BYU Marriott Team Takes First at ACG Cup

PROVO, Utah – Apr 17, 2020 – A BYU Marriott team of two MAcc students and two MBA students took first place at this year’s statewide Association for Corporate Growth (ACG) Cup held this winter semester, receiving $3,000 as they competed against teams from universities across the state of Utah.

The ACG Cup is a case competition with the purpose of giving students real-world insight into the inner workings of mergers and acquisitions, investment banking, financial advisory, and private equity. The competition has two rounds: the first round is at the school level, and the second round is at the state level. Colleges and universities across the state of Utah are encouraged to compete.

The four-member BYU Marriott team that took first-place honors at both the school and statewide competition consisted of first-year MBA student Spencer Stevens from Holladay, Utah; second-year MBA student Xueying "Sophia" Zhang from Beijing; MAcc student Seth Lawrence from Andover, Minnesota; and MAcc student Peter Call from Colorado Springs, Colorado.

With the competition allowing only one team from each university, and after a high number of students expressed interest in competing, BYU Marriott held its own preliminary competition to select who would represent the school at the statewide competition in Salt Lake City. Six BYU Marriott teams competed for the chance to represent the school as well as receive a $1,000 cash prize. Teams had a week to prepare and then presented their solutions at a competition dinner held by BYU Marriott. 

“The case was based on a fictitious restaurant chain that was faced with a hostile takeover attempt by a private equity firm,” says Call. “Our challenge was to value the restaurant chain to see if the offering price from the PE firm was reasonable or not.”

Each team presented its solution to a panel of two ACG judges in a twenty-minute presentation. At the end of the night, the judges chose a winning team that would go on to represent BYU at the state competition.

Teams from BYU, the University of Utah, and Utah Valley University then competed for the cash prize and an invitation to the ACG Utah Intermountain Growth Conference. The case presented during this second round of the competition was an add-on to the original case. Students were told that the restaurant chain had identified a smaller restaurant to potentially acquire. They were tasked with valuing the target company, including the synergies they believed would occur as a result of the acquisition.

The set-up of the state competition was similar to the competition held by BYU Marriott, with the only difference being a larger panel of judges. “We had a professional presentation,” says Zhang. “We put a lot of hours into our evaluation to make sure it was right. When the judges asked questions, our team answered them well, and we had well-thought-out and confident answers.”

According to Call, the biggest challenge the BYU Marriott group faced was making sure its analysis was watertight. “Having four group members who had diverse views as to the best solution was extremely helpful. This allowed us to think and rethink our answers to make sure they were the best solutions to the problems we were presented with.”

Zhang adds that not knowing her other teammates well prior to the competition brought difficulties as well. “We didn’t know each other's backgrounds prior to the competition, so it was hard to not immediately understand each other's strengths and weaknesses to perform well as a team,” says Zhang. “We worked hard to be genuine and transparent with each other, so in the end we were able to accomplish our goal.”

After winning the top spot, team members credit their education from BYU Marriott in helping them prepare for the competition and ultimately take home the win. “We had a significant leg up over the other schools we competed against in terms of the technical finance knowledge we had learned through our classes at BYU Marriott,” says Call. Though they came from different programs, team members were able to utilize the skills they had to find success in the competition.

The BYU Marriott School of Business prepares men and women of faith, character, and professional ability for positions of leadership throughout the world. Named for benefactors J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott, the school is located at Brigham Young University, the largest privately owned, church-sponsored university in the United States. BYU Marriott has four graduate and ten undergraduate programs with an enrollment of approximately 3,300 students.

BYU Marriott first-place team members.
Left to right: BYU Marriott first-place team members Spencer Stevens, Xueying "Sophia" Zhang, Seth Lawrence, and Peter Call.

Media Contact: Chad Little (801) 422-1512
Writer: Natalie Heidemann