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Steven Kaplan : Courses and Seminars

Corporate and Entrepreneurial Finance
LAWS 42603
This course uses the case method to study the practical aspects of important topics in corporate and entrepreneurial finance. We will apply the concepts and techniques of corporate finance to actual situations. The course is roughly divided into three sections: (1) financing decisions; (2) investment decisions; (3) entrepreneurial finance; and (4) private equity finance. In addition to analyzing the specific financing problems or issues, we will consider how those issues relate to the strategic objectives of the firm. It will be important to examine the "big picture" assumptions that are used in the numerical calculations. This course also places a strong emphasis on presentation and discussion skills. It will be important to explain your positions or arguments to each other and to try to argue for the implementation of your recommendations. COURSE PROCEDURES For each class meeting, I will assign study questions concerning one or two case studies. For most of the class period, we will consider the questions and the material in the cases. This includes the first meeting. You are allowed and encouraged, but not required to meet in groups outside of class to discuss and analyze the cases. Each group will submit a two-page memorandum of analysis and recommendations at the beginning of each case discussion. If you are working in a group, I will accept one memorandum from the group and count it for all students in the group. If you choose to do this, the group can include up to 3 students. Each memorandum should be typed and double-spaced. Write these as if you were writing a recommendation to the CEO or major decision maker in the case. The two page limit is for text only. You may attach as many numerical calculations as you wish. Memoranda will not be accepted after the class has met. A memorandum will be given credit if it is handed in and no credit if it is not. Initially, therefore, I will not grade them. However, I will use the memoranda to determine final grades for those students who are on the border of two grades. You should prepare a memorandum for UST, the first class. The readings and articles that I have assigned and will hand out are largely non-technical in nature and summarize the findings of academic research in corporate finance in the recent past. These articles are meant to be background material that will help you analyze the cases. They should not necessarily be cited in the case discussion. You should argue as if you were in a corporate boardroom rather than in a doctoral seminar. The process of arriving at the answer is as important as getting the answer. Because of the nature of this course (and its grading criteria), it is extremely important that you attend every class, arrive on time and be prepared to participate. To help me out, you should bring your name cards to each class. I may not remember who said what without those cards. In the past, students have asked me to hand out my case analysis after the class has discussed the case. I will not do this, because there are usually no absolute right answers. The best cases are deliberately written to be ambiguous. While there are no right answers, there are good arguments and bad arguments. This course is designed to help you learn to distinguish between sensible and senseless arguments. Handing out my analyses would reduce the ambiguity in the cases and partially defeat the purpose of doing cases. If you are uncomfortable with ambiguity, this class may not be for you. Grading will be based on class participation, the short memoranda and a final examination. Class participation will count for 40% of the final grade. I will judge your performance based both on the quality and the quantity of your comments. Because so much of the learning in this course occurs in the classroom, it is very important that you attend every class. The memoranda will count for 10% of the final grade. The final examination will count for 50% of the final grade
Spring 2014
Steven Kaplan