Alternative Financing

IE Focus | By Ignacio de la Torre, Academic Director of Master in Finance, Master in Advanced Finance

The credit crunch could go on for years. That’s why alternative funding is on the rise, and it looks like it is here to stay.In 2009 more European companies financed their businesses using bonds rather than banks. This has never happened before, so what’s going on? The current situation means that banks are having to clean up their balance sheets, build up equity and write off toxic assets, which makes it difficult for them to offer companies competitive interest rates. Plus, Basel III will penalize bank loans to companies, which further exacerbates the current liquidity crunch. This scenario has forced companies to do their homework and to seek alternative sources of funding for expansion.

What is alternative financing? It’s the kind that does not depend on the banks. Traditionally, risk capital has played a major role in financing companies undergoing growth. It is normally broken down into two types: venture capital, which finances startups (often technology-related businesses) and private equity, which is generally used by more mature companies with a lower growth rate and a higher debt volume.

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The World Cup in South Africa: Dream or Nightmare?

IE Focus | By Gildo Seisdedos, Professor at IE Business School

South Africa’s much-desired World Cup could turn into a nightmare if global coverage exposes the country’s weakest points.This year the World Cup will be held in Africa. For the first time in history, the world’s most coveted sporting event after the Olympics has gone to the African continent. Beyond the strong symbolism of the pictures of Nelson Mandela holding the trophy and the impressive athletic progress made by African soccer, an unanswered question remains: was it a good idea to take soccer so far away from its origins?

Events as drivers for territorial transformation
We live in times when everyone wants a piece of the action where sporting events are concerned. Why? We might have to look for the root of this growing demand in what some have called the “Barcelona effect”. An industrial city in decline, positioned rather poorly within the regional hierarchy, manages to turn itself into a world-class city for tourism and services thanks to the impact on its brand made by an ambitious urban redevelopment project that used the Olympics as a driver and a global showcase. What mechanisms lay behind this magic transformation? Big events are without a doubt an excellent opportunity to tackle a region’s lack of certain facilities or infrastructure, both of which can benefit from the impact of the magic and far-reaching legacy of a major sporting event.

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Pritzker-Hyatt Scholarships for the IE Bachelor in Architecture

The Pritzker-Hyatt scholarships, for the education of professionals in the world of Architecture, are directed toward students of IE University’s Bachelor in Architecture + Business. The IE Foundation and Pritzker-Hyatt have signed an agreement, offering two scholarships to candidates that have successfully completed the admission process, therefore being admitted to the IE School of Architecture,…

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Are we really so ignorant?

IE Focus | By Jose Mari O’Kean, Professor at IE Business School

The economic crisis has taught us an important lesson, namely that increases in wealth have to be based on real business, not on rises in the price of financial assets.We now have different books and reports on the financial crisis and they all have one common denominator: our ignorance of what happened and the difficulty involved in predicting it.

But if we stop and think for a minute, we can perhaps see that we aren’t really so ignorant:

a)We know that the market is what works best, but it has its faults. Several of them led to this crisis, namely the lack of information and the low-level transparency of financial markets, the principal-agent problem in bank management, behaviour among brokers that gave rise to moral risk, and inappropriate choices made by savers regarding financial assets and by banks regarding mortgage borrowers.

b)For better or for worse, states have intervened to correct these faults in economies, but we have no regulators to correct the faults of the global economy.

c)We operate in a global environment and this has made it possible to channel savings from where they were made to where they were needed with relative ease. The appearance of an emerging country such as China, with a savings rate of more than 40% of its revenue and a current-account surplus of 6% of its GDP, has brought an influx of funds available for loans on global financial markets.

d)And the newest facet of this crisis is perhaps that a generalized mega-expansionary monetary policy has been put in place coupled with the controlled inflation of the prices of goods and services, but nobody thought to control the significant increases in price it brought to financial and real assets.

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The iPad or cult of the apple

IE Focus | By Enrique Dans, Professor at IE Business School

Apple did it again. It focused everyone’s attention on the iPad launch, and it will be a success because it takes the best that tablets had to offer and adds the Apple touch.The world of technology has experienced another of those characteristic “cult of the apple” events, also known as the “field of distortion of reality”. Once again we saw how that high priest called Steve Jobs, thin and fragile after his liver transplant, hypnotised the world of technology from a stage, completely redefining, almost reinventing, an entire market segment. For several hours, searches on Twitter for the word “iPad” returned more than five thousand new results per minute, while devotees and critics eagerly followed the news via the several thousands of bloggers and journalists who were at the Yerba Buena Centre of San Francisco. Once again the mystical information system designed by the company worked its magic: a combination of obsessive secrecy seasoned with a few information leaks that were not confirmed until the moment of truth and a staging capable of creating a truly surprising level of expectation. 

Before the iPad, the world of mobile devices began with mobile telephones, continued with the so-called netbooks and ended with laptops, the category in which Apple´s sales reached their high. However, Apple had often snubbed the intermediate category of netbooks, which it referred to as small, limited computers that led to poor user experiences. As a result, Apple had a clear gap in its product range, a gap it has filled with a move that is strategically perfect. It offers a product that is familiar: after redefining mobile telephones with the iPhone and becoming the reference design, it has designed something that is simply a very big iPhone, something everyone who has ever had an iPhone in their hands knows how to use or, in the light of the company´s concept of usability, even if they have never held one. It is everything from a book or a magazine to a simple computer when used with a keyboard base. 

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Toyota, the just-in-time spirit is alive and well

IE Focus | By Daisy Escobar, Professor at IE Business School

Toyota has been shaken to its very foundations by the mechanical faults detected in some of its models, but it has managed to react fast, with improvements that are reminiscent of its just-in-time breakthrough.A company with faulty products is nothing new. Situations in which the fault affects its products en masse are not quite so common, but the business annals now contain several notorious cases, some of which have been solved more successfully than others.

The problem is therefore not a new one. The difference lies in that it is happening to Toyota, the company renowned for manufacturing fault-free products, that demonstrated the cost of ´no quality´ and that continuously works to eliminate any kind of wastefulness. Indeed, the concept of faulty product is what the company focuses on most in order to eliminate it from its plants. Toyota invented the famous poka-yokes, the alarms and controls that warn of errors so that they can be corrected before they become faults, in other words, before they are found by customers.

The mechanical problem affecting the accelerator pedals on some of its models and the brake pedals on others has struck the very heart of Toyota´s ideology: its commitment to quality. The company has not had long to wait to feel the effects of the problem: more than ten million cars recalled for a service; around two million dollars in costs (estimated figure); and a somewhat tarnished image as far as its customers are concerned

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The IE “Marketing Gurus”

Original published at Bangkok Post on May 4, 2010 Earlier this year, Patr Bhalakula, a talented young Thai pursuing a Master in Marketing Management degree at IE  Business School, and his team won the second prize in the Novartis Masterminds Challenge in Spain.  The challenge is a competition involving the London Business School, IESE (Instituto…

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Mobiles and children

IE Focus | By Enrique Dans, Professor at IE Business School

If you still think the main purpose of your mobile phone is voice transmission, and you can’t understand why younger users seem permanently obsessed with their mobile screens, then you are missing out on something.For those of us who are at a certain age, it is a challenge for the memory to put some perspective on the technological advances we see as completely normal and as an intrinsic part of our everyday life today. One of the best examples is the mobile telephone, a device that has found its way into thousands of millions of pockets of people all over the world who never leave home without it. 

One recent study in the United States shows that the average age at which children get their first mobile telephone has now fallen to 12 years. Depending on the purchasing power of these children´s families, the penetration levels in the upper-middle-class segment are higher than 87%. If we look back in time, many of us would find it hard to remember that when we were 12 years old, not only did we not have a mobile telephone, but there was also no possibility of us having one. Not only that, the vision of anyone speaking apparently on their own in a car or while walking down the street would have made us immediately think that they had some kind of mental problem. The telephone was a device connected to the wall by a cable, with two different parts joined together by a coiled cable. It had a dial (show one to today´s children… they take knowing what to do with “that” as some kind of challenge) the use of which was also strictly limited as far as we were concerned. 

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