By Ole Bjoernstad (’17)
Expectations were high when Jeremy Mau (’17) and I decided to enter the 2017 ACG Cup to defend the title for UCLA Anderson: In 2016 Jeremy and UCLA Anderson classmates David Shin (’17) and Kyle Patterson (’17) claimed the hard-won prize. With my teammate determined to win the cup back-to-back — which has never been done before — and having interned with the competition’s main sponsor, Houlihan Lokey, I knew there could be no slip-ups or hesitation if we wanted to bring the cup back home.
The Association for Corporate Growth’s Los Angeles, Orange County and San Diego chapters hosted the best teams from 12 schools in this annual investment banking and private equity competition. After two weeks of thorough analysis, heated discussions and multiple all-nighters, Jeremy and I went into the final rounds prepared and confident. Our training at top-tier investment banks over the summer (Jeremy’s at Lincoln International and mine at Houlihan Lokey) gave us the confidence and stamina to keep going into the wee hours of the morning. Our hard work paid off, and we took home the grand prize of $8,000 and the right to retain the coveted ACG Cup trophy for another year.
ACG is the global community for middle market M&A dealmakers and business leaders focused on driving growth. The ACG Cup is a case study competition designed to give students from leading MBA programs across the country real-world experience and insights into mergers and acquisitions, investment banking, financial advisory and private equity. The intra-school competition at Anderson this year was tough, to say the least: The teams consisted of veteran and future investment banking professionals, all eager and able to represent UCLA Anderson in the highest capacity. In the end, we won the round and were selected to represent our school at the regional championship at Chapman University. Our crosstown rivals at USC were gunning to reclaim the trophy, which kept our competitive spirits going.
For the challenge, we were hired by a marketing conglomerate called Titan Consolidated to evaluate options regarding one of their holding companies, Jupiter. The options included continuing a planned bolt-on acquisition, selling the company to a PE firm or continuing status quo. We had to perform valuation and strategic analyses to provide the best recommendation for management, majority shareholders and minority shareholders.
In the second round we were asked to advise the company how to raise money in a liquidity crunch that was to have taken place two years later. We were presented with three or four alternatives — but the real task was to determine the least damaging of the options, as they were all bad. We relied on course materials from several Anderson classes to help us with the calculations and found Mark Garmaise’s venture capital and private equity curriculum to be particularly helpful in making our recommendations. My internship had taught me how to make specific slides to get ideas across with a mix of quantitative and qualitative factors. Since I had worked specifically in financial restructuring, I had some exposure to liability management and financial distress situations that helped us in understanding what the company’s concerns were.
As the winning team, we earned the coveted ACG Cup, which will resume its place at Anderson. But we also left with invaluable experience and exposure to local executives and dealmakers. As a top-tier business school, UCLA Anderson has provided us with tremendous opportunities. In the end, it comes down to what you make of those opportunities. This has truly been an amazing experience and we are grateful for the chance to represent UCLA Anderson.