Frontier Services Group: Building a Pan-African Logistics Provider (A) Net Present Value (NPV) / MBA Resources

Introduction to Net Present Value (NPV) - What is Net Present Value (NPV) ? How it impacts financial decisions regarding project management?

NPV solution for Frontier Services Group: Building a Pan-African Logistics Provider (A) case study

At Oak Spring University, we provide corporate level professional Net Present Value (NPV) case study solution. Frontier Services Group: Building a Pan-African Logistics Provider (A) case study is a Harvard Business School (HBR) case study written by Hau L. Lee, Laurent De Clara. The Frontier Services Group: Building a Pan-African Logistics Provider (A) (referred as “Fsg Logistics” from here on) case study provides evaluation & decision scenario in field of Strategy & Execution. It also touches upon business topics such as - Value proposition, Emerging markets, Growth strategy, Innovation, Marketing, Supply chain.

The net present value (NPV) of an investment proposal is the present value of the proposal’s net cash flows less the proposal’s initial cash outflow. If a project’s NPV is greater than or equal to zero, the project should be accepted.

NPV = Present Value of Future Cash Flows LESS Project’s Initial Investment

Case Description of Frontier Services Group: Building a Pan-African Logistics Provider (A) Case Study

In June 2015, Peter Phillips, Chief Operating Officer of Frontier Services Group (FSG), was preparing an update for the board on how operations would support the company's new strategy. Given the ongoing decline in the price of oil and the extractive industries, the outlook had changed for FSG. His aim was to steer a new course to becoming the leading pan-African logistics provider. Founded in March 2014 by Erik Prince, a former U.S. Navy Seal and ex-CEO of Blackwater, a private security firm, FSG was a logistics and transportation company listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, with a market capitalization in excess of $200 million. Headquartered in Nairobi, Kenya, the company employed more than 340 staff in its head office and regional subsidiaries in Hong Kong, Beijing, Dubai, and Malta. In addition to traditional logistics solutions like transporting personnel, materials, supplies, and humanitarian aid, FSG provided civil engineering and support services such as in-house construction, facilities management, and workforce accommodation. Its mission was to build and maintain the infrastructure, installations and platforms its client organizations required to operate in Africa. Although the new approach would open up significant growth opportunities, a number of operational challenges remained. The lack of trained and skilled labor in Africa, coupled with the limited competence of the logistics sector would, if not addressed, impede the future growth of the company. The case traces the evolution of FSG since its inception in 2014 as a Kenyan air charter and freight services company. It offers an overview of the company's recent development and current strategy, notably how it handles the logistics needs of customers across the vast and very diverse African continent.

Case Authors : Hau L. Lee, Laurent De Clara

Topic : Strategy & Execution

Related Areas : Emerging markets, Growth strategy, Innovation, Marketing, Supply chain

Calculating Net Present Value (NPV) at 6% for Frontier Services Group: Building a Pan-African Logistics Provider (A) Case Study

Years              Cash Flow     Net Cash Flow     Cumulative    
Cash Flow
Discount Rate
@ 6 %
Cash Flows
Year 0 (10011775) -10011775 - -
Year 1 3459898 -6551877 3459898 0.9434 3264055
Year 2 3975964 -2575913 7435862 0.89 3538594
Year 3 3969133 1393220 11404995 0.8396 3332561
Year 4 3230054 4623274 14635049 0.7921 2558505
TOTAL 14635049 12693714

The Net Present Value at 6% discount rate is 2681939

In isolation the NPV number doesn't mean much but put in right context then it is one of the best method to evaluate project returns. In this article we will cover -

Different methods of capital budgeting

What is NPV & Formula of NPV,
How it is calculated,
How to use NPV number for project evaluation, and
Scenario Planning given risks and management priorities.

Capital Budgeting Approaches

Methods of Capital Budgeting

There are four types of capital budgeting techniques that are widely used in the corporate world –

1. Profitability Index
2. Net Present Value
3. Internal Rate of Return
4. Payback Period

Apart from the Payback period method which is an additive method, rest of the methods are based on Discounted Cash Flow technique. Even though cash flow can be calculated based on the nature of the project, for the simplicity of the article we are assuming that all the expected cash flows are realized at the end of the year.

Discounted Cash Flow approaches provide a more objective basis for evaluating and selecting investment projects. They take into consideration both –

1. Magnitude of both incoming and outgoing cash flows – Projects can be capital intensive, time intensive, or both. Fsg Logistics shareholders have preference for diversified projects investment rather than prospective high income from a single capital intensive project.
2. Timing of the expected cash flows – stockholders of Fsg Logistics have higher preference for cash returns over 4-5 years rather than 10-15 years given the nature of the volatility in the industry.

Formula and Steps to Calculate Net Present Value (NPV) of Frontier Services Group: Building a Pan-African Logistics Provider (A)

NPV = Net Cash In Flowt1 / (1+r)t1 + Net Cash In Flowt2 / (1+r)t2 + … Net Cash In Flowtn / (1+r)tn
Less Net Cash Out Flowt0 / (1+r)t0

Where t = time period, in this case year 1, year 2 and so on.
r = discount rate or return that could be earned using other safe proposition such as fixed deposit or treasury bond rate. Net Cash In Flow – What the firm will get each year.
Net Cash Out Flow – What the firm needs to invest initially in the project.

Step 1 – Understand the nature of the project and calculate cash flow for each year.
Step 2 – Discount those cash flow based on the discount rate.
Step 3 – Add all the discounted cash flow.
Step 4 – Selection of the project

Why Strategy & Execution Managers need to know Financial Tools such as Net Present Value (NPV)?

In our daily workplace we often come across people and colleagues who are just focused on their core competency and targets they have to deliver. For example marketing managers at Fsg Logistics often design programs whose objective is to drive brand awareness and customer reach. But how that 30 point increase in brand awareness or 10 point increase in customer touch points will result into shareholders’ value is not specified.

To overcome such scenarios managers at Fsg Logistics needs to not only know the financial aspect of project management but also needs to have tools to integrate them into part of the project development and monitoring plan.

Calculating Net Present Value (NPV) at 15%

After working through various assumptions we reached a conclusion that risk is far higher than 6%. In a reasonably stable industry with weak competition - 15% discount rate can be a good benchmark.

Years              Cash Flow     Net Cash Flow     Cumulative    
Cash Flow
Discount Rate
@ 15 %
Cash Flows
Year 0 (10011775) -10011775 - -
Year 1 3459898 -6551877 3459898 0.8696 3008607
Year 2 3975964 -2575913 7435862 0.7561 3006400
Year 3 3969133 1393220 11404995 0.6575 2609769
Year 4 3230054 4623274 14635049 0.5718 1846794
TOTAL 10471570

The Net NPV after 4 years is 459795

(10471570 - 10011775 )

Calculating Net Present Value (NPV) at 20%

If the risk component is high in the industry then we should go for a higher hurdle rate / discount rate of 20%.

Years              Cash Flow     Net Cash Flow     Cumulative    
Cash Flow
Discount Rate
@ 20 %
Cash Flows
Year 0 (10011775) -10011775 - -
Year 1 3459898 -6551877 3459898 0.8333 2883248
Year 2 3975964 -2575913 7435862 0.6944 2761086
Year 3 3969133 1393220 11404995 0.5787 2296952
Year 4 3230054 4623274 14635049 0.4823 1557704
TOTAL 9498990

The Net NPV after 4 years is -512785

At 20% discount rate the NPV is negative (9498990 - 10011775 ) so ideally we can't select the project if macro and micro factors don't allow financial managers of Fsg Logistics to discount cash flow at lower discount rates such as 15%.

Acceptance Criteria of a Project based on NPV

Simplest Approach – If the investment project of Fsg Logistics has a NPV value higher than Zero then finance managers at Fsg Logistics can ACCEPT the project, otherwise they can reject the project. This means that project will deliver higher returns over the period of time than any alternate investment strategy.

In theory if the required rate of return or discount rate is chosen correctly by finance managers at Fsg Logistics, then the stock price of the Fsg Logistics should change by same amount of the NPV. In real world we know that share price also reflects various other factors that can be related to both macro and micro environment.

In the same vein – accepting the project with zero NPV should result in stagnant share price. Finance managers use discount rates as a measure of risk components in the project execution process.

Sensitivity Analysis

Project selection is often a far more complex decision than just choosing it based on the NPV number. Finance managers at Fsg Logistics should conduct a sensitivity analysis to better understand not only the inherent risk of the projects but also how those risks can be either factored in or mitigated during the project execution. Sensitivity analysis helps in –

What are the key aspects of the projects that need to be monitored, refined, and retuned for continuous delivery of projected cash flows.

Understanding of risks involved in the project.

What can impact the cash flow of the project.

What are the uncertainties surrounding the project Initial Cash Outlay (ICO’s). ICO’s often have several different components such as land, machinery, building, and other equipment.

What will be a multi year spillover effect of various taxation regulations.

Some of the assumptions while using the Discounted Cash Flow Methods –

Projects are assumed to be Mutually Exclusive – This is seldom the came in modern day giant organizations where projects are often inter-related and rejecting a project solely based on NPV can result in sunk cost from a related project.

Independent projects have independent cash flows – As explained in the marketing project – though the project may look independent but in reality it is not as the brand awareness project can be closely associated with the spending on sales promotions and product specific advertising.

References & Further Readings

Hau L. Lee, Laurent De Clara (2018), "Frontier Services Group: Building a Pan-African Logistics Provider (A) Harvard Business Review Case Study. Published by HBR Publications.