Monthly Archives: November 2006

Greek Bureaucracy

People often ask me – especially here at INSEAD – whether I have a Greek passport after they find out that I am half Greek. Some are surprised when I tell them that I don’t. Thanks to Stefanos, a classmate from the July 2007 promotion, I can now just point to his entry about his “Passport Odyssey” to explain my reasons.

No further comment required.

Joining Bain

Bain & CompanySo it is official now – I will join Bain & Company as a Consultant in their Munich office next year. It is a great relief to know that my job search is over.

Why did I chose to go into consulting? Mainly for two reasons – lifelong learning and continuous challenge. No other job I found offered a steeper learning curve and a more demanding environment. In that sense, Bain will be the continuation of my MBA program here at INSEAD.

In addition, the network I will join at Bain is phenomenal – its alumni base includes leaders as diverse as Kevin Rollins, CEO of Dell, and Meg Whitman, CEO of eBay, to Jonathan Reckford, CEO of Habitat for Humanity, and Mitt Romney, Governor of Massachusetts.

Trip to Bali

Last week we flew over to Bali for a long weekend – an incredibly beautiful island! We stayed at the Sienna Villas, a couple of truly spectacular houses in Seminyak. If you are looking for a quiet and relaxing hideout, this is where you want to go. A nice garden with swimming pools, spacious rooms, comfortable beds as well as drinks, food and massages on demand – what else could you ask for?

Deck chairs and pool Pool and barbecue pit
Small villa and pool Main villa

On Friday, we hired a driver to take us around the island – we had lunch with a spectacular view of the volcano, visited the monkey sanctuary in Ubud and enjoyed the sunset at Tanah Lot, one of the Balinese sea temples.

The volcano Matt, myself and Bruno at lunch
A monkey enjoying a banana Another monkey poses for the camera
In sarongs and scarves at the temple Tanah Lot

After a wild party on Friday night – both outside and inside our swimming pool – we spent Saturday on the beach and in our villas, and ended the day with sunset cocktails at Ku De Ta and a delicious buffet dinner back at our place.

Fun at the pool If everybody had an ocean, …

Thanks to Ellen and Turab for organizing this unforgettable escape.

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My own iPod Shuffle

I just got my very own iPod Shuffle yesterday. The thing is amazing – 14 grams, clips on to your clothing and holds a gigabyte of music – what else yould you ask for?

What’s even more amazing is that I am one of the first worldwide to hold this baby in my hands – Apple just started shipping it last Friday, and I got mine on Tuesday afternoon. Love it!

Ruriko, my Japanese classmate, told me that I was more Japanese than her, given my excitement about electronic gadgets. I take that as a compliment!

The barbarians are going for even bigger gates [Update]

As reported yesterday, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts (KKR), one of the biggest private equity groups in the world, offered 40bn EUR (51bn USD) to take over Vivendi, the French entertainment and telecommunications group. Although sources close to the talks said that the negotiations were “dead and not coming back”, this deal would represent the biggest buy-out transaction ever if completed.

Just a few months ago, we discussed the biggest buy-out to date in our finance classes here at INSEAD – the 31bn USD take over of RJR Nabisco, an American tobacco and food conglomerate, a deal portrayed in the highly acclaimed book Barbarians at the Gate and a TV movie by the same name. What’s remarkable about this deal is that it remained the biggest leveraged buy-out deal for almost 18 years, only to be surpassed in July of this year, when a deal was announced to take over HCA, the largest operator of hospitals in the US, in a 33bn USD transaction (including debt). In all of these deals, KKR was the lead investor.

Where will it all end? Although private equity firms are experiencing increasing competition and governments around the world seemed determined to increase the level of regulation significantly, some have suggested that only the sky is the limit. Dan Primack, editor of the daily newsletter PE Week Wire, believes that 80bn USD are a reasonable ceiling for future LBOs, while both the Financial Times and BusinessWeek suggest that even Microsoft, one of the biggest companies by market capitalization, could become a suitable LBO target.

Interesting times ahead.

Update: Although the HCA deal finally closed on November 17 for $33bn, it is no longer the biggest LBO ever: The Blackstone Group, another PE firm, just announced the take-over of Equity Office Properties Trust, a Chicago-based real-estate management group, in a deal valued at $36bn.

Skype Mood Messages

Best Skype mood message ever: “Skype mood messages – the blog for the short-attention-span generation”

Thanks to Mark for this insight – wish I made a screenshot :-)

For the uninitiated: Skype is an internet telephony and instant messaging application (for a more detailed description, see this article on Wikipedia). It allows you to add a short mood message to your profile, which gets displayed next to your name in the user list of your friends whenever you are online. Originally meant to contain a description of your current state of mind (e.g. “feeling lonely”, “hungover from last night”) it is being used among INSEAD students to communicate anything from current phone numbers, current location and weather to general comments about classes, faculty, last night’s party or life in general. Some people change their message multiple times per day. Quite entertaining actually.

Halloween Party

As expected, my last period here at INSEAD is much more relaxed than the previous ones – we go out a lot, have dinners together and just generally enjoy life.

Last Tuesday we had our big Halloween party at Lindsay’s place here at Heritage View. Great fun, even though I’m not sure I remember it all :-) Enjoy the pictures!

Marwan and Tamora looking alike The Grim Reaper and the Cleaning Boy
Witches of the World Unite! Custom Pumpkin Carving (notice the INSEAD one on the right)