A college football weekend likely comes to mind when a mid-autumn competition is associated with beer and the likes of UCLA, Texas A&M and the University of Virginia.

Teams from these schools and others recently concluded a pressure-packed competition. But it involved neither athletics nor tailgating fans. Instead, MBA students matched their skills as the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business staged its 5th annual Mergers and Acquisitions Competition.

G. “Anand” Anandalingam, dean of UMD’s Robert H. Smith School of Business (at right), presents the Mays team with their third-place award.

Texas A&M’s Mays Business School finished third and received $1,000 in the Oct. 20-21 event. Corporate executives, Wall Street bankers and business professors judged merger and acquisition pitches hypothetically based on the international beer/brewing industry.

UVA’s Darden School of Business received the $5,000 first-place prize and the UCLA Anderson School of Management received the second-place $2,500 prize.

“This one-of-a-kind competition really prepares MBA students for the fast-paced world of mergers and acquisitions,” said G. “Anand” Anandalingam, dean of the Robert H. Smith School of Business. “We challenge the students to excel under deadline pressure in a sophisticated, cross-disciplinary exercise under the scrutiny of investment bankers, strategic consultants and high-level corporate financiers who work M&A transactions on a regular basis.”

The teams, with up to four members, received their case assignment on the competition’s first day and worked through the night to create a persuasive argument for strategic merger and acquisition alternatives for a large international brewer. Students used event co-sponsor Capital IQ’s tools and real-time databases for the brewing industry in preparing their analyses. Teams pitched their final presentations to the judges, representing such companies as JPMorgan Chase, ATK and Accenture. Teams were judged on their qualitative arguments and the quantitative models used to support their arguments.

Michael Schenk, account executive for the competition’s other sponsor, Morningstar Inc., said the Smith School has established a niche among academic business competitions. “This [competition] is on par with the best of the many competitions I’ve observed, plus it’s uniquely focused on one segment of the market – mergers and acquisitions.”

Howard Bernheim, director of business development for Standard and Poor’s Capital IQ-Compustat, said he was impressed by “the highest levels of professionalism and poise by MBA students. The students were capable and knowledgeable as they presented and responded to an onslaught of hard questions,” he said. “They will be assets to their employers and to the U.S. economy.”

In addition to a Smith School team and the prizewinning teams, competitors represented Carnegie Mellon University’s Tepper School of Business, Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business, Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business, Purdue University’s Krannert School of Management and the George Washington University School of Business.
The Smith School’s MBA Finance Association presents the Mergers and Acquisitions Competition as its premier fall event.

Activities also included a networking reception and opportunities for students to meet industry professionals and recruiters. For more information, go to www.smith.umd.edu/macompetition.