Ulrich Hege

Ulrich Hege

Professor

HEC Paris

Ulrich Hege is Professor of Finance and Associate Dean for the Ph.D. Program at HEC Paris. A native of Germany, he holds a master’s degree from the University of Frankfurt and a Ph.D. from Princeton University. He has extensively published on topics such as mergers and acquisitions, divestitures, private equity, venture capital, entrepreneurship, corporate governance, debt restructuring, and bankruptcy. His research has been published in the Review of Financial Studies, Journal of Financial Economics, Management Science, Rand Journal of Economics, Journal of Business, Review of Finance, Harvard Business Review, and other international journals.

  • Can you tell us about your work?

Like every professor, I am dividing my time between teaching, supervising students, and research, and also, inevitably, some administrative work. My research interests have always been in corporate finance. Over the course of the last 20 years that I am a professor now, I have touched at many questions in the corporate finance area: venture capital, entrepreneurship, private equity, mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures, capital structure, debt structure and design of debt contracts, bankruptcy, corporate governance and optimal incentive contracts. I am also interested in banking and in issues of the stability of the financial system. 

  • What is the Corporate Finance Theory class you teach in the MIF about?

To understand the financial decisions of companies, and to be a good financial advisor to companies, it is important to have a solid background in the principal foundations of the field. The main purpose of the course is to lay these foundations, and so we spend a large amount of time in understanding the workings of the main models on capital structure. The second purpose is to equip students with the toolbox needed to use and understand the models that make up corporate finance independently - finance is life-long learning, and new models in corporate finance and related areas like financial intermediation are constantly being produced.
At the same time, I am trying to show the connections between the theoretical concepts and real-life cases. Many of the fundamental corporate finance concepts, for example debt overhang and risk-taking, help us understand the functioning of financial institutions and of the financial system, and often enough their dysfunctional aspects. In my class, we are sometimes looking beyond corporate finance and look to those system-wide applications of the concepts as well. Thus, I am always updating the class to keep track of the fast-pacing evolution we are living through since the outset of the crisis in 2007.

  • What are the highlights of your first years as Associate Dean for the Ph.D. Program at HEC Paris?

The PhD program is a key element of HEC Paris' ambition to be one of the leading business schools of the world, and my job as Associate Dean for the Ph.D. Program is to spearhead this effort in all seven fields in which we are offering a PhD, including finance. Our goal is to produce some of the best young PhD graduates on the job market every year, place them in the top business schools, and thus produce some of the future thought leaders in their fields. We have been pretty successful lately, with our top PhD placements in the last two years being tenure-track faculty positions at MIT Sloan of Management last year, and at Harvard Business School this year. Both candidates were in finance, and both actually graduated with a master in finance from HEC before joining our PhD program. We had excellent placements also in other fields, and these successes are reinvigorating our program and helping us to recruit talented young researchers.