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Trends in the private equity sector in 2017

Interview with WHU-Professor Garen Markarian

Private equity is one of the most modern investment tools available, with a history of less than 30 years. Essentially, private equity means that a group of high net worth individuals and institutions (such as pension funds), pool together funds and hire a professional management team, that then invests on their behalf.

The rationale: Why put savings with professional equity/bond investors, when you can have much higher returns investing in private companies? The number of companies owned by private equity, globally, exceeds $3b in the latest surveys: anywhere from the Hilton, Formula 1, Hugo Boss, and Hertz are owned by private equity (PE).

We interviewed Professor Garen Markarian, who teaches in WHU´s “Value Creation in Private Equity & Venture Capital Program”, on recent developments in the private equity sector.

WHU Executive Education: Professor Markarian, you are specialized in financial accounting, corporate finance and private equity. Is the private equity sector stable or do you expect changes? Are there differences in the markets in Germany and the rest of Europe?

Professor Garen Markarian: The last recent years have been a boom period for the wealthy. If there was ever a period where the ”rich are getting richer“ and the ”poor are not getting richer“, then that would be today. Now, without getting into philosophical discussions as to why this has happened, I would like to say that the most recent wealth accumulation by rich individuals and organizations, has led to a massive boom for the PE industry. The PE activity now has exceeded that of 2007, with more and more funds going into southern European countries, and east all the way to the Russian frontier.

WHU Executive Education: What are top issues for the private equity sector in 2017?

Professor Garen Markarian: Well, having boom times has its drawbacks. When there is too much money floating around, things become expensive. The wise person would invest extremely careful in today’s inflated valuations. Nevertheless, we still see a lot of money flowing in, and you suspect that a lot of these investments are not justified by their fundamentals. If I were to predict, we will witness a lot more bankruptcies five years on from today, because some investments were done over-exuberantly today. Greed – we know its consequences.

WHU Executive Education: What would you recommend to PE companies to be prepared for in 2017?

Professor Garen Markarian: More investments into South America, Africa, and the western part of Asia. There are strong headwinds in Europe and the USA, and if I were to be a pessimist, I would worry about the negative political fallbacks from European politics, combined with poor policy making in the USA.

WHU Executive Education: Thank you very much, Professor Markarian!

Would you like to improve your knowledge in private equity?

Learn more about WHU´s Value Creation in Private Equity & Venture Capital Program for managers: (LINK)


WHU Certified In Programs – FAQ

Since December 2016, WHU Executive Education offers a new program format: The Certified In Programs.

We have compiled Frequently Asked Questions for you:

What is a “WHU Certified In Program”?
WHU Certified In Programs are short courses on MBA level specializing in management topics. Upon successful completion of a “WHU Certified In Program”, participants will be awarded a WHU certificate with 8 ECTS which are valid when pursuing an MBA at WHU.

What is the target group of WHU´s Certified In Programs?
The Certified In Programs are targeted at young managers who have gained 2-5 years of professional experience in various sectors. They are specially designed for professionals interested in certain parts of an MBA, or those who do not have the time or resources to attend a full MBA program.

Which topics do the WHU Certified In Programs cover?
There are 3 different WHU Certified In Programs: Finance & Accounting Program, Strategy & Organization Program, Marketing & Sales Program. Each program consists of 4 or 5 courses, which you can find on our website.

What is the format of the WHU Certified In Programs?
Every WHU Certified in Program consists of 4 courses. Some Programs offer 5 courses of which 4 are selected on enrolment. Each course comprises 3 days of teaching and is held only on Saturdays and Sundays. To receive a certification with 8 ECTS credits, you are bound to one of the named “WHU Certified in Programs” and participate fully in all 4 four courses and pass an exam at the end of the courses.

It is also possible to participate in just one course or several courses different from the offered WHU Certified in Programs.

When do the WHU Certified In Programs take place?
Program dates are updated regularly and will be published on the respective website. Courses are held on Saturdays and Sundays.

What is the program / course language?
All courses will be held in English.

Where do the WHU Certified In Programs take place?
The WHU Certified In Programs take place at WHU Campus Düsseldorf, Germany.

Do I get a Certificate of Attendance?
Yes. A Certificate of Participation will be granted for every taken course. ECTS credits will be awarded only upon successful completion of a WHU Certified Program (including participation in 4 courses and passed exams).

What are the fees for the WHU Certified In Programs?
Full ‘WHU Certified In Program’ (4 courses; accredited):
€5,000 including tuition, Certificate (incl. ECTS credits), session materials, case studies, and most meals; excluding accommodation.

Single courses (non-accredited):
€1,500 including tuition, Certificate of Participation (excl. ECTS credits), session materials, case studies, and most meals; excluding accommodation.

Our program fees are VAT-exempt.


A way of negotiating: Football leaks – never waste a scandal

Corporations are continuously faced with high levels of uncertainty from numerous sources and are always looking for ways to deal with this issue. Besides uncovering questionable practices in the world of football, Football Leaks has also provided a unique perspective into the way football clubs and players negotiate contingent contracts to deal with uncertainty. Only in their case, uncertainty does not stem from changing raw material prices, volatile markets, fluctuating exchange rates, natural disasters, or simply different views on how a business is going to develop. Instead, players, their agents, and the clubs protect themselves from uncertainties revolving around the future development, performance, behavior, and movement of players.

One of the biggest uncertainties of player transfers in football revolves around the future development of young players. In some cases they exceed expectations, in others they fall short of what the buying club had hoped for. Especially with the skyrocketing prices of talented players, misjudging a player’s potential can be incredibly costly. The transfer of French striker Anthony Martial from AS Monaco to Manchester United is a great example of how football clubs deal with this issue. In addition to a base fee of €50 million for the at the time 19-year-old, the two clubs also agreed on a number of contingencies. Manchester United agreed to pay up to €30 million contingent on the number of goals scored by Martial, his national team appearances and whether he is nominated for the Ballon D’Or. Besides the reduction of risk on both sides, this arrangement also removes the necessity to convince the other side of your future expectations in order to strike a deal.

An example of dealing with uncertainty from the player’s perspective was the deal between German player Kevin Volland and his club at the time 1899 Hoffenheim in 2015. In his contract, they included a clause that allowed Volland to transfer to another club for a fixed fee of €7.5 million in the case that Hoffenheim get relegated to the 2. Bundesliga (Germany’s second highest division in professional football). That way, Volland protected himself from having to stay at the club in case of relegation and was willing to sign a long-term contract until 2019.

The Football Leaks have also uncovered very specific and sometimes even seemingly obscure contingencies. When the Italian player Mario Balotelli transferred to Liverpool FC, he was known for his eccentric behavior on and off the football pitch. In order to protect themselves from his antics, Liverpool decided to include a good conduct clause in Balotelli’s contract. This clause ensured that he received a bonus payment of £1 million for not spitting at opponents or engaging in violent conduct on the pitch.

Other contingent agreements are in place to prevent the competition from getting hold of certain players. For example, when Real Madrid sold Mesut Özil to Arsenal FC they secured a special clause in the negotiation. If Arsenal intends to accept an offer for Özil from another Spanish football club, they have to inform Real Madrid about the details of that offer and then Madrid has the opportunity to buy Özil instead at the exact same conditions as the other offer. That way, Real Madrid can take action and interfere in case any of their rival clubs might attempt to strengthen their team by assigning Özil.

These agreements show the power of negotiating contingent agreements once they have been widely accepted as an industry standard. They reduce the threat of uncertainty, eliminate the need to find common ground on predictions of an uncertain future, create value at the negotiation table, and facilitate deals that would otherwise not be possible. It is important that managers realize the value of using contingencies in negotiations and overcome the typical internal resistance against these deals which are often unfortunately seen as too complex or interpreted as some form of gambling.


Professor Dr. Lutz Kaufmann
Chair of International Business and Supply Chain Management
at WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management,
Academic Director WHU‘s Negotiations Program

Would you like to train your negotiation skills? Learn about our Negotiations Program


WHU wins HR Innovation Award 2016

WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management was honored with the “HR Innovation Award” for its General Management Plus program for managers. The award was presented for the first time to companies at the HRM Expo trade show (German: ‘Zukunft Personal’) in Cologne.

Globalization, digitalization, and fast-moving business demand new and innovative solutions in the development and continuing education of managers. The HR Innovation Award was developed to award companies contributing innovative products and services to the HR sector.

The General Management Plus continuing education program, offered by the Executive Education department at WHU, was the winner in the Continuing Education and E-Learning category. A jury drawn from the media, the academic world, and business chose the winners in four different categories. The awards were presented to each of the winners in the four categories at an official awards ceremony on October 18.

The General Management Plus program (GMP+) features a special combination of taught theoretical business management skills and the direct practical application of what has been learned. The acquired knowledge is applied in a socio-entrepreneurial project. Participants work in intercultural, virtual teams to establish a learning center in an emerging nation in Asia within the continuing education program. The program is offered in cooperation with the non-profit organization BOOKBRIDGE.

More about the General Management Plus Program


WHU @ gamescom 2016

The number of visitors says it all. gamescom, held in Cologne between August 17 and 21, 2016, recorded 345,000 visitors, making it the world’s largest event for computer and video games. WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management has been a partner of gamescom, which is organized by the German Trade Association of Interactive Entertainment Software BIU, since 2015.

Explaining the motivation for this partnership, Dr. Peter Kreutter, Director of the WHU Foundation and Managing Director of the Wipro Center for Business Resilience at WHU, says, “The effects of digitalization and gamification are already reaching into areas like industry, medicine and even the charity sector. Virtual and augmented reality or serious gaming are only a few of the keywords. We wish to provide our students, alumni, friends and donors with access to this exciting growth industry. On the other hand, we also wish to actively help the games industry to further develop using our research and training expertise in the area of general management.”

Dr. Maximilian Schenk, Managing Director of the BIU, welcomes WHU’s commitment, “The significance of gamescom as a 360° event for the future of digital entertainment and the digitalization of our society is constantly growing. With WHU as a leading business school, we have found a partner that understands the dynamics and global dimension of our industry like few others. WHU’s expertise and its outstanding network among businesspeople, alumni and non-profit organizations are a huge enrichment for our work – not just during gamescom.”

For example, at gamescom congress WHU held a panel discussion entitled “Growth in Digital Industries: Leadership, Strategy, Staff Development”, where Marie-Blanche Stössinger from Wooga, as a representative of the games industry, discussed the various opportunities in these areas with Christopher Suff, digitalization specialist at Wipro, and Rebecca Winkelmann, Managing Director WHU Executive Education.

The “WHU Executives & Kids @ gamescom” event, successfully established in 2015, was expanded at this year’s gamescom and was able to welcome over 90 participants over three days. Together with the foundation Digitale Spielekultur, the WHU Foundation, the Haniel Foundation and the Vodafone Foundation had invited directors and CEOs of foundations and non-profit organizations together with their children to “Foundations @ gamescom”. The aim was to establish gamification and serious gaming for the third sector by turning children into mentors for digital game environments. This was supplemented by discussions and an exchange of views with management representatives from leading games producers. Olaf Coenen and Martin Lorber from Electronic Arts, Ralf Reichert (ESL) and Jan Miczaika (Wooga) accordingly reported on the latest developments and strategies in their respective fields.

The highlight, however, was undoubtedly a meeting with prominent YouTubers LeFloid and two members of PietSmiet, who informed the foundation representatives about their social projects and fund-raising campaigns. Last year, LeFloid together with other YouTubers raised 76,000 euros in the second round of their “Loot for the World” campaign. YouTubers associated with PietSmiet collected in excess of 100,000 euros for charities in twelve hours with their #FriendlyFire charity streaming event.

The next joint event between BIU and WHU is already scheduled to take place on October 27, 2016, in Berlin in the shape of the “WHU Hauptstadt-Dialog”. WHU Executive Education will also be offering a continuing education program entitled Design Thinking on October 26 and 27, 2016, for all those interested in the subject of “Digital Transformation”.


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WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management

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