Students from Saïd Business School, University of Oxford have won the 3rd annual Hermes GPE Private Markets Challenge, defeating two teams from London Business School. The Challenge is open to Oxford Saïd Finance Lab students and to London Business Schools students, who are asked to review a potential co-investment opportunity into a public-to-private transaction, alongside a private equity fund of their choice. All students taking part had the opportunity to attend a workshop and presentations with the senior Hermes GPE team and participate in a live teleconference workshop with Christian Mankiewicz, CFA, who directed the challenge. In addition to submitting a PowerPoint presentation to outline the investment analysis and recommendation, the teams submitted a financial valuation model that was assessed by the judging panel.
The competition, founded in 2015 by the Private Equity Institute at Oxford Saïd in partnership with Hermes GPE, simulates a direct co-investment exercise using publically available materials, and helps to introduce students to the challenges of institutional private equity investing. In order to enter the challenge, Oxford students are required to partake in additional course work called the Oxford Saïd Finance Lab, which is a comprehensive programme where students gain a wealth of theoretical and practical training in financial modelling.
The winning team, Jothan Webb, Tara Gooding and Oscar Gonzalez were selected from 19 competing teams that submitted full presentations. Additional to their full time studies, the winning team spent over 80 hours working on their investment proposal.
‘It was a real team effort and we focused our time on researching the market, the company, and its historic financial and strategic performance. As part of the Lab, we were fortunate enough to have direct access to a number of leveraged finance professionals who provided advice on our investment strategy. It was a fantastic opportunity to see what it would be like to work in the private equity sector,’ said Jothan Webb, who has previous work experience in trading and entrepreneurial start-ups.
Oscar Gonzalez, who prior to his MBA worked in mergers and acquisitions said that the challenge experience was like nothing he’d encountered and that the Lab gave the team a leading start. ‘The Finance Lab gave us the practical investment modelling skills to perform a leveraged buyout, and importantly the execution skills needed to better analyse and present to the judging panel. Having direct access to experts presenting weekly on recent case studies helped us apply the Lab’s lessons within a dynamic business environment.’
The panel which consisted of senior executives from Hermes GPE investment and strategy teams, was highly impressed with the quality of entries, with the top three submissions in a tightly fought contest. The Oxford team ultimately stood out based on depth of analysis, clarity and delivery of the investment recommendation.
‘The Oxford Hermes GPE challenge offers a great way to engage with highly driven students across top UK business schools on investment research projects similar to those they would conduct if they came to work for Hermes GPE,’ said Elias Korosis, Partner at Hermes GPE who chaired the panel. ‘We are delighted to have successfully recruited in the past from the winners of this challenge, and we look forward to collaborating more with the University of Oxford, London Business School and other top universities and business schools in bridging the practitioner and academic perspectives on private equity.’
The team shared how the Lab was an enabler in their success. Tara Gooding who has prior work experience in consulting said, ‘For me the access to real-life scenarios coupled with the modelling and valuation exercises really gave our team the competitive edge. I believe the stand out for our team was our thorough analysis, clarity in the investment thesis, and thoughtful consideration of the investment risks.’
The founder of the Lab and Executive Director of the Oxford Private Equity Institute, Andreas T. Angelopoulos said that these challenges are a unique way that Oxford Saïd Business School differentiate their finance offering to students. ‘This experience not only provides students an opportunity to delve deep into financial modelling, but a chance to examine and learn from real-life case studies taught by industry experts from leading global organisations. Through this student's develop a strategic mind-set to complement the technical training.’
If you’d like to know more about the challenges, please visit the Private Equity Institute website.
For more information on the Finance Lab, and how it can excel your career in investment banking, private equity and asset management, visit the Oxford Saïd Business School website.