Global Private Equity Challenge: Oxford Saïd vs Chicago Booth

Planet Earth

Last month, students from two of the world’s leading business schools took part in the first annual meeting between teams from the Oxford Saïd and Chicago Booth Schools of Business.

Dubbed the Oxford Chicago Global Private Equity Challenge, this new finance competition brought representatives from the Private Equity Institute at Oxford Saïd and the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship of Chicago Booth together for three days of discussion and case competition.

The Challenge is designed for students who are looking to develop careers in private equity and investment banking. Participants from both institutions take part in a case competition where they are tasked with assessing the potential for a leveraged buyout of a publicly listed company and compete for a cash prize.

How did the competing teams get to the “Big Dance?”

ChicagoWell, it wasn’t easy. To participate in the Challenge, Booth students had to create a team, prepare a proposal and financial model based on cases that were posted early in the fall term, and apply. From that pool of applicants, a selection of teams were asked to interview with a panel of private equity investors and academics. Following the interview process, three teams were selected to compete in the Chicago Booth semifinals. The best Booth team was sent packing for England where they went head-to-head with the top team from Oxford.

Meanwhile, Oxford students who wished to participate in the Challenge had to take part in the Bridgepoint Private Equity Challenge, which aimed to find the smartest assessment of leveraged buyout opportunities in the United Kingdom. Andreas Angelopoulos, executive director of the Private Equity Institute and program director of the Finance Lab in Oxford Saïd, then chose a team of five from more than 200 students that participated in Bridgepoint and mentored them for five weeks in the run up to the Oxford Chicago Global Private Equity Challenge.

Both teams selected for the finals received a new list of possible cases and chose one to prepare a proposal for. The Oxford team looked at Moleskine, an Italian notebook company, and put forward an investment thesis that looked at growth scenarios, marketing transformation, financing, valuation and returns. Meanwhile, the team from Chicago Booth looked at the American gym company Planet Fitness. Teams presented their final proposals to a committee comprised of Chicago Booth and Oxford alumni.

Other than the competition, what else went down at The Oxford Chicago Global Private Equity Challenge?

According to Angelopoulos, The Challenge was much more than just, well, the challenge, saying:

“The experience for the students is more than the challenge. It is a three day focused and intensive program that gives students access to the best education and network opportunities in finance and private equity, globally. Students attended an advanced acquisition finance modelling seminar, worked on a real case by Bain Capital, competed in the PE Challenge, attended the Private Equity Forum and went on a London trek; this is unique.”

global private equityThe three-day program began with Angelopoulos and Tiago Dias, corporate finance vice president of Altice, presenting a seminar on acquisition finance modelling. This was followed by a presentation of a private equity case on the LBO acquisition of TeamSystem in Italy by Luigi Bartone, director of Intermediate Capital Group; Luca Bassi, managing director of Bain Capital; Federico Leproux, CEO of TeamSystem, and Roberto Ippolito, managing partner of RiverRock. Ippolito also happened to be an alumni of Chicago Booth.

Then, after presenting their proposals to the investment committee panel, the teams had an opportunity to attend the 10th Annual Private Equity Forum in Oxford, which brought together academics and investors like Blackstone GSO, Goldman Sachs Merchant bank, Ardian, Advent and CDC Group to discuss challenges and opportunities facing the private equity sector.

What did people think of the first annual Oxford Chicago Global Private Equity Challenge?

Humphrey Battcock, managing partner of Advent International, said,

“This challenge is a good opportunity for students to take part in a close to real life exercise in private equity execution. I was pleased to be part of the panel which looked at the teams’ proposals for a buyout transaction. All the team members had clearly worked hard to produce a good product and this type of exercise should help them in seeking career opportunities in private equity.”

Oxford team member Johan Krynauw said,

“The uniqueness of this challenge is the combination of the best of the U.S. and Europe. ‘We are competing against the number one finance school in the USA, Chicago Booth, and I’m not aware of any other business schools offering these kinds of education and networking opportunities in private equity. We selected Moleskine as our buyout candidate as it has a strong brand but a lot of opportunity for further growth, both through geographic and product diversification. We have worked very hard to put together our proposal and financial model.”

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About the Author

Max Pulcini

Max Pulcini is a Philadelphia-based writer and reporter. He has an affinity for Philly sports teams, Super Smash Bros. and cured meats and cheeses. Max has written for Philadelphia-based publications such as Spirit News, Philadelphia City Paper, and Billy Penn, as well as national news outlets like The Daily Beast.

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