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Risk Assessment and Management Assignment | Homework Help

Financial risk refers to the possibility of variability in returns, that is, losing money on an investment or business venture. This essay seeks to compare and contrast the different risk exposures and risk management practices in three markets operating globally; Channel Four Television Corporation, Marks and Spencer Group PLC, and Altria Group Inc. Channel Four Television Corporation (Channel 4) is a television broadcasting company founded in 1982 and headquartered in London, United Kingdom (U.K.). The company is publicly owned and not for profit serving customers in the U.K. and worldwide. Channel 4 portfolio consists of services such as feature film production, digital channels, and video-on-demand services to television.

Marks and Spencer Group PLC (M&S) is a retail company founded in 1884 and headquartered in London, UK. M&S engages in the retail of foods, clothes, and home products both in brick-and-mortar stores and online. Its operations are primarily based in the U.K. and also engages in international markets. The U.K. segment entails the U.K. retail business and franchise operations. M&S has approximately 910 UK stores incorporating 220 company-owned and 350 franchised food stores. The international section consists of M&S-owned businesses worldwide, such as in Europe and Asia. M&S has over 1400 stores worldwide located in 57 different countries.  Altria Group Inc (Altria) is a holding company founded in 1985 and headquartered in Richmond, Virginia. Altria owns three premier tobacco companies in the United States; Philip Morris USA, U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Company, and John Middleton. Altria’s subsidiaries manufacture some of the world’s renowned cigarette brands such as Marlboro, Copenhagen, Skoal, and Black &​ Mild. Altria’s portfolio also extends into the wine category as it holds an interest in Ste. Michelle Wine Estates. Altria also has an economic interest in A.B. InBev, Cronos Group, and JUUL Labs.

Risks Exposure

Classification of Risks

Risks can be classified into four major categories; strategic, operational, financial, regulatory, reputational, and legal risks. Strategic risks entail the potential impact of management decisions regarding the objectives of a company. Operational risks refer to the impact of the breakdown of internal systems on business operations. Financial risks entail a business’s ability to manage debt and fulfill its financial obligation to continue as a going concern. Financial risks arise due to market instabilities or interest rates and consist of interest risk, credit risk, market risk, and liquidity risk. Regulatory risk refers to the risk that changes in laws and regulations will impact business operations.  Reputational risk entails the risk that a business’s brand loyalty and the image will be damaged, primarily due to product failure and negative reviews. Legal risks arise from uncertainty exemplified by litigations.

Channel Four Television Corporation

Channel 4 operational risks include the emergence of new technology and digital services, which has led to the PSB landscape fragmentation. Today almost 50% of U.K. homes have Smart T.V.s, while one-third of young adults aged 16 to 34 have a smart box or smart stick. The shift of consumer preference to digital streaming is indicated by figures where 60% of U.K. homes have Pay T.V., and 50% have at least one Subscription Video on Demand (SVOD). SVOD allows users to consume content at a flat rate per month with no ads between shows. Types of SVOD include Sky, Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and Hulu. Table 1.0 shows the number of Netflix U.K. users from 2016 to 2020.

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The new technology is a risk to Channel 4 PSB as they lose more consumers to the SVODs. Channel 4 financial risk is the fall of advertising revenues, their primary source of funding. Subscription revenue has overtaken advertising revenues as the largest source of funding for the T.V. sector due to changes in viewing behavior and broadcast business models (The future of Channel 4 in a changing market environment, 2016). In 2020, Channel 4 generated 772 million pounds in T.V. advertising and sponsorship revenue representing a 2.4% decline from 791 million pounds in 2018. Linear advertising revenue declined in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, which disrupted the industry.  Channel 4 has historically catered for young adults aged 18 to 24; thus, the shift of the population to digital T.V. also contributes to the slowing growth in linear ad revenue.

Marks and Spencer Group PLC

Mark and Spenser’s (M & M&S) operational risk entails the business’s failure to effectively and rapidly respond to the pressures of an increasingly competitive and changing retail environment. This is coupled with the adverse effects of Covid-19, which have impacted customer experience, business performance, and operational efficiency. Covid19 has continued to have a devastating effect on the trading performance in the U.K. retail market, which is the company’s largest market accounting for 89% of M&S sales. The operational risks also cover the surplus stock resulting from the lockdown of the stores. The trading restrictions during lockdown consequence is the complexity of cash management as they reduce cash generation

M&S financial risks emanate from reduced trading activities resulting in reduced revenues. M&S closed 600 stores during the Covid-19 pandemic resulting in a loss of 87.6 million pounds (O’Connell, 2020). Table 3.0 shows the Marks and Spencer Group’s annual revenue from 2016 to 2020. Brexit further highlights the financial risk due to the potential effect of currency fluctuations, bond rates, changes in credit regulation, and the extent of U.K. government support of credit markets. Besides, the financial risks also entail the inability to maintain funds to meet business needs and make payments on debts to ensure its viability. The regulatory risks regarding Brexit entail the inability to respond to a post Brexit environment rapidly. The potential regulatory risks include operational cost and intricacy due to the restrictions on goods, especially Great Britain and Northern Ireland, due to strict border controls (Marks & Spencer Grp: Annual Financial Report, 2020). Brexit also affects import and export duties, labor markets, and increased entanglement and cost in international operations, including franchises. M&S’s reputational risks arise due to failure to prevent or respond to a food safety report, a move that could impact customer confidence in the brand. Food safety and integrity is paramount in food retailers due to potential risk to customer health and brand loyalty.

Altria Group Inc

Altria’s key regulatory risks entail increased government regulation on cigarette marketing and sales. Annually more than 7 million people die prematurely as a result of tobacco consumption. Consequently, the U.S. spends approximately 2 trillion in healthcare costs and lowered productivity. This triggered Congress to pass the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act in 2009. The act gave the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) full authority to regulate tobacco products’ manufacture, marketing, and sale. The FDA had the authority to regulate both current and new tobacco products. The regulatory change includes the Family Tobacco Control Act to block tobacco sales to youth and regulate tobacco product marketing due to nicotine’s harmful effect. The regulatory risk incorporates the reduction in cigarette sales in recent years and subsequently Altria’s income. Altria’s strategic risks changes in consumer behavior. The nicotine industry has experienced dramatic changes in recent years as consumers shift to e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products (Edgecliffe-Johnson, Henderson, Platt, & Fontanella-Khan, 2019). E-cigarettes and heated tobacco products contain fewer chemicals thus are less harmful and provide competition to combustible cigarettes regarding the market size.

Altria’s positive brand image leads to the company pricing its products as premium due to its reputation for quality. Marlboro cigarettes and Copenhagen smokeless tobacco are deemed high quality; thus, customers stay loyal. Altria’s reputational risk occurs when there is a flaw in cigarette manufacture that threatens customer trust (Maloney, 2017). In 2017, Altria recalled some of its smokeless tobacco products, including key brands such as Copenhagen and Skoal, due to customer complaints. The flaw was the inclusion of foreign metal objects in the containers, some of which had sharp edges. The recall damaged Altria’s customer opinion regarding their products, thus damaging their reputation. Table 2.0 shows the number of e-cigarettes adult users in the U.S. from 2014 to 2018.


Response to Risk Exposure

Risk management refers to identifying, analyzing, and mitigating random variability in investment decisions. Risk management is the pillar of prudent financial institution practices as it determines a company’s success or failure in mitigating risks. Each company has different responses to its risk exposure depending on the significance and consequence of the risks. The model most favored is the risk map that analyses the likelihood of occurring, thus mapping the risks as either high, medium, or low. The response of risk exposure is thus based on the degree of likelihood.

Channel Four Television Corporation

Channel 4 risk management is encompassed in the new corporate strategy Future4, which is projected to accelerate the firm’s transition to the digital world by placing a renewed focus on its streaming services. Channel 4 diversification into the streaming services sector seeks to consolidate its consumer base and improve revenue (Southern, 2019). Channel 4 launched an advertising-based video-on-demand service. In 2019, All 4 had 18 million registered users. The users can be more effectively monetized through subscriptions than linear ads by making existing content available for a small charge which serves as additional revenue. The diversification of revenue to digital services improves the commercial sustainability of the PSB.

In 2019, digital revenues grew by 18% to £163m, representing 17% of Channel 4’s overall revenues. Besides, digital views on All 4 grew by 9% to a total of 995 million (Oakes, 2020). Channel 4 commercial strategy also aims at growing views and revenue on the digital platform with a greater focus on content that will deliver long-term digital viewing growth. The risk management strategy is through strategic partnerships that will enable the company to compete more effectively. The company aims to forge new alliances to provide an array of content to audiences and collaborate on the production, distribution, and advertising of content. Channel 4 digital service has thus licensed content from media brands such as Vice and Adult Swim. This aims to beef up its content aimed at a specific population such as young adult viewers to increase viewership and revenue.

Marks and Spencer Group PLC

M&S critical risk management strategy revolves around the need to generate cash inflows by circumventing the lockdown restrictions. M&S launched its 1.5 billion pounds partnership with Ocado delivery hence gaining access to the Ocado Smart Platform (McDonald, 2020). The platform gives a customer access to M&S branded goods. The adoption of e-commerce is due to the increased online shopping habits brought about by restricted movements into shops. M&S is also planning on the extension of the online service to clothing and home products to handle the supply chain and inventory impacts of the pandemic. Besides, M&S is planning to incorporate discipline around cost, availability, broadening customer appeal, and pricing structure.

M&S risk response to its liquidity and funding risk includes using the committed facilities available to the firm, such as the 1.1-billion-pound revolving credit facility. Besides, the firm has taken measures to manage cash and liquidity by freezing discretionary funds, a significant reduction in capital spending, dividend deferral, and temporary furlough of employees. These risk management strategies are bound to improve control overspending. The firm also depends on the U.K. government’s Covid Corporate Financing Facility (CCFF) scheme and other government support measures. M&S is also reviewing its credit risk and limits to be at par with the firm’s risk level and treasure policy.

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M&S is working with the U.K. government and industry bodies such as the U.K. Border Development Group, which has access to various agencies such as Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), H.M. Revenue and Customs (HMRC), and the Food Standards Agency (FSA). M&S presents its views seeking support and operational planning since its business occurs in different countries. M&S also undertakes risk assessments to plan for operational changes they require. M&S mitigates food safety risks by enacting standards in manufacturing, stores, support center, and supply chain. Besides, the firm has implemented store and supplier audit programs. The programs entail unplanned visits and raw material testing, which is performed remotely. M&S is also monitoring the quality of food and customer complaints to mitigate the safety risks.

Altria Group Inc

Altria’s highest risks are consumer preference from combustible cigarettes to e-cigarettes and changes in law, both of which affect sales and operations. Altria’s response to the risk exposure is the implementation of the diversification growth strategy. Altria diversified into various sectors such as e-cigarettes and heated tobacco to mitigate its customers’ risk. Altria’s diversified its portfolio through acquisitions. In 2018, Altria purchased a 35% stake in JUUL Labs for 12.8 billion dollars to recoup income lost due to consumer change. At the time, JUUL Labs held a 75% market share of U.S. e-cigarettes.

In addition, Altria established an agreement with Phillip Morris International (PMI) that guaranteed Altria exclusive rights to sell PMI e-cigarettes and heated tobacco in the U.S. In 2019, the FDA approved the sale of PMI’s iQOS heated tobacco as a modified risk tobacco product distributed by Altria, expanding its portfolio. Altria regulatory risks affecting the manufacture and marketing of combustible cigarettes lead to investment in different sectors such as the cannabis and beer industry. Altria acquired a 45% stake in Canadian cannabis firm Cronos for $1.8 billion and has a 17% stake in the multinational drink and brewing beer company, A.B. InBev, based in Belgium (Caplinger, 2017). The diversification into different sectors mitigates the risk of exposure to American laws regarding cigarettes. Altria’s lowest risk is the reputation risk associated with the recall. The company’s response to the risk was transparency in handling the defective products to maintain customer loyalty. The company accepted the liability on the defective items, thus refunded any purchase on the recalled products and notified the FDA of the recall. Altria also investigated the origin of the defective products and worked with wholesalers and retailers to remove the shelves’ batch.

Communication of Risk to Stakeholders

Stakeholders refer to any party that has an interest in an organization and the outcome of its actions. The primary stakeholders in a typical corporation include; investors, employees, customers, suppliers, community, and government. Communication of risks is an essential tool for disseminating information and gaining insight into a risk mitigation decision (Jarrad, 2019). The information relayed allows stakeholders to make informed conclusions regarding the impact of the decisions. Risk communication also explains the chance of a risk playing out a certain way and the business impact regarding the scenario. Each company communicates its risks differently to its stakeholders.

Channel Four Television Corporation

Channel 4 has a comprehensive risk communication strategy to stakeholders through the Future4 strategy. The Future4 strategy acts as a risk communication strategy as it analyses the company’s strategic, operational and financial risks. The strategy communicates the company’s financial risks, such as the transition to digital growth over linear, and focuses on streaming services (Layton, 2020). The strategy also communicates its operational risk to content providers since Channel 4 will focus on British-made formats. The expansion of digital content is also covered in the strategy. This acts as a risk communication model to customers or viewers regarding the subscription on their streaming service, the All 4. Channel 4 also calls press releases to communicate its risks to its stakeholders. Alex Mohan, Channel 4 chief executive officer, communicated the company’s Future4 strategy in a press release. Channel 4 also communicates its financial risks to the Office of Communication (OFCOM), which regulates its content. The company ensures the compliance of its content by regulating its shows to avoid litigation.

Marks and Spencer Group PLC

Mark and Spencer’s risk communication model to investors includes the use of annual reports and financial statements that explicitly show the rise or fall of the company stock. The annual reports are used to indicate the extent of financial risks such as credit risks due to the market’s volatility throughout the year. M&S communicates its risks to employees through inter-departmental heads in each of its core businesses. During the Covid-19 pandemic, employees were constantly in a state of doubt since government regulations for lockdown would result in job losses or furloughs (Marks & Spencer – Annual Report – Risks and opportunities, 2021). M&S communicated its operational risk through department heads, where employees were sent home on paid leave. Customer reviews in the digital world can cause heavy damage to a company’s reputation. Customer reviews originate from poor service, thus airing their frustrations in social media.  M&S has an immediate crisis response capability via the crisis management team when required on a reactive basis. Communication of risks is done through press releases and feedback on its social media sites and websites.

In addition, M & M&S provides mandatory induction briefings and annual training to employees on key regulations and customer handling.  A dedicated customer care contact center offers insight and analysis of live social media issues filtering M & M&S reviews. Communication of risks to suppliers and the community is entwined since it involves respect of human rights. The company publishes details of human rights regarding the supply chain and the details of response and resolution (Song & Wen, 2020). M&S commits to source responsibly and make sure suppliers respect human rights, promote decent working conditions and improve sustainability. The communication is transparent as the documents are open to the public domain.

Altria Group Inc

Altria Group Inc’s risk communication to customers is based on the possibility of defective items. A company is responsible to customers through the production of quality goods free from harmful ingredients. Altria’s risk communication to customers can be evaluated through the use of defective smokeless tobacco. Altria received complaints from eight customers regarding the presence of sharp objects in the cigarette containers; thus, there was the risk of more complaints. Altria communicated the risk exposure to its customers through timely recall and establishment of a toll-free number to arrange for returns and refunds. Altria communication to the customers was quick since there were no complaints after the recall was issued, thus creating transparency (Cleaveland, Cussins, & Weber, 2020). Customers view time lags as incompetence and as a way of protecting corporate reputation at the expense of protecting customers.

Altria communicates its strategic risks to investors through quarterly financial reports, which indicate the viability of diversification into different sectors. The quarterly reports measure the investments’ condition, whether they are profitable or serving as a liability. Atria’s 2020 quarterly report indicated that the company’s risk exposure is growing regarding its acquisition. The report indicated JUUL Labs and Cronos had not paid dividends. Besides, JUUL Labs investment was down by $8.6 billion, representing a drop of 67% in investments, while Cronos was down $536 million, representing a 31% investment reduction (Robertson, 2019). Altria also communicates its risks to the government through constant updates to the respective agencies such as the FDA. Communication is frequent since Altria requires government approval in launching new products to the market in the heavily regulated cigarette-making sector.


The common key risk associated with the three companies is financial risk regarding revenues. Channel 4 is facing challenges regarding its dropping revenue from advertising due to a drop in viewership. Channel 4 key risk is the transition to digital content creation to generate more revenue, especially in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. Altria Group Inc is also facing plummeting revenues due to stricter regulations in the manufacture, marketing, and sale of tobacco products. Marks and Spencer Group PLC has faced a reduction in revenue, especially during the lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The majority of M & M&S revenue resulted from its store sales; thus, the physical stores’ closure resulted in decreased sales and revenue. Besides, Channel 4 and Altria Group Inc’s risks also incorporate changing consumer preference. Channel 4 viewership has dropped since consumer preference changed from PSB content to SVOD, while Altria Group Inc.’s consumer preference changed to e-cigarettes and smokeless tobacco products.

The evolution of risk management in Altria Group Inc is directly proportional to its diversification strategy. The company’s future risk management will encompass regulatory and financial risks from its investments in the cannabis and alcohol sector. Besides, e-cigarettes and smokeless tobacco will bring about litigation cases regarding the emergence of vaping illness in young adults. The regulations will determine M&S’s future risk management after Brexit transitional phase is complete. The U.K.-based company diversification features E.U countries; thus, financial risks such as foreign exchange will be critical. Channel 4 future risks will evolve with its integration into digital services. Channel 4 financial risks will change from advertising revenue to subscription revenue, thus entail registered members on the platform. Channel 4 and Marks and Spencer have been hard-hit by disruption of operations during the pandemic. The companies ought to align their strategies to avert business shutdown due to limitations in physical movement.

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