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Posted 1.20.15

ParentCo runs MediaCo as its core business and ApparelCo as a recent add-on. Pressures from investors are mounting due to the poor performance of company stocks the last few years, and action must be taken as soon as possible. The board of directors and senior management have turned to you for advice and insight in order to determine what's keeping the company from succeeding and how the company should deal with the situation. You have one week to analyze the company, prepare your case, and present it before the panel. How will you advise this company?

This was the case presented to the teams who competed in the regional Association for Corporate Growth (ACG) Cup at the Union Club Friday, January 16. ACG is a global consortium of investment bankers, private equity professionals, corporate develompent officers, accountants, lawyers and other service providers working in the deal industry. The ACG Cup is a regional competition of the Cleveland ACG chapter focused on M&A/strategic financial advice presented to a panel of mock "management and board of directors of the subject company." The panel is comprised of senior professionals in the investment banking, private equity and financial advisory sectors.

Four teams from Weatherhead competed in the sixth annual competition, and team two brought home second place. Weatherhead competed against teams from The Ohio State University, Baldwin Wallace University, Kent State University, Otterbein University, and Youngstown State University.

The four teams who represented Weatherhead at the event were comprised of the following students:

Team 1
Heather Frutig (first-year MBA)
Jordan Klimek (second-year MBA)
Joao Machada De Gouveia (first-year MBA)
Brandon McFarland (second-year MBA)
Lauren Turkisher (second-year MBA)

Team 2
Ziliang Ji (MSM-Finance)
Yayi Wang (MSM-Finance)
Donnie Woo (MSM-Finance)
Ruofan Yu (MSM-Finance)
Yibang Zhu (MSM-Finance)

Team 3
Xiaoqian Bao (MSM-Finance)
Yunfan Li (MSM-Finance)
Qianlin Liu (MSM-Finance)
Yidan Sun (MSM-Finance)
Gagan Tongiya (first-year MBA)

Team 4
Yifan Shen (MSM-Finance)
Yiduan Wang (MSM-Finance)
Han Xiao (MSM-Finance)
Heng Zhao (MSM-Finance)
Yifan Zhu (MSM-Finance)

The team of Ziliang Ji, Yayi Wang, Donnie Woo, Ruofan Yu, and Yibang Zhu brought home second place.

Teams were tasked with pitching the board of directors and management team to be hired to advise them in evaluationg and executing strategic financial alternatives, including selling one or both of the divisions, expanding the smaller division via acquisition or taking the company private. The judges, acting as the board and management, included seasoned deal professionals.

The preparation for and presentation of the case was intense and time consuming. The teams spent nearly every waking hour outside of classes on the case, averaging four hours of sleep a night. 

In order to work within the time constraints, "We had to divide the work, meaning some of us had to participate less in the analysis and strategy discussions and spend more time on the 'boring' parts," Donnie Woo, member of the second-place team, said, "making Powerpoints, designing business cards and so on." Since each of the team members are excellent analysts, the task delegation was sometimes frustrating, but "it worked out well, because each member in the team shares the same value that, in this case, team outweighs individual."

Woo cites the leadership and coaching of Professor Scott Fine during the days and weeks of preparation prior to the case presentation as both inspirational and helpful. The team beat nerves and presented their speeches with confidence and eloquence.

Significant time and preparation went into assembling the four teams that competed in the final competition. Weatherhead teams began competing for the four team slots in November, participating in a 12-15 hour boot camp coordinated by Scott Fine, professor of banking and finance, over several weeks. Initially, there were 20 teams of five competing for the four team slots. Teams were given last year's case to prepare and present in front of a panel of alumni judges in late November in order to determine which teams would represent Weatherhead in the regional ACG Cup.

Weatherhead students represented the school extremely well and learned a tremendous amount both before and during the competition. Their outstanding work impressed the judges, all of whom are leaders in the business community. The participating students had the opportunity to network during the reception after the competition.

"This was the sixth year we've participated in this prestigious competition," Scott Fine, professor of banking and finance, said of the event. "As evidenced by the need to run an internal competition with 20 teams, interest in this competition has increased substantially. Even at the regional level, the competition has gotten more fierce, with Weatherhead and Ohio State each fielding four strong teams alone!

"The quality of analysis, advice and presentations has improved to the point where any one of our teams could have won in prior years. They should all be exceptionally proud of their work."

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