Mike Velcich '14 accepts the check on behalf of his team.
Out of 23 teams from 16 MBA programs, Chicago Booth was awarded second place at the 13th Annual Wharton MBA Buyout Case Competition. The competition was held Feb. 22 at The University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School campus in Philadelphia. Team members included first year MBA students Jon Alexander, Jo Trahms, Mike Velcich, Ethan Wang, and second year MBA student Steve Southwick.
Rounding out the four teams that made the final round, The Wharton School's Team A won first place, Columbia Business School placed third, and Wharton's Team B placed fourth.
Sponsored by the Wharton MBA student Private Equity & Venture Capital Club, the competition gave students merely five days to analyze a publicly traded company and prepare a 30 minute presentation in front of senior professionals from the private equity industry that highlighted their investment thesis and strategy.
This year, Staples, Inc. was the hypothetical target. The organizers couldn't have picked a better target; two days after the competition started, Office Depot and OfficeMax announced a merger that could transform the office supply industry. The team from Chicago Booth won second place with the recommendation to buy Staples and build its ecommerce and logistics business beyond just office supplies. Booth focused on the company's consistent cash flow characteristics, deep management team, strong entrenchment in the B2B space and the ability to expand product offerings to the healthcare space.
Teams presented to a panel of three private equity professionals, fielding questions throughout their presentations. After presentations ended late in the afternoon, the final four teams chosen to compete in the final round were announced. Two Wharton teams and a team from Columbia made the cut along with the Booth team. Booth's part time team was the only team to receive an honorable mention from the judges. The final round consisted of a compressed presentation and Q&A in front of the competition participants.
The competition attracted students from around the world. In addition to seven of the top 10 MBA programs in the United States, programs from the UK and Canada were in attendance. Programs from the United States included BYU, Chicago, Cornell, Dartmouth, NYU, Northwestern, Berkeley, UCLA, UNC, UVA and Wharton. International programs included University of Cambridge, University of Oxford, University of Manchester and the University of Toronto. Including preliminary intra-school competitions, an estimated 250 students competed.