The Global Mergers & Acquisitions Challenge stands as the world's largest M&A case competition, drawing students from over 120 universities. Sponsored by Blackstone, CVC Capital Partners, Partners Group, and Verdier & Co and organised by the University of Cambridge, it serves as an international stage for students to showcase their M&A strategies.
Sydnesi Capital Partners, a team made up of Imperial College Business School MSc Finance students won first place at the GMA Challenge this month. In the same competition, a team comprised of our Full-Time MBA students was one of only five teams, alongside Sydnesi Capital Partners, that made it to the final out of thousands of competitor teams.
Phases of the competition
Teams of four, including at least one female member, registered for the competition. CVs were submitted during registration and were shared with sponsors for potential recruitment.
- In the intermediary phase, teams launched online, identifying a target firm for merger or acquisition based on exclusive instructions.
- Tasks included building an LBO model, creating an investment memorandum, and presenting a two-minute elevator pitch with an investment rationale.
- The final, held at the Royal Academy in London, featured the top five teams presenting their investment theses to industry experts, including Dr. Mohamed A El-Erian, President of Queens’ College, Cambridge, Ross Hamilton of Partners Group, Luigi Rizzo of Morgan Stanley, Gabrielle Dale of Blackstone, and Jean-Philippe Verdier of Verdier & Co.
Meet our winning MSc Finance team
Our team was called Sydnesi Capital Partners (from Greek: from sundein to bind together) and included:
- Martim Leong (Portuguese)
- José Bragança (Portuguese)
- Juan Buzaglo (Argentinean)
- Kanika Kejriwal (Indian)
Our team motivation
We recognised that the competition provided an excellent platform to demonstrate our proficiency in skills such as financial modelling, presentation building, strategic analysis, teamwork, and the ability to perform under pressure.
We saw the competition not just as a chance to test our skills, but also as an opportunity to gain recognition for the collective effort and showcase our proficiency in the field. This shared goal and the complementary skills within our team fuelled our motivation to excel in the competition.
Key team roles
In the competition, our team efficiently prepared a financial LBO model, crafted an investment memorandum, developed a concise two-minute elevator pitch, and delivered a comprehensive presentation to the esteemed jury. We strategically allocated tasks based on individual expertise in private equity, M&A, and venture capital. Collaboratively, we discussed and supervised each aspect as a group, recognising the significance of every member's contribution. This collaborative approach was crucial in addressing the time constraints imposed by the competition, completed within a tight two-week timeframe.
Challenges we faced
Syndesi Capital Partners strategically navigated the competition to identify a target for Private Equity acquisition in a limited timeframe. Focusing on industries with sustainable trends, we homed in on Waste Management and then the Metal Recycling sector. Our meticulous evaluation led us to Befesa, the global leader in steel dust recycling, known for its circular economy practices. The condensed timeframe necessitated a team effort with sharp problem-solving skills and mutual trust, emphasising the importance of a cohesive and efficient approach in overcoming competition challenges.
Emotions as we won the competition
Winning the competition brought an overwhelming sense of pride to our team. Witnessing our work being recognised among top candidates from some of the world's best universities was truly gratifying.
The victory not only validated our skills and efforts but also highlighted the strength of our collaboration and the quality of our work. It was a moment of triumph, knowing that we had successfully demonstrated our capabilities in the face of strong competition.
“Well done to the Imperial team for winning the hotly contested Global M&A Competition 2023: the pitch was highly convincing, professional and of a superb calibre. I know that our very own colleague Matthew Lee, who was not long ago himself in the shoes of these brilliant students, truly enjoyed coaching the team, let alone very proud they duly won! And more widely, again a pleasure for the 3rd year to meet so many aspiring young talents passionate about finance.” - Jean-Philippe Verdier (founding partner at Verdier & Co. Advisory.
Meet the Full-Time MBA team, who made the final five
Our team consisted of:
- Amir Harris - ex Private Equity Vice President at Khazanah Nasional Berhad (Malaysia government's sovereign wealth fund)
- Brittany Wu - ex Private Equity Associate at SilkRoad Property Partners (Hong Kong and Shanghai)
- Marco Wai- ex Macro Sales Trader (FX & Rates) at HSBC (Hong Kong and London)
- Vivian Wijaya - ex Investment Banker at BNP Paribas (Indonesia)
In the final investment presentation that is hosted in the prestigious Royal Society in London, we presented the solar technology firm that we have picked as a compelling investment opportunity. As one of the largest solar PV manufacturer globally, the company stands out for its holistic approach, focusing on building renewable energy and making our earth a greener place to be. We highlighted the company's remarkable revenue growth, undervaluation, and strategic position in the renewable energy sector.
During the day we also had a networking session to mingle with MBA and MSc Students from other prestigious business schools, it is a great opportunity to learn from each other regarding how we have prepared for the competition. We also chatted with company representatives and industry leaders to gain more insights into private equity.
Investment proposal and risks considered
Our proposed transaction involves retaining the company's management and founders as strategic partners to facilitate a private takeover, offering investors a premium opportunity. Despite recognising risks like regulatory challenges and supply chain disruptions, our thorough analysis and mitigation strategies position the company as a prime leveraged buyout target. We presented our case to distinguished company representatives and participated in a panel discussion with judges and panellists. We were grateful for the support of our faculty, MBA cohort, and the programme team.
Our journey to the global top five finals of the GMAChallenge has been an enriching experience, pushing the boundaries of our knowledge and skills. As we represent Imperial College Business School on the global stage, we remain committed to bringing further honor to our institution and the MBA programme.
The competition has not only been a test of our abilities but also an opportunity to think about how to integrate finance and sustainability, and how we can contribute to shaping a greener, more sustainable future through investments in renewable energy. We look forward to the private equity classes and climate change classes in the MBA course in the next semester, we are ready to make an impact and leave our mark in the world of mergers and acquisitions.
With thanks to Martim Leong and Marco Wai for sharing their experience.