M&A electives on the rise among Bayes students as global events spark interest in deals
The study of mergers and acquisitions (M&A) at Bayes Business School (formerly Cass) has sharply increased in the last two years as the global political landscape continues to impact the dynamics of dealmaking.
Undergraduate numbers taking the M&A elective, typically ranging between 30 and 50 per year, rose to 59 in 2021 before climbing to 196 in 2022. Meanwhile, uptake across MSc programmes continues to grow proportionally.
The M&A elective for the Bayes MBA – taught five times each year in different forms for full-time, part-time, executive, online and Dubai campus MBA students – has also proved to be hugely popular in the School, with 710 students taking it since 2015. This is almost double that of any other elective.
Dr Naaguesh Appadu, Research Fellow at Bayes and tutor for the Mergers and Acquisitions electives for MSc and undergraduate programmes, said the subject held a broad appeal for students because of the variety it offers.
“It is one of those rare courses that is principally taught through case studies,” Dr Appadu said.
“Students at all levels can enjoy learning through examining live examples, together with lectures from experienced Visiting Lecturers and world-renowned practitioners.
“Furthermore, much of the content covered is directly relevant for a career in investment banking and private equity. Bayes is home to the Mergers and Acquisitions Research Centre (MARC), which hosts the annual MARC Conference – the largest academic M&A conference globally – plus many student-facing and public forums that apply theoretical research and professional insights.”
Third-year BSc Business Management student Manuela Villanova said the timely nature of subject material led her to choose the elective in M&A.
“I find the topic of M&A very appealing and current,” she said.
“You hear about deals all the time in the headlines, and it is fascinating learning about different types of dealmaking strategies and common mistakes that are made along the way.
“Having previously studied a corporate finance module, I decided to write my dissertation about digitalisation in M&A and wanted to take this elective to broaden my knowledge further.
“I was apprehensive at first, because my background is in management rather than finance, but I’ve really enjoyed the opportunity to broaden my knowledge in this area.
“Having expertise in M&A will hopefully open many doors for me in my career.”
Subhanu Chakrabarti studied for his MBA at Bayes in 2021 and 2022 and is now a transaction strategist. He believes widespread interest in M&A is driven by an inherent dynamism.
“M&A lives at the confluence of finance, strategy, and culture,” he said.
“The subject views businesses in a complex system that allows students to explore the science of strategic planning and the art of decision-making under uncertainty. I believe this makes it both a challenging and exciting course for students.
“Cyclical swings in M&A markets are highly intriguing, and offer tremendous opportunities to study the impact of business and economic cycles on transactions.”
Professor Scott Moeller, Director of MARC, who teaches Bayes’ MBA M&A elective, said the dynamics of dealmaking carried a broader interest given recent global events.
“In a relatively short space of time, we have seen several global shocks which have directly impacted overseas investment value and volume patterns,” Professor Moeller said.
“Conflict in Ukraine, for example, led to sanctions such as the divestment of Russian overseas assets which in turn shifted investment demand. Similarly, the Covid-19 pandemic affected the timing and focus of global and regional deals as buyers sought to mitigate risk in turbulent times.
“In addition, the rise of Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) factors in 21st century business and finance directly drives many investment decisions, and therefore forms a significant component of our teaching at Bayes, including the M&A elective modules at all levels in the university.
"A proven understanding of these ESG considerations sets students up for a number of career paths.
“As our Bayes MBA is also taught at City’s Dubai campus, we incorporate case studies that focus on regional deal activity – including two recent cases of a landmark oil company in the Middle East written here at the school with the help of an alumnus. This localisation of teaching is also crucial towards understanding the different cultural factors impacting the dealmaking process.”