Battle over Natsteel: Undervaluation or Inimitable Foresight?

Ghee Soon Lim

On June 3, 2002, Singapore's longest corporate takeover battle broke out at NatSteel Ltd when its president Ang Kong Hua, together with his senior managers, launched a management buyout offer to acquire the only steel miller in Singapore. The management buyout offer for a government-linked company was unprecedented in terms of size. In the ensuing months, numerous twists and turns related to the saga emerged, making the takeover battle one of the most memorable and reported events in Singapore's corporate history. The long and winding case can be approached from three perspectives, namely, corporate finance, law, and strategic management. Readers would gain a lot of insights by looking at the case from all three perspectives instead of only one or two of them. A rich understanding of the dynamics of this case should help students understand and appreciate the many thorny and agonizing issues which real-life decision makers in the corporate world must face and address.

The Bittle Brew

S Elankumaran

Assam, a state in Northeast India, had been experiencing the problem of militancy for over two decades.  Tea was a major industry in the state and due to its pivotal position, militants had been excessively harassing it.  Tata Tea Limited (TTL), a subsidiary of a 125-year old and well respected conglomerate, the House of Tatas, was one of the largest players in the tea industry in the region.  The company had never succumbed to militants’ pressure of parting with money but had acted as a responsible corporate citizen by involving itself in substantial community development initiatives.  Under one such initiative — the Special Medical Assistance Scheme — a leader of a militant outfit has been treated for pregnancy and accompanying life-threatening health problem in a hospital in Mumbai.  After childbirth and treatment, when she was about to board a flight to Delhi, the Assam government with the help of Mumbai police arrested her on a tip off.  The arrest led to the controversial allegation that TTL had been funding terrorists in Assam.  Based on press and published reports, this case unfolds the whole episode with relevant background and raises debatable ethical issues that are universally relevant for business in today’s environments.

Diecraft Australia

Kannan Sethuraman & Devanath Tirupati

Diecraft Australia Pty. Ltd, a subsidiary of Tupperware, manufactured high-quality, high-precision, close tolerance plastic injection moulds for houseware products. Diecraft’s major customer had always been Tupperware, which accounted for more than 90% of its turnover. In 2001, the company had sales in excess of A$23 million and was experiencing problems in meeting the targeted due dates. The case provides a detailed, step-by-step description of the order processing, engineering design and manufacturing process. It also discusses the procedures adopted for plant loading, scheduling and control. It identifies other problems which may explain its poor adherence to scheduled due dates. It brings out several key features of job shops and provides an opportunity to understand and appreciate issues relating to capacity planning, developing quotes for delivery and the detailed workings of the shop. 

Rejuvenation of Amal Products Limited

Sunil Kumar Maheshwari & Vilas Kulkarni

Amal Products Ltd (APL) was a company situated in the southern part of Gujarat manufacturing intermediate dyes and specialty chemicals, mainly for the textile market. The company incurred losses in 1998 due to the recession in the textile industry and fierce competition from Chinese manufacturers as well as local manufacturers who sold their products at much lower rates than APL. In response to the competition APL went for cost reduction and offered voluntary retirement scheme (VRS) to its employees as one of the measures to reduce cost. 51 out of 264 employees opted for VRS. The case explains the process of VRS adopted by the company and how it helped to save the costs. It highlights the role of the human resource department in the successful implementation of VRS and the role of line managers. It explains how a VRS should be handled so that the survivors remain productive. It also mentions the role of various stakeholders in the implementation of VRS. The company has reported profits in 2002. 

Computime, Limited: China's Boom Times Cause Growing Pains

Bee-Ling Chua, Michael N. Young & Xi Zou

Computime Ltd, a China-based family business, was forced to restructure and rationalize its chain of command due to rapid growth. By 2003, Computime had been able to leverage the low cost and manufacturing prowess of China-based businesses to become one of the world's largest Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM). Yet, the company was facing growing pains, as its simple organizational structure began to run into coordination and control problems. This case outlines the obstacles and decisions facing the CEO, Bernard AuYang as he attempted to navigate the organization through this turbulent time. Bernard was hoping to keep the company on its growth trajectory and he was convinced that Computime’s functional organization structure must be transformed into a multidivisional structure with decentralized business units. In this manner the institutional structure within the organization would be better aligned with the more rational institutional environment that the organization was facing. This case illustrates the obstacles which the CEO must overcome to make see his goals to fruition. Specifically, it emphasizes how he drew the restructuring plan and sought support from the cautious board members and other organization members who were resisting change. It also looks at issues of leadership and human resource management during organizational change.

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