Helping to ensure the successful privatisation of a FTSE100 business
What did it take to help ensure the success of one of the UK’s most recent privatisations? Information – masses of it – gathered, audited and organised in the right way so Royal Mail could tell a clear and vivid story with great confidence to potential investors, employees, the media – to all concerned. The privatisation would simply not have succeeded without this information. It was a key foundation. What, in turn, did this take? Trusted experts working quickly, collaboratively, tirelessly by Royal Mail’s side, organising and delivering critical streams of work from the early stages in the run up to privatisation, through to execution and beyond.
Berkeley’s involvement transformed our ability to deliver this hugely challenging programme. We would not have succeeded without their support.”
Director of Information Management, Royal Mail
Berkeley were called in to help with the early stages of Royal Mail’s privatisation. We had worked with our client on various projects for at least four years and when they were handed the huge responsibility covering a major aspect of the privatisation they turned to us to provide critical support.
At this point in the process, Royal Mail was in the early days of formulating its privatisation plan, exploring and setting down how best to privatise an organisation of such scale and complexity – one which handles billions of items for businesses and individuals every year.
It was vital Royal Mail had the right management information and reporting processes in place to tell a consistent and credible story to the government, investors, regulators, employees, the media – all stakeholders. To this end it needed not only to have the right raw information to tell the story but also an effective way of systematically organising and presenting it. This was the focus of our initial support.
We began by looking at the entire range of data across the organisation. It was inevitably complex and varied, involving over 200 separate information artefacts.
Our task at this stage was primarily to help Royal Mail bring all the information together to create a full, consistent, and rich picture of the organisation, so that clear and definitive answers to any number of pre-privatisation questions could be given by the Chief Executive and her senior leadership team. It was essentially about managing and mitigating risk around the information at the heart of the privatisation.
This level of pre-IPO information gathering, auditing and organising is an incredibly complicated and time-consuming yet critical task that few businesses are equipped to do on their own. After all, privatisations are one-off events and it makes a great deal of sense to bring in outside help from independent experts. Berkeley built and led a team of Royal Mail and external resources to complete this critical task.
Following the information audit, we also helped pull together all the different projects involved in validating the future business plan into a single programme of work. It involved coordinating planning across five workstreams, ten internal teams, and four external suppliers. This was another key aspect of preparing the ground for success – ensuring that the various projects to validate the five-year business plan were all scoped correctly and set up for success.
One of these key projects focused on further standardising methods for reporting mail volumes across the organisation. This was naturally a key area of interest for everyone involved and interested in the privatisation. Again, the extent and complexity of information surrounding this one area was vast. We brought together a project team of all concerned - from operations to finance to commercial teams, from senior leaders inside the organisation to outside specialists.
We helped to bring real detail, consistent definitions and shared understanding and agreement so that critical questions could be answered clearly and confidently – with a degree of accuracy that had never been achieved before.”
Our other major area of work covered preparing for and helping the executive team answer all the non-financial questions in the run up to the execution of the IPO – from coordinating different parts of the business through a common process, to feeding definitive data into the prospectus, and to helping Royal Mail respond to specific questions from various parties right up to the last minute before the IPO.
We’re proud to have played an instrumental part in helping ensure the success of such a big and complex privatisation. It was quite a curve of success – from managing the technical information audit surrounding the event, to creating the programme plan for validating the business plan, answering questions around the most crucial business metrics, and working with the executive team on prospectus information right up to the last minute.
Along the way, we fostered greater understanding and effectiveness across the business, establishing definitive answers to critical questions founded on well-organised and defined information.
Ultimately, we helped craft and tell the story of Royal Mail’s future as a listed company.”
Through the course of our work, we also helped bring different parts of the organisation together around shared answers and understanding. There was a common set of rigorous data they could all buy into, which in turn helped encourage closer working relationships across the business.
Indeed, in many of our projects for large organisations, one of the key differences we deliver is to consciously bring together cross-directorate teams and get them to work well to deliver programmes – forging longer lasting links that continue well beyond the delivery of the programmes themselves.
As well as closer working relationships, we also left a legacy of improved management information. We scoped a programme of projects for Royal Mail to run themselves to fix problems and embed changes. These projects ranged from IT system improvements to organisational changes to create a centralised information management capability. These projects then went on to be successfully delivered by the client team.