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TMA NYC Proudly Announces the Winners of the 2015 Student Paper Competition


TMA New York Student Paper Competition Winners Announced | December 8, 2015

Continuing a long-standing tradition of the Chapter, TMA New York is pleased to announce the winners of its semiannual Student Paper Competition.

The TMA New York Student Paper Competition recognizes outstanding student achievement in the field of corporate renewal, as well as research that may offer new insight into the profession and expand TMA’s university outreach. The program establishes building blocks for future relationships with those students who have submitted papers, some of whom may eventually enter the industry full-time.

Students enrolled in an MBA program or equivalent business-related master’s degree program at an accredited university in the New York City area were eligible to enter. The competition judges evaluate the papers based on established criteria, including relevance to issues pertinent to corporate distress, financial restructuring, and reorganization; well-written, clearly constructed, and thorough treatment of the subject; originality of the subject and its interpretation; and depth of research and quality of analysis and presentation.

First Place:

Laura Silverman, Stefano Gamba, and Paco Cantero from New York University will be awarded first place for their paper titled Caesars Palace: A Discussion on Historical LBOs, Financial Distress and Fraudulent Conveyance.

Caesars Entertainment Operating Company (“CEOC”, formerly Harrah’s Operating Company) filed a voluntary bankruptcy petition on January 15th 2015. This occurred after several years of severe performance deterioration, as a consequence of the “perfect storm”: a) unexpected contraction in the gaming/casino industry, right after the large Harrah’s/Caesars M&A of 2005; b) a series of unfortunate strategic choices, leaving the company out of key growth Asian markets; c) unsustainable debt levels, as a consequence of the LBO with which Apollo Capital Partners and TPG Partners took the group private in 2006-2008.  The main focus of this study is a series of asset transfers to newly-created entities that the owners of the company put in place with the official aim to generate liquidity, which creditors contest as allegedly being cases of fraudulent conveyance.  Click to read the full paper.

Second Place:

Spencer Payne, David Liu and Paramjit Singh from New York University will be awarded second place for their paper titled The Bankruptcy of General Growth Properties.

General Growth Properties, Inc. (“GGP”) is a commercial real estate investment company founded in 1954 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Its roots and long-running investment focus are regional retail mall properties, but it also invests in other commercial real estate such as office and multi-purpose properties. In 1993, in order to give itself better access to the public markets for an acquisition-heavy environment, GGP went public for the second time as a REIT with subsidiary special-purpose entities (“SPEs”) set up as direct owners of its properties and retained this structure going forward. The company saw tepid growth over the 15 years following its IPO, as it acquired and developed properties mostly financed by securitized commercial mortgages. It became a real estate giant worth around $35 billion in enterprise value at its peak in 2007, but famously was unable to weather the financial crisis and became the largest real estate bankruptcy ever in April 2009. This paper discusses what strategies and events led to GGP filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, the nuances of its bankruptcy, the intense bidding for its assets, and its eventual emergence from reorganization. Click to read the full paper.

Third Place:

Luis Sosa, Tera Gallegos, Allison Ahr and Alexandra Costa from Columbia University will be awarded third place for their paper titled Restructuring MoneyGram International, Inc.

MoneyGram International (MoneyGram) is the second-largest money transfer company in the world and has $1.45 billion in annual revenues. Yet its stock price lags behind its primary competitors, and its margins, financial performance and key ratios are paltry in comparison. In 2008, MoneyGram’s stock was close to being delisted when it lost nearly 90% of its market value. In an attempt to turn MoneyGram around, a new executive chairman of the board and CEO were brought in in 2009. To date, MoneyGram continues to struggle in the market. More drastic changes will need to be initiated in order for the company to survive as well as become a viable competitor in the global money transfer and payment services industries. This paper looks to frame the environment that MoneyGram operates in, assess its viability as a going concern, and recommend a restructuring plan to turn around the company.  Click to read the full paper.

“We are pleased with the high quality of submissions this year as in the past, and I appreciate and acknowledge the work of the Committee members who helped set the standards, grade the students’ papers and coordinate the results,” said Sam Dawidowicz of Quest Turnaround Advisors, LLC, who serves as Chair of the Academic Relations Committee of the TMA New York Chapter.

About the Turnaround Management Association

The Turnaround Management Association (TMA) is the leading organization dedicated to turnaround management, corporate restructuring, and distressed investing. Established in 1988, TMA has more than 9,000 members in 52 chapters worldwide, including 32 in North America. Members include turnaround practitioners, attorneys, accountants, advisors, liquidators, executive recruiters, and consultants, as well as academic, government, and judicial employees.