Archive for October, 2010

Top traders converge on Tulane for Energy Trading Competition

Thursday, October 28th, 2010

Student traders from Rutgers, the University of Texas at Austin, Tulane and Northwestern took the top honors at the 2010 Tulane Energy Trading Competition, but according to some participants, the biggest reward for taking part in the competition wasn’t the cash prizes or professional trading products awarded to the winners. It was the chance to rub shoulders with an all-star lineup of industry professionals.

Twenty-eight of the nation’s top student traders faced off in this year’s Tulane Energy Trading Competition, which in just two years has become one of the leading events for both students and industry recruiters.

“You got to meet the people who actually do this for a living, and they got to see how you perform in real-world situations,” says Tulane MBA student Michael Grubbs, who placed fourth in the competition. “I met everybody from natural gas traders to industry executives to a scheduler at a refinery and got good-quality one-on-one contact with dozens of industry professionals. Hopefully, in the next few weeks, I’ll start getting some phone calls and we’ll see if we can turn this into a job offer.”

In just two years, the Tulane Energy Trading Competition has grown into one of the leading annual events for both students seeking careers in trading and energy executives seeking the best young talent. This year, 174 students from 33 universities took part in the remote round of the competition—more than twice the number of last year’s participants—and more than 40 industry executives attended the live final round and served as guest judges.

Freeman School student Michael Grubbs (MBA ’11) won fourth place in this year's competition.

“The growth of the competition, both in terms of student interest and industry participation, speaks volumes about its quality,” says Joe LeBlanc, professor of practice at Tulane’s Freeman School of Business and organizer of the competition. “Students are eager to demonstrate their skills in a real-world trading environment, and industry executives are interested in seeing firsthand how potential recruits handle the pressures and manage risk.”

The final round of the competition took place on Saturday (Oct. 23) in the Freeman School’s Trading Center, a state-of-the-art simulated trading floor equipped with industry-leading software, hardware and analytical tools from the CME Group, Trading Technologies, Thomson Reuters and LIM. Over the course of one extraordinarily intense day, the top 28 students from the remote round put their skills to the test trading live natural gas futures and refinery crack spreads using a proprietary simulation that industry professionals call the most realistic energy-trading exercise available in a university setting.

Tulane’s energy trading competition is unique for its strong emphasis on risk management and responsible trading. While other competitions determine prize winners solely on the basis of profits and losses, Tulane ranks participants according to risk-adjusted PnL and puts the ultimate decision in the hands of a panel of judges, industry experts charged with critically assessing the quality of the students’ strategies and how they handle the pressure.

For the first time, the competition's judges participated in the refinery crack spread session, adding volatility to the market and testing the traders' skills.

“I wasn’t necessarily looking for the person who made the most money,” explains Berney Aucoin, a vice president with Sequent Energy Management, who served as one of this year’s judges. “I was looking for someone who made money but also managed risk accordingly and demonstrated the ability to critically think through situations they weren’t prepared for. Getting into the students’ heads and understanding their critical thinking process was really enlightening.”

“It was one of the best, most realistic simulations I’ve ever seen,” adds competition judge Mike Henson, manager of infrastructure strategy with Chevron Products Co. “It was intense and focused, and that’s exactly the way life is out on the trading desk. Seeing how the students dealt with the pressure was just incredibly dynamic.”

This year, the competition added a new wrinkle to its trading sessions with the judges taking on the position of heating oil buyers in the refinery crack spread session and actively participating in the market.

“Having the judges trade with the students added more volatility to the market, and volatility is a trader’s best friend,” says Steve Landry, senior vice president at Marathon Oil, another of this year’s judges.  “Volatility creates opportunities for the students, and we as judges were able to see how they responded to that volatility, so I think it was a great idea.”

Rodrigo Polezel, a student from Rutgers University, won first place and a prize package of nearly $100,000.

Rutgers University student Rodrigo Polezel, who won first place in this year’s event, says the competition’s use of the Tulane Energy Risk Index—which penalized students who took on excessive risk—helped to make the trading sessions more representative of the real world.

“In real life, if you lose more than 5 percent of your capital, you’re going to get fired, and that’s what this competition showed you,” Polezel says. “The index definitely made me be more aware of my risks.”

In addition to Polezel, the top three finishers also included Robert Ettinger of the University of Texas at Austin, who earned second-place honors, and Alex Santos of Rutgers, who won third place.

Each of the three top finishers received a prize package valued at nearly $100,0000, including cash prizes ranging from $500 to $1,500, a one-year license for Thomson Reuters Eikon, a one-year license for LIM’s MIMIC and XMIM software, and a one-year license for the Imagine Trading System.

For finishing fourth and fifth in the competition, Grubbs and Northwestern University student Rory Sandstrom each received a one-year license for Thomson Reuters Eikon and LIM’s MIMIC and XMIM software.

The 2010 Tulane Energy Trading Competition was underwritten by the CME Group and sponsored by Trading Technologies, Thomson Reuters, LIM, Imagine Software, Entergy, Global Association of Risk Professionals (GARP), Mirant, Sequent Energy and Accenture.

Tulane Energy Trading Competition sponsors

Competition organizer Joe LeBlanc, seated, with some of the 40 energy and trading professionals who attended this year’s competition as judges or event sponsors.

For more information about the competition and the complete list of winners, visit http://freeman.tulane.edu/trading/

To see more photos from the competition, visit the Freeman School’s Flickr page.


Accounting goes extreme in PwC xACT Competition

Wednesday, October 27th, 2010

Twelve teams of Freeman School students put their skills to the test on Friday (Oct. 22) as participants in the PricewaterhouseCoopers xACT Competition, one of the nation’s leading case competitions for accounting and business students.

Right Stuff Convergence, a team of five Freeman students, won first place and the right to represent Tulane in the national xACT Competition. Left to right, Max Ryan, Whitney Aerenson, Christine Ouder, Patrick Murphy and Michael McIver.

The xACT Competition—short for xTREME Accounting—is part of the PricewaterhouseCoopers xTREME Games, which were launched in 2002 to increase students’ exposure to professional services and the world of public accounting. Each year, more than 150,000 students nationwide participate in PwC’s xACT and xTAX competitions to test their skills on challenging cases, gain a greater understanding of career opportunities in public accounting and make valuable connections with professionals in the industry.

This year marked the first time that Tulane University participated in the competition, and according to Christine Smith, professor of practice in accounting and faculty mentor for the competition, the organizers couldn’t be more pleased with the response.

“When PricewaterhouseCoopers first asked me to serve as faculty mentor, I told them that because this was our first year participating, I’d be happy to get two to three teams,” says Smith. “To have 12 teams and 60 students competing for the right to represent Tulane in the nationals was truly amazing.”

Five PwC partners served as judges and provided valuable feedback to participants. Left to right, judges Ted Orihel, Kathy Nieland, Brett Parrish and Casey Herman.

The 12 teams—each made up of five business students—began preparing for the contest on Oct. 8, when they met with Kathy Nieland, managing partner of PwC’s New Orleans office, and received the case they’d be working on. Over the next two weeks, the students spent many hours analyzing the case and developing solutions to the real-world problems posed in the case.

On Oct. 22, the teams presented those solutions to a distinguished panel of PwC partners who served as judges for the competition, including Nieland, Casey Herman, an audit partner in PwC’s Chicago office; and Ted Orihel, Brett Parrish and David Crabtree, audit partners in PwC’s Houston office.

Each team delivered a 12-minute PowerPoint presentation and then faced 10 minutes of tough questioning from the judges. When the video cameras were turned off at the conclusion of each presentation, Smith says the judges made it a point to spend a few extra minutes with each team, offering its members a candid critique of their presentation.

“I can’t think of another opportunity where students can get that sort of valuable feedback from partners in a Big Four public accounting firm,” she says. “It was just a fantastic experience.”

Alpha Kappa Psi took second place in the competition. From left to right, David Poor, Arielle Drucker, Joe Dixon, Rachel Morales and Philip Applebaum.

Right Stuff Convergence, a team made up of Freeman students Christine Ouder, Patrick Murphy, Max Ryan, Whitney Aerenson and Michael McIver, won first place in the competition, while Alpha Kappa Psi, which featured Philip Applebaum, David Poor, Joe Dixon, Rachel Morales and Arielle Drucker, took second-place honors. Both teams received a prize of $1,250 to split among members.

As the first-place finisher, Right Stuff Convergence earned the right to represent Tulane in the xACT national competition. A video of their presentation will be submitted to a national review committee, which will select the top five presentations from the 45 universities participating in this year’s competition. Those five finalists will receive a cash prize of $10,000 per team and an all-expense-paid trip to New York in January to compete for PwC’s prestigious Montgomery Award, the xACT Competition’s top national prize.

For more information about the 2010 xTREME Games, visit PwC.com.


Times-Picayune: Business students roll up their sleeves at Energy Trading Competition

Tuesday, October 26th, 2010

From The Times-Picayune, Oct. 26, 2010:

Business students from nine universities around North America spent Saturday competing to see who could produce the best results while using simulated portfolios to electronically trade oil and natural gas futures. Rutgers, the University of Texas, and the University of Toronto were among the schools that sent teams to the trading competition.

To read the entire article, visit nola.com:

http://www.nola.com/business/index.ssf/2010/10/business_students_roll_up_thei.html


Financial Times ranks EMBA program among world’s best

Monday, October 25th, 2010

In its latest survey of executive MBA programs at the world’s leading business schools, Financial Times has ranked the Freeman School’s EMBA program 75th in the world and 35th among U.S. business schools. The ranking appeared in the newspaper and on FT.com on Oct. 25.

Finanial Times RankingsFinancial Times bases its ranking on measures of alumni success, program diversity and quality of faculty. Graduates of Freeman’s EMBA program reported an average salary of $159,592 three years after completing the program, and graduates experienced a 45 percent increase in average salary compared with levels prior to entering the program. Freeman’s executive MBA program also earned relatively high marks for both international course experience, which refers to the percentage of classroom teaching hours that are carried out outside the country in which the business school is situated, and aims achieved rank, which refers to the extent to which alumni fulfilled their most important goals or reasons for doing an EMBA.

To see the full executive MBA ranking online, visit FT.com. To learn more about the Freeman School’s EMBA program, visit www.emba.tulane.edu.


Booyah on the Bayou: Cramer brings “Mad Money” to Freeman

Thursday, October 21st, 2010

“Mad Money” host Jim Cramer is famous for his unabashedly bullish take on the stock market, so it was only fitting that the investment guru should bring his CNBC television show to a city like New Orleans and a school like Freeman.

Jim Cramer

Investment guru Jim Cramer brought his CNBC show "Mad Money" to the Freeman School on Tuesday as part of its "Back to School" tour.

“The reason we’re down here at Tulane’s terrific Freeman School of Business is because this place is suffused with optimism!” Cramer announced to thunderous applause from the more than 700 fans packed into Dixon Hall. “On Bourbon Street, the glass or bottle—or go cup—always looks three quarters full, perhaps because the people here know what a lot of water looks like.”

On Tuesday (Oct. 19), Cramer hosted “Mad Money” in front of a live audience at Tulane as part of the show’s “Back to School Tour.” Since 2006, “Mad Money” has visited more than a dozen universities,  including Harvard, Columbia, University of Southern California, Georgetown and University of Texas at Austin, but this was the show’s first visit to the Big Easy, which Cramer said occupies a special place in“Mad Money” lore: His signature catchphrase— “Booyah!”—originated with a caller to Cramer’s show from New Orleans.

On the day of Cramer’s appearance at Tulane, the Dow dropped 165 points, but true to form, Cramer said the loss was nothing but a minor pullback.

Mad Money audience

More than 700 fans packed Dixon Hall on Tulane's campus to cheer on Cramer and be part of “Mad Money.”

“Today’s selloff was not about the facts; the facts were actually pretty darn good,” he said. “It was only the headlines that were bad and they provided a nice excuse for profit taking after a massive rally.”

Beginning with Cramer’s entrance—accompanied by the Green Wave mascot, pompom-waving cheerleaders and the Tulane band playing “When the Saints Go Marching In”—the show had a decidedly local flavor. Early in the broadcast, Cramer interviewed Jim Bernhard, chairman and CEO of the Baton Rouge-based Shaw Group, who made a point of thanking Burkenroad Reports for choosing Shaw as the very first company to cover when the program was founded. Later in the show, Cramer highlighted CenturyLink, a Monroe, La., company that has quietly become the nation’s largest rural telephone company.

While the audience included a few faculty, alumni and guests, the vast majority of the loud, “booyah”-shouting crowd were students. Manish Mishra (BSM ’12) got the chance to ask Cramer about Ray Ozzie’s recent resignation from Microsoft (Cramer thought it was good news for Apple), while Mike Jones (MFIN ’11) asked which stocks would benefit the most from the Haynesville and Marcellus shale developments (Cramer’s pick was Chesapeake Energy). In the Lightning Round, students got Cramer’s rapid-fire take on stocks including Hershey, Citigroup, Weatherford, Intuitive Surgical, Kimco Realty and Petrobras.

Cramer and Liam Kelly

Burkenroad Reports analyst Liam Kelly (MBA ’11) pitched McMoran Exploration, which he said has great long-term prospects despite disappointing Q3 production numbers.

The biggest Freeman School spotlight of the evening was for Burkenroad Reports, which Cramer praised for regularly outperforming the big guys. Toward the end of the show, Cramer invited four Burkenroad analysts onto the stage to pitch their stocks to him. Liam Kelly (MBA ’11) pitched McMoran Exploration, which he defended as a great long-term value despite Cramer’s worries over weak Q3 production numbers. Craig Kolwicz (BSM ’11) pitched Cyberonics, whose “depression box” device—which the company is currently seeking approval for—Cramer called a home run.

Between segments, Cramer joked with the crowd and offered some candid, behind-the-scenes insights about his on-the-air analysis.

“You business school guys will recognize that I’m doing present value analysis and I’m also doing compound interest,” Cramer explained, “but you can’t say that because then people will just turn the channel to CNN or something.”

To see the full “Mad Money” at Tulane show online, visit CNBC.com.


Freeman hosts 2010 Tulane Energy Trading Competition

Monday, October 18th, 2010

Some of the world’s largest energy trading firms will be at the Freeman School of Business on Saturday, Oct. 23, to see the country’s best collegiate energy traders put their risk strategies to the test in what’s becoming one of the most ambitious and realistic university trading contests.

Tulane Energy Trading Competition

In just two years, the Tulane Energy Trading Competition has become one of the nation's premier trading events for both students and industry recruiters.

In just two years, the Tulane Energy Trading Competition has not only established itself as proving ground for students to test their skills using the most cutting-edge, real-time trading simulation software, but it has also developed into a prime recruiting opportunity for leading energy firms. The success of last year’s event led the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME Group) – the largest and most diverse exchange in the world – to partner with the Freeman School to underwrite the competition.

This year’s 28 finalists earned their place by successfully trading for two weeks, amongst a group of 174 students from 33 top-ranked universities, with simulated accounts against the live crude oil and natural gas futures markets. All of the students used Trading Technologies and Thomson Reuters professional software and were ranked based on their risk-adjusted returns.

“This is a demanding event on the students that have participated thus far. We are challenging them to use the same markets, trading software and risk management criteria that the top energy firms employ,” says Joe LeBlanc, director of the Freeman School’s Trading Center. “The finalists will now be challenged to not only trade against one of the most sophisticated energy trading simulations in the marketplace, but will be required to present their trading strategies and explain their ultimate results before our outstanding panel of top energy trading executives who will determine the top five university energy traders. This is difficult. This is what it takes to be the best.”

In addition to approximately $375,000 in cash and cash equivalent prizes from sponsors, the students will compete for an opportunity to be selected for internships and jobs at participating firms.

Joe LeBlanc

Organizer Joe LeBlanc says the competition was designed to emphasize the skills that leading energy trading firms are looking for in their recruits.

“We wanted to provide the opportunity for students to continue their education in the energy market by providing them with the leading energy software services from Thomson Reuters, Logical Information Machine (LIM), Imagine Software and data from the CME Group, which will allow the winners to continue to follow and analyze the energy markets while preparing for careers in this exciting field,” LeBlanc says. Entergy Corp. will award cash prizes of $1,500, $1,000 and $500 to the first, second and third place winners.

The contest even has a twist when judges step in to trade against students in a refinery crack spread simulation. Refinery crack spreads are the margins earned by refineries for converting crude oil into an array of finished products. Students will simultaneously buy and sell crude oil, gasoline and heating oil futures as the judges participate in the heating oil marketplace to gauge how students respond to different real-life market events.

“The goal is to challenge students with actual trading orders of real energy firms which involves reducing risk while securing market trading opportunities for their firm. The idea is to create a trading competition more aligned with what employers want in the marketplace,” LeBlanc says.

Tulane’s Trading Center integrates Trading Technologies’ X_TRADER trading platform, Thomson Reuters news, analytics and charting software, and Logical Information Machine’s analysis and forecasting tools into a seamless, powerful simulation environment that is uniquely linked directly into the CME Group’s wide area network to provide students with the most realistic energy trading environment available today.

Contest judges include top executives from Accenture, Cargill, Chevron, Citigroup, ConocoPhillips, Energy Management Institute, JP Morgan, Lincoln Capital, LIM, Luminant, Marathon Oil, Sempra Energy, Sequent Energy, Shell Trading, Trade Forecaster and Vitol Americas. Student finalists represent 10 schools, including Tulane, Babson College, Carnegie Mellon, Michigan State, Northwestern, Rutgers, Texas A&M, University of Texas at Austin, University of Toronto and Washington University in St. Louis.

Competition sponsors include Trading Technologies, Thomson Reuters, LIM, Imagine Software, Entergy, Global Association of Risk Professionals (GARP), Mirant, Sequent Energy and Accenture. For more information, visit www.trading.tulane.edu.


Taking care of business

Wednesday, October 13th, 2010

Up-and-coming singer-songwriter Sami Khan (BSM ’11) plans to make music his full-time job when he graduates in May, but that doesn’t mean the Freeman School senior is turning his back on business. Khan hopes to use the marketing skills he’s learned in business school to build the “Sami Khan” brand and land a recording contract with a major label.

Sami Khan

Freeman School senior Sami Khan embarks on his first tour under his own name this month. Photo by Claire Barry.

This month, Khan takes a big step toward realizing that goal when he embarks on his first tour leading a band under his own name, an acoustic tour of a dozen high schools across the Southeast.

“I told my friends and they laughed—‘Why are you going to play high schools?’” Khan says. “But high school tours have been successful in the past. The labels actually break their artists into the market by these high school tours, so it’s a commonly accepted way of getting artists a loyal fan base.”

Khan’s booking agency, Cantillon Entertainment Group, has previously booked high school tours for acts including Taylor Swift, “American Idol” finalist Jason Castro and country band Gloriana, all of whom went on to sign major-label success. Khan hopes to follow in their footsteps by winning new fans on tour and then keeping them engaged via social media.

“Record companies are like rich, risk-averse investors,” Khan says. “They only want to buy if they see your stock is going up, and what they look for are YouTube subscribers and Facebook likes. On this tour, my biggest measure of success is not going to be the number of CDs I sell but how many of these kids come back on Facebook or YouTube, find Sami Khan and hit that button.”

Khan first started writing songs when he was 12 years old, but it took a soccer injury in high school to launch his performing career. Laid up in his room recovering from surgery, Khan was unable to complete his senior project—a requirement for graduation—so he proposed writing and recording a song to satisfy the requirement. The song he wrote, “100 Years,” became a huge hit with classmates at Destrehan High School and inspired Khan to continue writing and recording.

At Tulane student, Khan formed a band, Keeping Crescent, and performed at clubs around New Orleans as well as opening for Augustana at last year’s homecoming. When Khan’s lead guitarist—his older brother—left the band to focus on his law career, Khan decided to rebrand the band under his own name since he planned to commit himself to music after graduation. Since then, Khan has signed with a New York-based manager who also serves as director of college marketing at WEA Corp., a connection he hopes will help open doors for him.

In the end, Khan says he’ll be happy with whichever direction his musical career takes him.

“If my songwriting career takes off and I’m set for life, great,” he says. “If not, I’ll always have this marketing thesis for grad school.”
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To see more videos by Sami Khan, visit http://www.youtube.com/SamiKhanMusic


Tulane Business Forum looks at leveraging resources

Monday, October 11th, 2010

The Receivables Exchange was founded to connect small- and mid-size businesses in need of working capital with investors, but according to president and co-founder Nicolas Perkin, the biggest innovation the New Orleans-based company brought to factoring wasn’t creating a transparent marketplace for buyers and sellers of commercial receivable. It was enabling buyers to apply the same risk-management principles to receivables that they apply to the rest of their portfolios.

Nic Perkin

Nicolas R. Perkin, co-founder and president of the Receivables Exchange, talked about the company's growth as part of a panel discussion on alternative capital markets.

“Buyers can take 1 percent of 100 different auctions across 100 different industries,” said Perkin (TC ’94). “If you’re going to go buy stock, you’re not going to put all your money in IBM. You don’t do it in any asset class, why would you do it in this asset class? That’s really the fundamental principle of the innovation we think we’ve brought to the table.”

That unique innovation has helped to fuel 300 to 400 percent annual growth at the company, which Perkin said is in the early stages of a preparing for an IPO.

Perkin talked about the evolution of the Receivables Exchange and the current business landscape as part of a panel discussion on alternative capital markets at this year’s Tulane Business Forum. The forum, an annual presentation of the Tulane Association of Business Alumni (TABA), took place at the Sheraton New Orleans Hotel on Oct. 8. This year’s program focused on the theme “Leveraging Corporate Resources,” and more than 650 people attended the forum to hear some of the ways that innovative businesses and business leaders are doing more with less.

Robbie Vitrano, co-founder and chairman of marketing firm Trumpet, told the story of Naked Pizza, which has used social media to grow from a single store in New Orleans to an international business with 400 stores in development in locations as far away as Dubai and Istanbul.

“We used [social media] as a way to get people interested in our idea, primarily using Twitter and Facebook to distribute this conversation in a way that allowed Naked Pizza to acquire two billionaire investors and more than 5,000 franchising inquiries,” Vitrano said. “It allowed for media to get a hold of this idea and start to distribute it. While we were just one location, were were in the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times and blogs around the world. In essence, it allowed us to validate the concept.”

Vitrano added that the low cost and wide reach of social media platforms makes them an ideal tool for businesses to find out what ideas work in a cost-effective way.

“Conceivably, that should favor a place like New Orleans, which isn’t New York or Silicon Valley but which certainly has Net intelligence and Net ingenuity,” he said.

David Brain, president and CEO of Entertainment Properties Trust.

The forum kicked off with a presentation by Charles N. Kahn III, president and CEO of the Federation of AmericanHospitals, who walked attendees through the process of how health reform was enacted and what it will mean for business. Kahn was followed by Vitrano and John Winsor, CEO of Victors & Spoils, a marketing firm based in Boulder, Colo., that, like Trumpet, is using social media technology to accomplish things that previously would have been unthinkable for an agency with just 10 employees.

Joining Perkin on the alternative capital markets panel were J. Marshall Page III, a partner at Jones Walker, and Christopher J. Perry, president and global head of Thomson Reuters Trading Focus Accounts. The panel was moderated by Peter Ricchiuti, assistant dean at the Freeman School and research director of the Burkenroad Reports program.

David Brain (A&S ’78, MBA ’79), president and CEO of Entertainment Properties Trust, a NYSE-traded REIT that focuses on megaplex movie theatres and entertainment retail centers, followed the capital markets discussion with a presentation on the often misunderstood concept of off-balance-sheet financing.

Dean E. Taylor, chairman, president and CEO of Tidewater, talked about the ways the company distinguishes itself in a commodity industry as luncheon keynote speaker.

The forum concluded with a luncheon keynote presentation by Dean E. Taylor (A&S ’71), chairman, president and CEO of Tidewater Inc. Taylor’s presentation focused on distinguishing your company in a commodity industry, and one of the key elements to achieve that goal, he said, is having the right people in place. To illustrate his point, Taylor showed a video that told the inspiring story of Tidewater’s Damon B. Bankston supply boat, whose crew rescued 115 people from the waters of the Gulf of Mexico following the explosion and fire aboard the BP Horizon oil rig.

“That’s something about which I’m immensely proud,” Taylor said. “They didn’t do it for glory. They didn’t do it for any other reason than it was the right thing to do. That’s typical of so many people in our industry that do what they do because they feel like it’s the right thing to do.”


Business Forum looks at leveraging corporate resources

Tuesday, October 5th, 2010

Freeman School assistant dean Peter Ricchiuti has seen Black Monday, the dot-com boom and bust, the subprime mortgage crisis, and the worldwide financial meltdown, yet he’s never seen anything quite like what’s happening in today’s credit markets.

Peter Ricchiuti

Peter Ricchiuti, assistant dean at the Freeman School, will moderate a panel on alternative capital markets at this Friday's Tulane Business Forum.

“The country is awash with cash, but if you’re an individual or a small business, banks aren’t lending,” says Ricchiuti. “There’s plenty of money out there but not a lot of appetite for risk. Small businesses are really struggling and having to come up with innovative ways to come up with financing.”

This Friday, Ricchiuti will moderate a panel that explores some of the innovative ways small businesses are coming up with financing at the 31st annual Tulane Business Forum. The forum, an annual presentation of the Tulane Association of Business Alumni, takes place at the New Orleans Sheraton Hotel from 8 a.m. to 1:45 p.m.

Participating in the panel will be J. Marshall Page, an attorney at Jones Walker who specializes in private equity investments and leveraging state and federal tax incentives; Christopher Perry, who oversees the delivery of information, analytics and tools for capital markets trading organizations at Thomson Reuters; and Nicolas Perkin, founder of the New Orleans-based Receivables Exchange, which enables small and medium-sized businesses to sell their accounts receivables and access working capital in as little as three days.

The Receivables Exchange has established an online marketplace for businesses to auction off their receivables, making the financial transaction known as factoring—in which businesses sell their invoices at a discount to obtain working capital—much less costly and time consuming than conventional factoring deals.

“The Receivables Exchange is really one of the biggest stories in Louisiana,” Ricchiuti says. “The factoring market is something like 20 times the size of Wall Street in terms of numbers, and Nic wants to make the exchange here.”

In addition to the panel, other speakers taking on this year’s forum theme of “Leveraging Corporate Resources” will be Dean Taylor, chairman of Tidewater Inc., who will talk about ways in which Tidewater distinguishes itself in an increasingly commoditized business; Charles Kahn III, president and CEO of the Federation of American Hospitals, who will discuss the impact of health reform; David Brain, president and CEO of Entertainment Properties Trust, who will talk about off-balance sheet-financing; and Robbie Vitrano, chairman of Trumpet, and John Winsor, CEO of Victors & Spoils, who will talk about social media and strategies for the post-mass-media age.

For more information about this year’s program and to register online, visit TulaneBusinessForum.com.



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