It was earlier reported that two US e-commerce units of Singpost, Jagged Peak and TradeGlobal, have filed for bankruptcy protection in US after an unsuccessful six-month process of finding a suitable buyer for both subsidiaries.
SingPost on Wed evening (18 Sep) said, “Under the supervision of the bankruptcy court, the U.S. subsidiaries intend to pursue the sale of all or substantially all of their assets.”
Singpost took an impairment of S$98.7 million on both units in the year up to Mar 2019, and began the process of finding a buyer for its two subsidiaries the following month. But it couldn’t secure any buyer thereafter. Temasek Holdings owns a major stake in Singpost.
It was later revealed that the two ill-fated US companies were acquired under the watch of previous Singpost CEO Wolfgang Baier. They were acquired for a total of S$253.5 million four years ago in 2015. However, they have been a drag on SingPost’s profit, causing SingPost’s market value to dive by half since Singpost acquired them. An analyst commented, “U.S. e-commerce strategy comes at a heavy price (to Singpost).”
At the time when TradeGlobal was acquired in Oct 2015, Baier said in an interview that the acquisition will turn SingPost into a global e-commerce player. “It is connecting the dots to become a digital company. We are a global player,” he told ST.
In another media interview, he said entering the US will allow SingPost to “cover two-thirds of the global e-commerce market” and position the company as “one of the global leaders in e-commerce logistics.”
Then two months later in Dec 2015, Baier abruptly tendered his resignation from SingPost due to “personal reasons” but stayed on for a few more months to help in the handover. In May 2016, it was reported that he started selling his shares in SingPost. In one sale, he sold off 2.5 million shares for about S$3.9 million in total. In Aug 2016, he joined Luxasia Pte Ltd, an Asian distributor for luxury beauty and lifestyle brands, as its Group CEO.
Baier brings many foreign talents from McKinsey into Singpost
Baier first joined SingPost as CEO (international) in Feb 2011 to oversee the development of its international wing. He was formerly a partner at the consulting company McKinsey & Co. In fact, prior to joining Singpost, he was already working with the Singapore postal service on some “initiatives” whilst he was a still a partner with McKinsey. After 8 months later in Oct 2011, Baier was appointed as overall group CEO to take full control of whole of Singpost.
It can be seen that thereafter, Baier brought in a number of “talents” from his former company McKinsey and appointed them to key positions inside Singpost. It’s not known if any locals were replaced or resigned in the process.
For example, Baier brought in a German national, Sascha Hower, to fill the position of Chief Operating Officer (COO) in Jan 2012, about 3 months after Baier became the Group CEO. Prior to joining Singpost, Hower was just a junior partner at McKinsey. He resigned in mid-2016 about the same time when Baier finally left Singpost and started selling Singpost shares. It was reported in the media that Hower left Singpost to “pursue new career opportunities overseas” after staying in Singpost for 4.5 years.
Another person who was brought into Singpost was Satyaki Banerjee. According to his LinkedIn information, he graduated from IIT Kharagpur with a Bachelor of Technology in 2005. Thereafter, he pursued and graduated with a post-graduate diploma in management from the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad in 2008.
During the time when he was pursuing his post-graduate diploma, he was an intern at McKinsey. After graduating with his post-graduate diploma, he joined McKinsey as a junior associate in 2008.
After 6 years with McKinsey, he was promoted to become its “Engagement Manager” in 2014. Thereafter, he joined Singpost as its VP Ecommerce Logistics (Delivery). He was only with Singpost for 2 years before leaving in Aug 2016 to join Baier at Luxasia Pte Ltd. Today, Banerjee is the COO of Luxasia.
Then we have Surabhi Khuteta, who got her accounting degree from the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India in 2004 and an MBA from Indian Institute of Management, Lucknow in 2008.
After she got her MBA, she joined Mckinsey as a senior associate in 2008. In 2012, she left Mckinsey for about a year to build a “social enterprise” to “support Indian elected representatives (Members of Parliament)” and “undertake grass root development in their political constituencies” in India.
In 2014, she was roped in to join Singpost as Vice President, Head of Operation Transformation. In her LinkedIn information, she said she “led the Operation Transformation team” working under the COO Hower. About half a year later after Hower left, she also left Singpost. She was with Singpost for 3 years. She now works in Germany.
Others include people like Kanika Choudhry who graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree from Delphi University in 2007.
She was with McKinsey from 2007 to 2012. In mid-2014, she was pulled into Singpost as Senior Manager before being promoted to become the Assistant Vice President (Special Projects and Analytics) in Nov 2015. She stayed still Sep 2017 before leaving Singpost. She was with Singpost for close to 3.5 years.
It appears that during the tenure of Baier as Group CEO in Singpost, he seems to have a high regard for people from McKinsey, especially those from outside of Singapore. Baier must have read the mind of Singapore’s Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing who has been calling Singapore to do more to attract global talent (‘Singapore must step up to global competition for talent: Chan Chun Sing‘).
In any case, Minister Chan should probably give Baier some kind of national awards for helping to bring in so many “global talents” into Singapore during his time with Singpost as CEO.