Financial System Security: Harshad Mehta and the Billion-Dollar Scam 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 Financial System Security: Harshad Mehta and the Billion-Dollar Scam case study

At Oak Spring University, we provide corporate level professional Net Present Value (NPV) case study solution. Financial System Security: Harshad Mehta and the Billion-Dollar Scam case study is a Harvard Business School (HBR) case study written by Preeti Goyal, Sanjay Dhamija. The Financial System Security: Harshad Mehta and the Billion-Dollar Scam (referred as “Scam Mehta” from here on) case study provides evaluation & decision scenario in field of Finance & Accounting. It also touches upon business topics such as - Value proposition, Financial markets.

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 Financial System Security: Harshad Mehta and the Billion-Dollar Scam Case Study

The case is about the banking system and the financial markets scam with Harshad Mehta as the chief architect. Mehta was able to successfully exploit the deficiencies in the microstructure of the Indian financial system to siphon money from the banking system to the financial markets. With this money he manipulated the Indian capital markets causing a phenomenal increase in stock prices. When the scam was exposed, the capital markets crashed and thousands of investors lost their life savings; it also impacted several domestic and foreign banks operating in India.

Case Authors : Preeti Goyal, Sanjay Dhamija

Topic : Finance & Accounting

Related Areas : Financial markets

Calculating Net Present Value (NPV) at 6% for Financial System Security: Harshad Mehta and the Billion-Dollar Scam Case Study

Years              Cash Flow     Net Cash Flow     Cumulative    
Cash Flow
Discount Rate
@ 6 %
Cash Flows
Year 0 (10021393) -10021393 - -
Year 1 3456468 -6564925 3456468 0.9434 3260819
Year 2 3966364 -2598561 7422832 0.89 3530050
Year 3 3962956 1364395 11385788 0.8396 3327374
Year 4 3242529 4606924 14628317 0.7921 2568387
TOTAL 14628317 12686630

The Net Present Value at 6% discount rate is 2665237

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. Scam Mehta 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 Scam Mehta 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 Financial System Security: Harshad Mehta and the Billion-Dollar Scam

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 Finance & Accounting 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 Scam Mehta 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 Scam Mehta 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 (10021393) -10021393 - -
Year 1 3456468 -6564925 3456468 0.8696 3005624
Year 2 3966364 -2598561 7422832 0.7561 2999141
Year 3 3962956 1364395 11385788 0.6575 2605708
Year 4 3242529 4606924 14628317 0.5718 1853926
TOTAL 10464400

The Net NPV after 4 years is 443007

(10464400 - 10021393 )

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 (10021393) -10021393 - -
Year 1 3456468 -6564925 3456468 0.8333 2880390
Year 2 3966364 -2598561 7422832 0.6944 2754419
Year 3 3962956 1364395 11385788 0.5787 2293377
Year 4 3242529 4606924 14628317 0.4823 1563720
TOTAL 9491906

The Net NPV after 4 years is -529487

At 20% discount rate the NPV is negative (9491906 - 10021393 ) so ideally we can't select the project if macro and micro factors don't allow financial managers of Scam Mehta 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 Scam Mehta has a NPV value higher than Zero then finance managers at Scam Mehta 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 Scam Mehta, then the stock price of the Scam Mehta 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 Scam Mehta 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 can impact the cash flow of the project.

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

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.

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

Preeti Goyal, Sanjay Dhamija (2018), "Financial System Security: Harshad Mehta and the Billion-Dollar Scam Harvard Business Review Case Study. Published by HBR Publications.