication Date: 26/01/2018

Since 2000, China’s Jiuzhai Valley National Park (Jiuzhai Valley) had been experiencing a sharp increase in the volume of tourists it received. The park contributed significantly to the surrounding area’s economy: in 2015 and 2016, it contributed more than 60 per cent of the total admission income received from the four major scenic parks within the Aba Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture of Sichuan Province. However, pollution and noise due to the influx of visitors presented a constant threat to Jiuzhai Valley’s ecosystem and environment. Despite Jiuzhai Valley’s fairly advanced and disciplined approach to park management, there was no easy solution to the problem it faced in trying to balance its economic success and sustainable environmental initiatives. Attempts to manage information using digital and smart technologies and “big data” were still in their early stages, and had yet to yield the expected benefits. How could the park balance conservation and development to attain sustainability?

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Caterpillar Inc.: Aftermarket Parts Freight Optimization

by Assoc Prof Singfat Chu and Ms Ramya Subramanian (EMBA student)

Publication Date: 24/01/2018

A key contributor to the business reputation and success of Caterpillar Inc. (Caterpillar) was the company’s reliable aftermarket service. Caterpillar’s Asia Distribution Centre in Singapore processed urgent spare parts orders received from dealers located in 10 Southeast Asian countries. In 2017, the operations team was working to develop a rigorous analytical method for making daily decisions about how to ship the spare parts. Shipments were consolidated by country destination and needed to optimize the interests of three stakeholders: (1) Caterpillar, which wanted to minimize freight costs; (2) dealers, who wanted to receive the spare parts in the shortest time possible; and (3) freight forwarders, who wanted to be rewarded for their on-time delivery performance. 

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o obtain a free copy of the case, please contact Ms Kwok Siew Geok (

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