Reflection on the 2023 National Investment Banking Competition

In December 2022, my team (Connor White, Carson Gabelein, Sarah-Maude Fortin, and Henry Robison) and I competed in the 2023 National Investment Banking Competition (NIBC), finishing fourth from over 800 universities in the leading global investment banking case competition.

The competition focuses on providing realistic case studies based on current market information and authentic transaction proposal situations. NIBC is broken up into two stages: the remote first round and a final round in Vancouver for the top 50 competitors.
The work began as soon as we finished registration. The case was released during winter break, so our first few meetings were held over Zoom. Upon receiving the case, we were shocked by the density of the assignment, with over 90 pages of case instructions and a deadline three weeks away. But we welcomed the opportunity to showcase our skills to top firms and represent the University of Washington and the Foster School of Business on a global scale.

This year, the competition focused on the Dental Service Organization (DSO) industry and one of the largest players in the space, Dentalcorp. Dentalcorp had been experiencing pressure on its share price since its IPO in 2021 and launched a strategic review at the end of 2022. The question was what the company should do to maximize shareholder value and whether DNTL could potentially be acquired.

We were tasked with developing a comprehensive presentation analyzing the company and industry, valuation of Dentalcorp via discounted cash flow, trading comparables, precedent transactions, and leveraged buyout analyses. Our team spent significant time conducting industry research, building financial models, and analyzing all the information to determine wat made the most sense for Dentalcorp.

Things got more challenging as our exceptional teammate Sarah-Maude Fortin had to leave for Hawaii to represent UW at a tennis tournament, which meant we had to submit 10 days early. We worked tirelessly and recorded our submission video at 2 a.m. the night before Sarah-Maude had to leave — hopefully not at the expense of UW tennis!

After we submitted the first-round material, we waited two weeks to hear if we would receive an invitation to Vancouver for the final rounds, in which 50 teams from over 800 initial entries would make live pitches in front of elite sell-side and buy-side professionals from firms including Goldman Sachs, BlackRock, and Moelis & Co.

We received the good news that were selected to advance. Unfortunately Sarah-Maude’s tennis commitments meant she would not be able to attend the final rounds. Paras Singh took her place, ably picking up right where Sarah-Maude left off.

Soon we were on our way to Vancouver. Upon arrival, we were briefed with the agenda for the weekend. We were notified that we would receive an updated case at 6 a.m the following morning and would have just seven hours to prepare a new presentation.

Everyone locked-in bright and early in the morning as the case opens up for contestants.

The next morning, we were up at dawn to receive the case. The new case tasked us with proposing either a take-private of Dentalcorp or a DSO roll-up to the private equity sponsor. The pressure was on, and we immediately got to work. The next seven hours consisted of frantic research, analysis, several pivots, and rapid discussions. It was a high-pressure environment dependent on clear communication, trust, and efficiency. We submitted our slide deck and models with just eight seconds to spare before the deadline.

We took a quick breather before doing two practice run-throughs of our presentation before present in front of Scotia Bank. After the presentation, we breathed a sigh of relief, proud of our efforts.

After dinner, the organizers announced who would be moving on, and we were ecstatic to find out we made the cut as one of the top 10 final teams, beating out fellow PAC-12 rivals UCLA and USC. We then spent another restless night editing our presentation and fortifying our research, working until 3 a.m. The following day, we shared our final presentation with executives from BlackRock’s private equity group, and then were thrilled to learn we were awarded fourth-place honors.

Outside of the competition, we attended the investment banking panel consisting of analysts, and managing directors at Goldman Sachs, Moelis, Scotiabank, and BMO. There was also a private equity panel with employees from BlackRock, Warburg Pincus, and others. The final keynote speaker event was the CEO of Canadian DSO 123Dentist. It was fascinating to get the various perspectives on the DSO industry from sell-side, buy-side, and operational professionals.

There was also time for fun. We attended gala dinners, explored the city of Vancouver, and met some amazing peers along the way. Highlights included a trip to the famous Grandville Island, which felt like a big brother to Pike Place with its endless array of delicious food, coffee, and desserts.

An array of just a few of the delicacies found on Grandville Island

Overall this was one of the most memorable experiences in our time at UW. The intense hands-on experience and intimate team environment has already proven to be monumental in our career development. The exposure to exceptional professionals shaped our future aspirations. It was amazing to have the opportunity to represent UW and Foster at an international competition. We would highly recommend other students participate. Finally, we would like to thank Foster and the Finance Department for their sponsorship and support to make this trip possible!

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