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HEC Paris win 2016 Harvard International Finance Competition

On April 23rd, a team of international students from HEC Paris won the final round of the 2016 Harvard International Finance Competition, a world-renowned case study contest featuring the best global universities on Harvard's campus.

HEC Paris win 2016 Harvard International Finance Competition - Harvard Extension Business Society (HEBS)

The Harvard International Finance Competition is an annual flagship event organized by Harvard Extension Business Society aimed at bringing together Finance and Business students from prestigious international universities. Participants compete in a finance case at Harvard which focuses on firm valuation and investment banking. 

The finance case used for this year’s competition was written by Joel Heilprin, Professor at Harvard Business School. A preliminary round of CV screenings was conducted by the organizing committee, and the selected teams were then eligible to participate in the second round of the competition. After the second round’s case submission, an intensive reviewing and selection process was conducted by Harvard, and the top 10 teams from the first round are now given the opportunity to make a short case presentation at the final event, to compete for the prize. Finalists’ presentations will be given to a select panel of esteemed professors and distinguished industry professionals. 
This year, a team called Modigliani – consisting of four HEC Paris Master in Management students - had the honor of representing HEC Paris in the final round of this case competition at Harvard. Culturally and ethnically diverse, the team comprised four international students of four different nationalities. The name Modigliani was inspired from the Modigliani-Miller-Theorem learnt from a Corporate Finance class at HEC Paris. The class is taught by HEC professor Clemens Otto, whose inspiring teaching style helped the team to build a solid foundation and understanding of valuation analysis.

The Blackstone Case

The case assigned to the team was related to one of the largest leveraged buyout transactions in the history of the private equity industry. In 2007, Blackstone, the American multinational private equity group, paid $26 billion in total to acquire full ownership of Hilton Hotels. As part of the investment process of Private Equity transactions, a thorough analysis and due diligence is performed prior to the execution of a deal. Each participating team in this competition was tasked with creating an investment memo illustrating the key areas to address in a typical LBO process and provide further insights regarding the Blackstone acquisition of Hilton. An in-depth level of industry and company research, detailed financial analyses, thorough valuation and investment analyses were required to be completed in this investment memo.

The HEC team, Modigliani, consisting of Dominik Stefano Campanella, Lin Zhongqiang, Vaibhav Longani, Piotr Dziadosz, reflects on the intense preparation for the case submission: “Given the degree of complexity of this leveraged buyout transaction and the amount of research that needed to be conducted, our team was under a great deal of time pressure. Yet, the team was determined to submit a work of the highest possible quality and consequently win the competition as the final goal.”

After the result was announced, a team member commented: “The moment we heard the winner announcement, all of us were extremely excited. We felt very proud of ourselves as all the hard work had finally paid off. It was a wonderful moment for all of us. What makes us particularly proud is that we defeated our strong competitors from world-renowned universities including London Business School and MBA students with many years of experience in finance. Meanwhile, We have proved to ourselves that academic concepts we learn in Corporate Finance classes can be almost as valuable as full-time professional experience.”

Due to the ethical standard of the assignment, the Team was forbidden to seek advice from other students, school professors or industry professionals; Team Modigliani underlines that courses that were taught this semester, including Strategy and Corporate Finance, equipped them with the necessary knowledge and insights to analyze the key information and eventually crack the case.