Over 130 participants and 33 teams competed in the “Citi Mergers and Acquisitions Case Competition” hosted by the Cornell Hedge Fund and professional business fraternities Alpha Kappa Psi and Phi Gamma Nu. Five teams were selected to present their pitches to Citibank investment bankers at the final round on Wednesday.
Ten days before, each team received a case of a potential acquisition of GNC by Nike. The teams analyzed Nike’s financial advantages or disadvantages in acquiring GNC, how GNC would fit into a company like Nike and potential competition in an acquisition, according to Rittik Rao ’16, co-founder of Cornell Hedge Fund.
Team Sage was declared the winner. Darien Lord ’18, a member of Team Sage, called the competition a learning experience for all participants.
“We just picked up the skills along the way,” he said. “I wouldn’t be 100 percent confident that we could do it again. It would require great effort [to do it] again, but we did learn the fundamentals of [M&A] fairly well and how everything came together.”
Nicole Kwok ’19, another member of Team Sage, said that working with unfamiliar concepts was a “very valuable experience,” because it “pushed us to figure things out on our own and expanded our knowledge in the field.”
Rao explained that the case competition was created for students eager to gain experience in business.
“A lot of people interested in the industry don’t even know what [a M&A model] is,” Rao said. “This is to help educate them. No Cornell student is going to submit something that is [perfect] — they haven’t had the industry experience. The best part about this is the feedback.”
Rao added that the motivation for the competition aligned with the club’s purpose.
“One reason we started as a club — why we are so successful, why we are now the largest undergraduate finance club on campus — is because we have an extremely open attitude,” Rao said. “We don’t believe in peer exclusivity. We see that as a reason why we gain the competitive edge. All majors should be welcome — you can be a business major, but a lot of people I met [in internships and in the industry] come from diverse backgrounds.
Cornell Hedge Fund seeks to change the business environment at Cornell, so it is more open to non-traditional majors expected in the financial industry, according to Rao.
Rao talked about the application process for business organizations on campus, saying “it was held against you that you didn’t have the opportunity to learn.”
“The people who succeeded weren’t necessarily the people that knew the most coming in,” he said. “It was the people who were the quickest to adapt, quickest on their feet.”
The Cornell Hedge Fund will continue to expand its efforts to educate people about the business industry by increasing programs and events open to students of various backgrounds, according to Rao.