Undergrads Who Advise Delaying Solar IPO Win Investment Banking Competition

A team of three Haas undergraduates and one economics student who advised SolarCity to delay its IPO took first place in the 16th Annual Investment Banking Case Competition before a standing-room crowd in the Wells Fargo Room Oct. 3.

The competition, hosted by Goldman Sachs and the Haas Undergraduate Program, challenged 30 teams to analyze the finances of San Mateo, Calif.-based rooftop-solar company SolarCity as of November 2012 and make a recommendation on its planned IPO.

The winners—Haas students Devon McLachlan, Joseph Kim, and Taryn Qi, all BS 15, and economics student Jennifer Park, BA 15—were the only team among the three finalists to suggest that SolarCity delay its IPO until the first quarter of 2013.

“When we analyzed the markets back in November 2012, we saw that the trend for solar-industry IPOs looked pretty poor,” explains Kim. The team concluded that investors wouldn’t view SolarCity’s offering favorably, and that the presidential election and coming end of the year would result in added uncertainty. “We suggested that SolarCity wait until 2013 to allow the market to stabilize,” Kim says.

Because the team presented last and offered a unique perspective, the judges—four Goldman Sachs representatives, including alumnus Mark Fiorentino, BS 12; one SolarCity representative; and Haas Lecturer Stephen Etter, BS 83, MBA 89—peppered McLachlan, Kim, Qi, and Park with questions about their recommendation. “That played to our advantage, because we were able to step up to the plate and tackle those questions,” Kim says.

All three winners are now eligible for the Haas External Case Competition in the spring.