Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Power failure

Massive power failure in the Marylebone area and the School was not spared. It started at around 2pm and at 4pm, the lights were still off. The security decided to evacuate the buildings and close the School given that after 4.30pm, there is not much you can do without light. I wonder how it happened! I mean, there was no storm today so why did the power went down? Anyway, I won't loose sleep over it.

Otherwise, I'm flying to New York tomorrow for a few days... That's so great! I can't wait to be back in the Big Apple. I'll post some pictures of Central Park under the snow. I'm coming back next Tuesday and it will be a busy week since our team has been selected to participate to the internal London Business School VCIC competition. Therefore the week-end just after my trip to New York will be spent on analyzing business plans, select companies in which to invest and defend our choices in front of a panel of venture capitalists. The winning team of the internal competition will participate to the semi-finals in the US a week later. Cool!

Monday, February 20, 2006

Brits are leaving the country

While some of us are moving to the UK for work or studies, an increasing number of British citizen are leaving their island to find greener pasture elsewhere. Le Monde (in French) reports that 350,000 UK residents, of which 60% are British citizen, have left the country in 2005. This is the highest number ever registered. Main reasons for this departure are the search for a better quality of life and they are looking to the US, Australia/NZ, Canada and Europe for this.

I agree that life is very expensive in the UK, especially in London and that the weather could be better but overall, it’s not that bad for a young graduate. However, I don’t see myself growing old here and we have already decided that we won’t stay more than 5 or 6 years here. Yet, I have no idea where the next step will be: move to Asia, go back to France, enjoy life in Spain or eventually embrace the American Dream in New York or California… Who knows!

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Some MBA news

As reported by fellow blogger The Divine Miss N, the Marquee has been taken down, thus marking the end of the Milkround for internship recruiting. There is nothing to worry about if you did not secure an internship yet, since many offers are still going to come through the Career Services… In my case, I secured an internship in April so, even though it’s easier said than done, there is no need to stress (yet)…

For the second year students, there are no official statistics yet but recruitment seems to be quite good this year. Many second year students have accepted a full time offer and some of them are already working or going to start in a few weeks. My strategy is to start working after the summer break since this is probably the last year where I will be able to take 2 months of vacation!

Concerning the courses, 3 of my 4 classes are very good this term. However, I’m a bit disappointed by my fourth one: the Professor is using cases that are 10 to 15 years old and the lectures are quite boring. This is really a shame since the subject is quite interesting. This poor level of teaching is however an exception at the London Business School where most of the Professors are world class.

I’ve also registered to the VCIC competition that is starting next week. Basically, a team of five students is playing the role of a venture capitalist firm with some money to invest in real businesses. The winner of the internal London Business School competition will go to New York for the semi-finals against top East Coast US Schools. It would be really cool to defend the colors of the School there but let’s not get carried away since there are 18 teams to compete against in the internal round.

Finally, the School has put a link on its web site to some student blogs (including mine). This is cool since it’s increasing my traffic but I just want to highlight that the postings on this blog are reflecting my personal views only.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Foreign students in France

Le Monde has an article on exchange students registered in top French Grandes Ecoles and on their views on France. Quite interesting (but in French).

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Cherry Guevara

You gotta love marketing... El Commandante, the Cuban guerilla leader of the 60s is now a type of ice cream from Mangum (Unilever). According to the Washington Post who relates the story, the label has the following:
"The revolutionary struggle of the cherries was squashed as they were trapped between two layers of chocolate," reads the copy on the wrapper. "May their memory live on in your mouth."
The packaging is great...

And the ice cream looks good:

I wonder what the Che would think about all this :)

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Week end off

Was in Hamburg for the week end to meet with old friends from Africa. It was nice to be back in Germany and get some delicious wurst and good Heifeweisen beer... I've lived in Berlin a few years ago and although I did not like it too much, I still enjoy travelling back to Germany for a few days. It's cheap, people are friendly and the beer is excelent :) Hamburg is quite a nice city but it was freezing when we were there.

Picture of the Elbe - courtesy of my girlfriend's blog

The cold did not prevent us from having good fun in Reeperbahn/St Pauli district and it was definitely a nice week end.

The next trip is in 2 weeks to visit another friend in New York. I'm so happy to be back there, even for a few days. I really had so much fun during the two years that I've spent in the Big Apple that each time I get the chance to fly back there, I'm taking it...

Thursday, February 02, 2006

India is unhappy with the French reaction

As stated, I'm closely following the Mittal-Arcelor deal. Don't ask me why since I've never work in steel and probably never will!

The political reactions:

As expected, the governments of France, Luxembourg and Spain have rejected the offer. Although the French and the Spanish governments are not shareholders of Arcelor, they justified their position by arguing they are stakeholders in the deal (with Arcelor's 30,000 employees in France and 15,000 in Spain, this is probably true). Luxembourg is the largest shareholder with roughly 5% of the equity and is not going to tender its share to the bid.

The EU did not state a position and basically is not going to block the merger. There is indeed little overlap in the two companies and no fears of anti-competition issues. Belgium, which is also a shareholder of Arcelor did not criticize the deal.

However, after India voiced its concerns about the French reaction, the French government lowered its tone and announced that it was going to limit its role in the defence of Arcelor, which is probably the right thing to do given that they are not shareholders of Arcelor.

The bid

Mittal did not raise its offer and does not plan to do so. This is now in the hand of the shareholders who will have to decide to tender or not. The main defence followed by Arcelor is to attack the corporate governance of Mittal. It's true that there are some issues here. The largest steel company in the world would basically be run as a familly business with dad as the CEO and the 29 years old son as the CFO and the daughter on the board. The Mittal familly, with its use of preferred shares, would control 75% of the votes with only 51% of the capital and in today's world of transparency, this may prove a stumbling block for shareholders.

Next steps

It's now in the hand of the shareholders and I'm guessing that in the abscence of a white knight, there is not much Arcelor can do to resist Mittal. But we'll see.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

The most expensive beer in the world.

How much would you pay for a bottle of beer? I mean a real good beer, not your Budweiser or Heineken from the pub next door? Boston Brewing think that consumers could pay up to $100 for a bottle of Sam Adams Utopia and although this is the most expensive beer, other producers are lining up high end products as well. Come on, $100 a bottle... this is crasy but then again, some wine bottles go for much much more than that so why not...