By Kara Sherrer
This Thursday, the Owen Finance Club (OFC) hosted their first case competition of the year, the Owen Investment Banking Case Competition. It’s a chance for Owen first-year MBA and Master of Science in Finance candidates to research a recent merger and acquisition transaction based on its strategic rationale, valuation, risks, and benefits.
“(The competition) definitely helps with recruiting, to make sure (students) are able to speak intelligently about a transaction as well as to do the research necessary to perform at an internship. A lot of that also helps them to prepare for the technical side of interviewing,” said Dylan Bright, President of the Owen Finance Club.
The Case: This year’s case asked students to explain the strategic rationale for Amazon’s recent $13.7 billion acquisition of Whole Foods Market, Inc. Participants evaluated the merits of the all-cash deal structure from each firm’s perspective; they also explained whether or not a share exchange would have made more sense for either firm. Finally, students shared their perspectives on the valuation and explored the greatest risk of the transaction from the perspective of Whole Foods shareholders.
Students received the case four days in advance and could prepare up to three slides. Eight teams of three students each presented for a maximum of 15 minutes, followed by about five minutes of questions from judges.
The Judges: Nine investment banking judges from a variety of firms — Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Goldman Sachs, Houlihan Lokey, SunTrust Robinson Humphrey, and Wells Fargo Securities— evaluated participants. Their experience ranged from the associate level (1-2 years) to the managing director level (10+ years) so they could speak to students about each stage of investment banking careers. All of the judges were either Owen or Vanderbilt undergraduate alumni.
“They want to feel like they’re giving back and helping out the students, making sure they’re as prepared as they can be (for interviews),” Bright said.
The Winner: Judges rated the team of Moheb Abdelmaseeh, James Owen, and Ben Sellers as the best presentation, praising their investigation of the transaction risks and payment structure, as well as their discounted cash flow analysis. While judges do rank the top three finishers, Bright says the competition’s focus is on gaining experience.
“It’s not about winning, it’s about getting the experience and finding out what you did wrong and what you could have done better or explained more clearly,” he said. “That will only help (students) in the interview process.”
Students interested in finance are encouraged to sign up for the upcoming Corporate Finance Case Competition, to be held on November 9. The competition focuses on analyzing an individual company from the perspective of a corporate finance department.