Saturday, December 17, 2005

This is it!

Last class of the term was yesterday. The block week (ie: 5 intensive days of class on the same subject) in "Mergers Acquisitions and Alliances" was very interesting. There was a different teacher each day and external speakers almost every day. Did you know that on average, 70% of the M&A end up destroying value... In the end, only bankers, lawyers and consultants are making money :) Of course, the keyword here is "on average" since some deals are hugely successful. We studied in detail how Microsoft is integrating start-ups in its environment (the Vermeer case from HBS); we looked at alternatives to M&A such as Alliances and how you should design and implement them to make sure they are useful; we had the Director of Strategy from WPP in class to explain us the approach of the group to acquisitions...

But that's history now. I have a 6am flight tomorrow for Douala and I can't wait to spend 2 weeks in Africa. I'll try to write on the blog during my stay there but don't expect too much.

I'll be back in January for the Brand Management block week, another class I'm looking forward to. In the meantime, best wishes to all my readers for Xmas and the New Year.

Monday, December 05, 2005

FT ranking

London Business School is ranking #1 among European Business Schools according to the Financial Times. The full-time MBA is ranked #1 for the second consecutive year in front of INSEAD and IMD. The Executive MBA also rank #1 according to the newspaper. Download all the results here.

In the same edition of the FT, there is a column by Laura Tyson, the dean of London Business School, about management and other issues related to the education of leaders.

One exam and a block-week before holidays!

Two more weeks to go before I'm flying to Douala. I can't wait really since I haven't been back to Africa since 2 years and because I really need a break. But before that, I have to write a paper in World Economy. The subject is as follows: approximately 5-6 page note on an economic country, institution or issue of your choice. We stress that we are not after a repeat of an EIU country note. We want you to choose an issue and use the economic frameworks that this course and the core macro course provide to structure your arguments and provide insights. You can choose any country you wish (including those not covered in the course)
If you have an idea for a subject, you are welcome to send me an email or post a comment. I'm currently thinking about writing on sub-Saharan Africa or the Digital Divide but I need to check if I can find reliable data on those issues. I need to finish that before the end of the week since I'm taking a block week starting next Monday (that's an intensive 10 lectures class packed in 5 days) on Mergers Acquisitions and Alliances. Hope it will be good.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Want to do business in Africa?

You might want to read this article first. It's quite long but very enjoyable: it details the story of AES, an American utility company who is running the entire power network of Cameroon. The first batch of US managers did a terrible job by not adapting to the cultural issues of Africa such as accepting a slaughter of animals by chiefs and marabouts to make the rains come so that the hydro-electrics dams could run... Clearly not something you learn in business school, or as an American familliar with Cameroon's power sector says about the country:
"I can take the best executive in the world, put him in Cameroon, and by noon he’ll be curled up under his desk in the fetal position"
A Cameroonian-born engineer is now in charge of AES business in the country and he managed to turn around the company by relentlessly fighting against internal corruption and power thievery. The story is not over yet and many things could still go wrong at AES Cameroon but that's one of the few stories about a successful private investment in Africa.

I'm actually going back to Cameroon this Xmas. My first (and only) time there was in 1995 and many things must have changed but I'm sure I'm really going to have a fantastic time there. I'll post some pictures of the electric installations of AES if I can :)

Skype 2.0

Skype has launched its v2 with visio-conference capabilities. It's still in beta but apparently quite stable so I'll try the upgrade this week-end. I hope it works well so that I can ditch the lousy combination of Skype for voice and MSN for video. But enough blogging; I have my Spanish exam tomorrow and a Finance 2 exam on Saturday (yep Saturday) so some study time is required.