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Finance Case Studies

The Yale School of Management International Center for Finance (ICF) provides academic and professional support for research in financial economics. Part of the academic support that the ICF provides goes toward the development of finance case studies to be used in classes as teaching instruments. Along with the ICF’s financial contributions, Yale SOM alumni and ICF Advisory Board members also assist in funding and creating finance case studies.

Case StudyYale SOM deployed the “raw” case approach as a way to support a new approach to management education.  The SOM Case Research and Development Team (CRDT) built an alternative to the traditional case study model by using a web-based multi-media platform.  Students can learn from a variety of other sources, which can include interviews, videos, charts, and links to additional resources.

ICF Faculty Director William Goetzmann and ICF Deputy Director Geert Rouwenhorst have created a number of new finance case studies and use them in their very own courses.  Over the years they have been able to produce cases on hot topics and trends which helps keep the Yale SOM curriculum current.

The case writing team has also teamed up with alumni and ICF Advisory Board members to create case studies based on real life problems that they have experienced firsthand or on topics that they find relevant to their professional industry. Last year, ICF Advisory Board member Adam Blumenthal ’98, worked with the case writing team to develop several private equity case studies which played an integral part in the elective course that he teaches at Yale SOM titled, MGT 806 Private Equity: Value Creation.

Below are some of the most recent finance case studies featured on our ICF website:
Gardner Denver

Asset Management, Employee/HR, Investor/Finance, Leadership & Teamwork

James Quinn, Adam Blumenthal, and Jaan Elias

Smiling production workers at Gardner Denver

As KKR, a private equity firm, prepared to take Gardner-Denver, one of its portfolio companies, public in mid-2017, a discussion arose on the Gardner-Denver board about the implications of granting approximately $110 million in equity to its global employee base as part of its innovative "broad-based employee ownership program." Was the generous equity package that Pete Stavros proposed be allotted to 6,100 employees the wisest move and the right timing for Gardner Denver and its new shareholders?

Acknowledgement: This case was made possible by the generosity of Adam M. Blumenthal ’89 MPPM and Steven M. Silver ’90 B.A.

Hirtle Callaghan & Co

Asset Management, Investor/Finance, Leadership & Teamwork

James Quinn, Jaan Elias, and Adam Blumenthal

People shaking hands

In August 2019, Stephen Vaccaro, Yale MBA ‘03, became the director of private equity at Hirtle, Callaghan & Co., LLC (HC), a leading investment management firm associated with pioneering the outsourced chief investment office (OCIO) model for college endowments, foundations, and wealthy families. Vaccaro was tasked with spearheading efforts to grow HC’s private equity (PE) market value from $1 billion to a new target of roughly $3 billion in order to contribute to the effort of generating higher long-term returns for clients. Would investment committees overseeing endowments typically in the 10s or 100s of millions embrace this shift, and, more pointedly, was this the best move for client portfolios?

Acknowledgement: This  case has been made possible by the generous support of the Jane Mendillo YC ’80, ’84 MBA and Ralph Earle ’84 MBA Fund and The International Center for Finance at the Yale School of Management.

Suwanee Lumber Company

Asset Management, Investor/Finance, Sustainability

Jaan Elias, Adam Blumenthal, James Shovlin, and Heather E. Tookes

A loader carrying lumber

In 2016, Blue Wolf, a private equity firm headquartered in New York City, confronted a number of options when it came to its lumber business. They could put their holdings in the Suwanee Lumber Company (SLC), a sawmill they had purchased in 2013, up for sale. Or they could continue to hold onto SLC and run it as a standalone business. Or they could double down on the lumber business by buying an idle mill in Arkansas to run along with SLC.

Acknowledgement: This case was made possible by the generosity of Adam M. Blumenthal ’89 MPPM and Steven M. Silver ’90 B.A.

Suwanee Lumber Company (B)

Asset Management, Investor/Finance, Sustainability

Jaan Elias, Adam Blumenthal, James Shovlin, and Heather E. Tookes

Milling Equipment

In early 2018, Blue Wolf Capital Management received an offer to sell both its mill in Arkansas (Caddo) and its mill in Florida (Suwanee) to Conifex, an upstart Canadian lumber company. Blue Wolf hadn’t planned to put both mills up for sale yet, but was the deal too good to pass up? Blue Wolf had invested nearly $36.5 million into rehabilitating the Suwanee and Caddo mills. However, neither was fully operational yet. Did the offer price fairly value the prospects of the mills? How should Blue Wolf consider the Conifex stock? Should Blue Wolf conduct a more extensive sales process rather than settle for this somewhat unexpected offer?

Acknowledgement: This case was made possible by the generosity of Adam M. Blumenthal ’89 MPPM and Steven M. Silver ’90 B.A.

Home Health Care

Asset Management, Competitor/Strategy, Healthcare, Investor/Finance

Jean Rosenthal, Jaan Elias, Adam Blumenthal, and Jeremy Kogler

Nurse with patient

Blue Wolf Capital Partners was making major investments in the home health care sector. The private equity fund had purchased two U.S. regional companies in the space. The plan was to merge the two organizations, creating opportunities for shared expertise and synergies in reducing management costs. Two years later, the management team was considering adding a third company. Projected revenues for the combined organization would top $1 billion annually. What was the likelihood that this opportunity would succeed?

Acknowledgement: This case was made possible by the generosity of Adam M. Blumenthal ’89 MPPM and Steven M. Silver ’90 B.A.

The Federal Reserve Response to 9-11

Financial Regulation, Investor/Finance, Leadership & Teamwork, State & Society

Jean Rosenthal, William B. English, Jaan Elias

Fed conference room

The attacks on New York City and the Pentagon in Washington, DC, on September 11, 2001, shocked the nation and the world. The attacks crippled the nerve center of the U.S. financial system. Information flow among banks, traders in multiple markets, and regulators was interrupted. Under Roger Ferguson's leadership, the Federal Reserve made a series of decisions designed to provide confidence and increase liquidity in a severely damaged financial system. In hindsight, were these the best approaches? Were there other options that could have taken place?
Alternative Meat Industry: How Should Beyond Meat be Valued?

Competitor/Strategy, Customer/Marketing, Investor/Finance, Sourcing/Managing Funds, Sustainability

Nikki Springer, Leon Van Wyk, Jacob Thomas, K. Geert Rouwenhorst and Jaan Elias

A couple of Beyond Meat burgers

In 2009, when experienced entrepreneur Ethan Brown decided to build a better veggie burger, he set his sights on an exceptional goal – create a plant-based McDonald’s equally beloved by the American appetite. To do this, he knew he needed to transform the idea of plant-based meat alternatives from the sleepy few veggie burger options in the grocer’s freezer case into a fundamentally different product. Would further investments in research and development help give Beyond Meat an edge? Would Americans continue to embrace meat alternatives, or would the initial fanfare subside below investor expectations?
Occidental Petroleum's Acquisition of Anadarko

Asset Management, Competitor/Strategy, Investor/Finance, Sourcing/Managing Funds

Jaan Elias, Piyush Kabra, Jacob Thomas, K. Geert Rouwenhorst

In May of 2019, Vicki Hollub, the CEO of Occidental Petroleum (Oxy), pulled off a blockbuster. Bidding against Chevron, one of the world's largest oil firms, she had managed to buy Anadarko, another oil company that was roughly the size of Oxy. Hollub believed that the combination of the two firms brought the possibility for billions of dollars in synergies, more than offsetting the cost of the acquisition. Had Hollub hurt shareholder value with Oxy's ambitious deal, or had she bolstered a mid-size oil firm and made it a major player in the petroleum industry? Why didn't investors see the tremendous synergies in which Hollub fervently believed?
Hertz Global Holdings (A): Uses of Debt and Equity

Asset Management, Financial Regulation, Sourcing/Managing Funds

Jean Rosenthal, Geert Rouwenhorst, Jacob Thomas, Allen Xu

By 2019, Hertz CEO Kathyrn Marinello and CFO Jamere Jackson had managed to streamline the venerable car rental firm's operations. Their next steps were to consider ways to fine-tune Hertz's capital structure. Would it make sense for Marinello and Jackson to lead Hertz to issue more equity to re-balance the structure? One possibility was a stock rights offering, but an established company issuing equity was not generally well-received by investors. How well would the market respond to an attempt by Hertz management to increase shareholder equity?
Hertz Global Holdings (B): Uses of Debt and Equity 2020

Asset Management, Investor/Finance, Sourcing/Managing Funds

Jean Rosenthal, Geert Rouwenhorst, Jacob Thomas, Allen Xu

In 2019, Hertz held a successful rights offering and restructured some of its debt. CEO Kathyrn Marinello and CFO Jamere Jackson were moving the company toward what seemed to be sustainable profitability, having implemented major structural and financial reforms. Analysts predicted a rosy future. Travel, particularly corporate travel, was increasing as the economy grew. With all the creativity that the company had shown in its financial arrangements, did it have any options remaining, even while under the court-led reorganization?