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November 27, 2014

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Plan to Save Struggling Retailer Wins Jindal Team Top Prize

A plan to revive an ailing drugstore chain has won a Naveen Jindal School of Management student team the top prize in a national competition.

Turnaaroud Management Association's 2013 competition winners

The Turnaround Management Association's first-place student paper prize in the case analysis category went to a plan by May full-time MBA graduates (from left) Jacob Berry, Charles Leu, Scott Wade, Ryan McLaughlin and Brian Brigham.

The five students, who graduated from the Full-Time MBA program in May, won the Turnaround Management Association's 2013 Carl Marks Student Paper Competition first-place award in the case analysis category. The team was to receive the award and $3,000 in prize money at the organization’s 25th annual conference this week in Washington, D.C.

The award is the third TMA honor for a Jindal School entry in three years. A student’s restructuring plan won second place in case analysis in 2012, and another entry received first place in the same category in 2011.

This year’s team included Jacob Berry, Brian Brigham, Charles Leu, Ryan McLaughlin and Scott Wade. Their paper, “Restructuring Rite Aid Corporation,” recommended a prepackaged bankruptcy and reorganization plan for the chain, which at times has appeared at risk of insolvency.

Students’ success in the past three TMA competitions demonstrates the strength of the Jindal School’s corporate renewal course, said J. Paul Ossa, a turnaround professional, principal and managing director of Pathfinder Group LLC, who served as one of the team’s mentors. Ossa also serves on the board of directors of the Dallas/Fort Worth TMA Chapter and as an alternate on the national board of trustees.

UT Dallas has something no other school in the region is offering. Students who take the corporate restructuring and turnarounds course and enter the Turnaround Management Association student paper competition put themselves on par with the top MBA schools on the planet, including the top U.S. Ivy League schools.

J. Paul Ossa,
principal and managing director of Pathfinder Group LLC

“UT Dallas has something no other school in the region is offering. Students who take the corporate restructuring and turnarounds course and enter the Turnaround Management Association student paper competition put themselves on par with the top MBA schools on the planet, including the top U.S. Ivy League schools,” Ossa said. “They gain a basic understanding of the warning signs and issues facing companies heading into distress. These students will be better prepared and will have a basic understanding of how to address such issues and who to contact before things get out of control.”

The team determined that Chapter 11 bankruptcy would be the best way for the company to eliminate some of its liabilities to create value for shareholders.

“The highlight was assembling the parts and proofing our work at absurd hours of the night,” Berry said. “I think we all gained a deep appreciation for each other, the caliber of work and care that we invested, and the different strengths that each member brought to the project.”

The MBA graduates are now using their skills at accounting firms, investment banks and other corporations. Berry, an advisor on mergers,  acquisitions and operations for an investment bank, said team members are grateful to their advisor, finance professor Dr. David Springate, and the mentors who provided working-world perspective.

Springate, co-founder and director of the Center for Finance Strategy Innovation, said the team’s work was exceptional for its insight into reviving a corporation their report said was in a “near terminal state.” Springate, founder and academic director of the Executive MBA Program, teaches the corporate restructuring and turnarounds course, which he said was developed in part after the Dallas/Forth Worth TMA Chapter expressed a need for business recovery training.

“The students provided expert analysis and planning to show how a corporation that has lost substantial ground can renew itself in a highly competitive and changing industry,” Springate said. “We are proud to offer a finance program that has helped three Jindal School teams take three top prizes in the TMA competition in the past three years.”

The Carl Marks Student Paper Competition recognizes outstanding student achievement in the field of corporate renewal. The papers are evaluated for relevance to issues pertinent to corporate distress, financial structuring and reorganization, originality of the subject and its interpretation, depth and quality of analysis and well-written, clearly constructed and thorough treatment of the subject.

Last year, student Chris Clark received second-place honors in the case analysis category for his paper, “Turnaround of Sears Holdings,” with Springate as his advisor. And with finance senior lecturer and real estate program associate director George DeCourcy as his advisor, alumnus Sudhanshu Jain won first place in the 2011 case analysis competition with his study, “Restructuring Zale Corp.” Jain served as a mentor to this year’s winning team.

Media Contact: Kim Horner, UT Dallas, (972) 883-4463 kim.horner@utdallas.edu
or the Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, newscenter@utdallas.edu.


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