Merger Simulations!

Dr. George Pinteris, academic director for the Specialized Masters in Business Finance program at Fisher College of Business, wanted to try out a merger simulation with his Corporate Finance II classes. He assigned us the Wrigley-Mars merger cases to analyze. Half the class read the information to which Mars was privy, the other half Wrigley. My team and I were assigned to Mars (the buye), in the transaction. Dr. Pinteris used one lecture period as an initial discussion of the information to which both parties had access and to emphasize that there was more to this transaction than the price Mars paid to acquire Wrigley.

Source: http://store.darden.virginia.edu/

Source: http://store.darden.virginia.edu/

My group based our negotiation strategy on five factors, in addition to the price: the placement of the current target’s CEO; the plans for one of the target’s most treasured and iconic assets (Wrigley Headquarters in Chicago); the naming of the merged company; the independence of the target’s management post-merger; and the extent to which the acquirer can impose efficiency measures on the target after the merger. As the buyer, we packaged three deals with varying premia over the current share price and over the intrinsic value—an initial offer, a target offer, and a walkaway offer.

When we began negotiations, because we were the buyer, we made the first offer: a meager control premium over current market value, with a number of conditions that granted the target substantial operational independence. The target’s counteroffer was revealing: they mentioned that they wanted a more equitable share of the synergies from the merger and countered with a very high offer outside our acceptable range. We came back with a larger control premium, with a number of more restrictive terms than the initial offer. For example, we did not place the target’s CEO in as important a position and we insisted on greater efficiency measures. The target countered with $79, still intent on capturing larger portions of the synergies in the transaction, but this time they disapproved of our demotion of the target CEO. We offered to increase our price to $75 and place the target CEO on the Board of Directors. They offered to go down to $77 with the same conditions. My group did not want to increase our price, but we had reached a set of conditions with which we were very pleased. When we offered an additional board seat, the other team acted utterly taken by surprise. After about five minutes of hushed discussion in their group hunched over their own valuations in Excel, they accepted. It was a term that neither of our groups had seriously considered, but it was something that ultimately allowed us to close the deal at a price more amenable to us, the buyer.

We had begun the negotiations with the goal of getting the lowest price with terms that would preserve Wrigley’s independence. Instead, we walked away by paying $3 over our target, but the counterparty had practically given us as much as we needed to achieve synergies by ceding decision-making authority over its Chicago headquarters, over its management and employees, and general operational aspects of the business—Wrigley had practically handed us all the synergies we needed to make the deal worth it.

In Dr. Pinteris’ next lecture, we discussed our experiences in the merger. All of our negotiation experiences had been quite different, and Dr. Pinteris used this lecture to illustrate the different scenarios that play out with different zones of agreement on price and to illustrate the importance of qualitative factors in the negotiations. I thoroughly enjoyed this simulation that Dr. Pinteris set up for us—it was hands-on and engaging, and I think I learned more about M&A negotiations than if I had simply read the case and participated in the class discussion.


The North Market

One of the staples of Columbus is the North Market. The North Market is basically a farmer’s market, and a fantastic one at that. You can buy fresh salsa (AMAZING), fresh fruits, homemade chocolate, homemade bread, different cultural foods, homemade popcorn, and fresh spices.

Spices Salsa

 

I would like to touch on the salsa and spice shops. The salsa shop has a vast array of salsas, hot sauces and a few other things. The salsa is the best I have ever had. I usually like salsa with a kick, but I have taken a liking to roasted garlic and mild salsa. Both of these are very sweet and VERY good.

The spice shop is by far my favorite, though. The spice shop has a vast array of spices. Most of the spices do not contain salt which keeps them from being “diluted.”  These spices are very potent and very good. A recipe for chili I had called for 2.5 tablespoons and 1 tablespoon was more than enough. Their chili seasoning has won multiple contests. They also have extracts, peppers, sticks of cinnamon, etc. What you can buy and the combinations are almost endless.

A full list of vendors can be seen here.

I highly recommend visiting this place!


Fisher Follies Auction

Here comes the time for the Fisher Follies Auction, which marks the beginning of the Thanksgiving season. Some background information on the event: Fisher Follies Auction is organized by Fisher graduate students and aims to raise funds for Fisher students who are facing unexpected or extreme hardship. This year, the auction has received over 100 generous donations from students, faculty, and staff.

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The auction has become a hot topic for all of our MBA students who are exciting to offer a bid. To me, I am interested in “A Day with Mr. Warren Buffet.” The lucky bidder will be joining the trip to Omaha and will get to spend a day with Mr. Buffet over the spring break. Some other interesting auction items are “Prime Seating for Your Family in the Pre-commencement Exercises,” “Best Seat in the Shoe,” and an “All Expenses Paid Trip to California: SEA and C-Suites.”  I have to mentioned that one of the most exciting moments in the auction was the bidding for the California trip. Prof. Matta, our Marketing professor, will lead a team to visit Apple headquarters, have conversations with C-level executives, and tour an exclusive winery and estate. Apparently, all the bidders have done a lot of studies in terms of the bidding strategy and it ended with a historical price of $4,100 for 4 persons.

Lucky guys!

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The auction has raised over $23,500, which will be used to strengthen the Fisher community. I have to say, I’m lucky to be one of the members of the Fisher family and know I will be taken care of all the time.


MHRM Internal Case Competition

I recently participated in the MHRM Internal Case Competition here at Fisher. Before going into this experience I had no idea what to expect. The competition started early Friday morning and the entire class was presented with a “real world” HR problem from the judges (The judges are current HR professionals from companies around the region). We were then assigned break-out rooms with our group, and given 24 hours to come up with a solution and form a presentation for the judges for the following day.

I was on a team of all first-years and none of us had any previous HR work experience. My team worked really well together, though, because we were able to communicate effectively and collaborate as a group. Once we got to our break-out rooms, we spent a lot of time brainstorming ideas, organizing our thoughts, and figuring out which ideas we wanted to focus on. If I could give one piece of advice, it would be to focus in great detail on a few of your ideas or solutions, but don’t try to tackle everything. There’s simply not enough time to address everything. My group ended up staying at school pretty late into the evening (or should I say, morning) because we had so much content to fit into our short, 15-minute presentation.

We arrived back at school early Saturday morning to finish up printing our materials and slides, but actually ended up cutting it so close that we didn’t have any time to practice our presentation before we went in to present to the judges. Our presentation went really well, though, for having not ever rehearsed, and in fact, one of our group members, Erin, won an award for best speaker overall. Looking back on this experience, I am really proud of my group for jumping in with no expectations and working really hard to produce an overall great presentation. It was definitely a memorable two days and I look forward next year’s competition.

My awesome case competition team

My awesome case competition team                                (Brennan, Chip, Erin, Me)

 


Being Out & Proud at Fisher (and Columbus)!

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When searching for business schools, I was not only looking for top-notch academics, but also whether there was a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) presence on campus and in the surrounding community. It was important for me to feel safe, accepted, and share my MBA experience with other LGBT students. Fortunately, Ohio State and Columbus have one of the largest LGBT populations in the Midwest. In fact, Ohio State was ranked as one of the top 50 LGBT-friendly campuses by Campus Pride (www.campuspride.org) and Columbus earned a perfect score as a LGBT-friendly city by the Human Rights Campaign (www.hrc.org), which is America’s largest LGBT civil rights organization.

On-campus: Although most LGBT organizations are undergrad-based, they all welcome LGBT graduate students and allies. Most of these organizations meet regularly and offer informative and fun events, ranging from socials to LGBT speakers. Laverne Cox, the transgender actress who appears on “Orange is the New Black,” even spoke at our school this semester. For business students, Out in Business (www.fisheroib.com) is Fisher’s main LGBT business club. I also recently attended the Reaching Out MBA conference (www.reachingoutmba.org) in San Francisco with several of my classmates. Definitely a fantastic conference that brought together LGBT business students from all over the country and included speakers, case competitions, recruiting fairs, and social events. Highly recommended!!!

Off-campus: Not surprisingly, the LGBT “scene” in Columbus pales in comparison to much larger cities, such as New York City and San Francisco. Even so, it is still very vibrant and active! There is something for everyone, ranging from nightlife in and around downtown Columbus to support and wellness organizations, such as Stonewall Columbus (www.stonewallcolumbus.org), and musical groups, such as the Columbus Gay Men’s Chorus (www.columbusgaymenschorus.com). If you are ever looking to experience LGBT outside of the area, Columbus is in close proximity to other major cities, including Chicago, Detroit, Cincinnati, and Cleveland.

So whomever you may be, Fisher and Columbus is definitely a welcoming LGBT environment! As a business student, now you just have to find the time to see all that it has to offer, but that’s for another post ;)


I’m THANKFUL for…

Being back home this past weekend for Thanksgiving Break got me thinking about what I am thankful for. I am incredibly fortunate to be able to say that there is so much I am thankful for, and that I have been very blessed throughout my life. So much has changed in just the past year alone though. I got my rescue dog (Riggs), bought my first home, and began the Fisher MHRM program and my position as the MHRM Ambassador.

Deciding to attend the Fisher MHRM program was one of the best decisions and investments I have made for myself. The path I took to get to where I am today was not always clear, but I am so happy with where it led me. The MHRM program has a rather diverse student population with different cultures, educational backgrounds, work experiences, and more. Prior to beginning the MHRM program I had received an undergraduate degree in Secondary Education and a graduate degree in Higher Education Administration. It was not until my first Masters program and two years of full-time work after that I learned more about the different HR functions and fell in love with it!

When the time felt right, I started researching different programs, and it did not take long for me to realize how Fisher’s program is set apart from several of the other programs. I firmly believe that people need to find programs and schools that are a good fit for them, and that are aligned with their goals and aspirations. Nonetheless, Fisher’s MHRM faculty and staff have a passion for what they do and take a sincere interest in their students.

I didn’t have a HR background or business background prior to beginning the MHRM program, so I love that the program provides a business acumen and HR Generalist’s perspective. Plus, I think the curriculum is positioned nicely and helps create a foundation to build upon throughout one’s time in the program. The faculty also do a great job at breaking content down so that it is digestible, but if students have questions or concerns along the way, faculty and peers are more than willing to provide assistance!

In addition to the distinguished curriculum and faculty, the Fisher staff is extremely supportive. The Graduate Programs Office staff and the Career Management staff go above and beyond to ensure that students have the necessary resources to succeed. They are readily available, approachable, and care about you and how they can help.

I’m also super thankful for how inviting the program is. I was a little nervous before starting the program, not only about the curriculum, but also about the culture that would exist within the business school. I was happy to find that people are overwhelmingly supportive, and that peers are willing and able to help one another and encourage one another. I love that the class size is typically 45-50 students because that allows us to get to know each other, both inside and outside of the class.

So, as I think about the past year and where I am at in life, I think choosing to pursue the MHRM program at Fisher has definitely impacted me for the better. I can honestly say that it was a great decision and that I am thankful for the knowledge, skills, experiences, and friendships the program has provided thus far.

Did I mention how thankful I am for all the free food at Fisher too?!?

Did I mention how thankful I am for all the free food at Fisher too?!?

 


Experience the World through Columbus

International exposure and work experience is becoming hugely important in the business world. This year I had the pleasure of attending the Columbus International Festival. I’m a member of the Fisher Global Business Association and we used the festival as an opportunity to come together and have a fun international experience.

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A small group of us hit up the Ohio State Fairgrounds to see what the rave was all about. Thankfully it was indoors; if you don’t already know about Ohio it starts to get a little chilly in November. Obviously from the start of the festival we were pretty focused on FOOD, who doesn’t love food. I settled on some bubble tea and Chinese, but I couldn’t help but take a picture of this humungous pretzel.

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Throughout the few hours we were there, there was a stage hosting various styles of dances from all over the world. The variety was great, and ever better, some acts featured some cute kids doing their best to impress the audience. I captured some good ole bag pipe action.

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Outside of the food and performances, there were various booths ran by different international organizations from Columbus and a lot of shops with cool cultural knick knacks. Columbus is always hosting cool festivals that present you with new food and cultures that you may not have had the opportunity to confront otherwise. There’s a whole world out there, go experience it!

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MAcc Gives Back

Twice each year, the MAcc program gets together to do a day of service in the greater Columbus community. Community service is something that had a large impact on my undergraduate experience, and so I was excited to participate in MAcc Gives Back. My group’s project site was a Habitat for Humanity ReStore, which is a nonprofit home improvement store and donation center. After a brief introduction to the store and its layout, we got to work. We split up into three smaller groups, and my group worked to reorganize and price rugs that were recently donated.

It was fun to work as a team to figure out the best way to move and measure some sizable rugs. In the middle of our project, a husband and wife entered the store and asked us to help them find a rug to put in their new infant’s nursery. We helped them pick out the softest and best-sized rug for her needs. It was nice to talk to customers in the store and be able to help them find the perfect item at a great price!

After finishing organizing the rugs, we cleaned and organized kitchen appliances until it was time to leave. Then we met up with other MAcc volunteers at the Varsity Club, the sports bar across the street from Fisher. It was very nice to volunteer in the community and share a Friday afternoon with my fellow MAcc students, faculty, and staff!

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Habitat Group

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Hanging out at Varsity Club

 


NYC Financial Services Trip

At the end of October, Nancy Gilbertsen, a director in the Office of Career Management at Fisher, organized a trip to New York City with the purpose of connecting Fisher graduate and undergraduate students with professionals and Ohio State alumni working in financial services such as investment banking and asset management. Around twenty Buckeyes took advantage of this opportunity, with ten of those students coming from the graduate programs at Fisher.

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We started our trip with a tour of Bloomberg, which impressed all of us. In its main lobby, Bloomberg offers its employees and guests an all-you-can-eat and all-you-can-drink meal service free of charge.  Throughout our time at Bloomberg, we saw Bloomberg TV and radio studios, meeting rooms, and offices.  In the middle of our tour, Michael Bloomberg, the founder of Bloomberg and the past mayor of New York City, strolled right by our group – a very cool experience!  After Bloomberg, UBS hosted our group at its offices, where Steve Pierson, UBS’s Co-Head of the Financial Institutions Group, presented at Q&A sessions with topics ranging from current trends in the market to the differences between bulge bracket and boutique investment banks.  Upon conclusion of this presentation, we interacted with several UBS professionals in their Global Healthcare Group, all of whom were incredibly engaging and helpful in answering our many questions.

That night, we had dinner as a group at Nha Trang, a Vietnamese restaurant in Chinatown. We went through a countless variety of delicious Vietnamese dishes, all pre-selected favorites of Professor Dan Oglevee, who was a regular at Nha Trang during his career on Wall Street.

Nha Trang

On day two of our trip, we began with a tour of the New York office of KeyBanc Capital Markets, where we received a tour of the trading floor and presentations from a senior bankers in Key’s Debt Capital Markets group. Next, we travelled through Grand Central Station on the way to visit the New York Offices of Goldman Sachs, which are right across the street from the Freedom Tower, the tallest building in North America.

grand central

freedom tower

At Goldman Sachs, we participated in Q&A sessions with wonderful, professional, and friendly Ohio State alumni ranging from junior bankers to Jim McNamara, the Global Head of Asset Management, Third Party Distribution. Afterwards, we visited Sagent Advisors, where we met with Marty Murrer, a proud Ohio State alum, managing director, and co-founder of the firm.  Mr. Murrer walked us through his career, gave us interview and career advice, and answered our wide array of questions.  Our fourth stop that day was at the New York Offices of the Australian-based firm, Macquarie, where we had a Q&A session with Timothy Gallagher, a managing director at the firm and another proud Ohio State alum.  We concluded this very long day with a networking dinner with over forty Ohio State alumni working in financial services at Da Noi, a wonderful Italian restaurant which reserved the entire back section of the restaurant for our event.

On our final day of the trip, we began our day at one of Professor Oglevee’s breakfast spots, the Majestic Delicatessen, where we enjoyed enormous bacon, egg, and cheese bagels. After we had sufficiently raised our cholesterol levels, we visited Barclay’s beautiful offices in Times Square.  There we met with several Ohio State alumni, including Elizabeth Mily, a managing director in the Healthcare Division.  These Barclays professionals were very generous in providing advice and insight to members of our group aspiring to work on Wall Street. We concluded our trip with a visit to ING’s New York offices, where we received presentations from seven professionals from throughout the firm and a tour of the trading floor.

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It was a jam-packed three day trip to the Big Apple, and I highly recommend this trip to every Fisher student seeking a career in finance. The lessons that we learned from hearing these men and women’s different career paths and the advice that we received are invaluable.  My interactions with these professionals provided some of the most helpful preparation for my investment banking interviews.  In my opinion, Fisher’s Office of Career Management is second-to-none for reasons like this NYC Financial Services trip.  As a Fisher graduate student, you have access to some of the best career advisors in the country, who will stop at nothing to help you make the most of the Ohio State alumni network of over half a million people.  Take advantage of this resource – I’m sure glad that I did!


MAcc Breakfast!

One cool thing about the MAcc program is how open and inviting the professors and faculty are to the students.  This can very easily be seen through the MAcc Breakfast.  Once every couple weeks the MAcc program hosts a breakfast for around 10-15 students.  The breakfast is invite only, but throughout the course of the semester every student gets invited.  In addition to the students, available professors and members of the Graduate Programs Office attend.  They are held before classes start in the morning so most people won’t have any conflicting scheduled events (besides sleeping in).  The breakfast is pretty laid back and informal creating a comfortable environment to interact with other students and the faculty.

How the breakfast worked was we got there and picked up some breakfast goodies from Panera as well as coffee or OJ and sat around a conference table.  We small talked for a little bit until everyone got there and got settled and then we individually went around the table and introduced ourselves, said where we were from, and talked about one interesting fact about us that is not on our resume.  The interesting fact then spawned a short discussion and some of the professors or staff would ask questions about it.  Clearly our MAcc class is extremely interesting; here are some things I learned during the breakfast:

  • Two students in the program are twins (not identical)
  • One MAcc student has been an extra in two movies
  • This is the first time one international MAcc student has ever left China
  • One MAcc student has pet chickens
  • One MAcc student played water polo in high school

The MAcc breakfast is a great way for students and faculty to interact and bridge the gap a little bit.  The professors are all interested in getting to know the students and learning more about our background.  This laid back environment helps students feel comfortable asking questions and going to office hours.  Overall, I found the MAcc breakfast beneficial to not only learning more about fellow classmates, but also the faculty associated with the program.


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