By 2007, Larry Franklin had lived and worked in China and Asia for 27 years, moving forward many large multimillion-dollar investment deals in Asia for corporate and banking interests.
It only seems fitting then that the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) turned to Franklin to develop the Kellogg-HKUST EMBA Program’s elective course Deal Making in China and Asia.
Part of Kellogg’s global electives model, the elective course attracts EMBA students from throughout Kellogg’s worldwide network. They come with a keen interest in unraveling the advantages and challenges of conducting business in Asia.
“Our global students have said they are fascinated to learn a Westerner’s perceptions of doing business on the ground in Asia,” says Franklin, adjunct professor of management, finance, and business law at HKUST. “Our students from Asia get a new perspective on deals in their home countries. We often compare perceptions and misperceptions.”
The highly interactive course covers broad geographic ground, which has included Mainland China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, Australia, Thailand, Myammar, and India, as well as pan-Asia.
Students spend 15 classroom hours over six days exploring diverse deal structures, such as technology transfer, joint venture, compensation trade, international project finance, international bond issuance, equity investment, equity divestment, international bidding, and government privatization, among others.
“I take what I have learned throughout the years from actual deal making and apply those lessons to today’s environment,” says Franklin, who has completed over $9 billion (U.S.) in equity and debt financings. “The EMBA student, or group, is asked to role play one of the parties, and has a series of decisions to make to try to successfully complete the deal.”
Franklin enjoys seeing the creativity of EMBA students up close. “Given the same set of facts, students often come up with many proposed solutions to successfully completing a deal.”
At the end of the case discussion, Franklin presents the actual outcome with key takeaways. Depending on their own experiences, students walk away with a variety of lessons.
“Many learn to appreciate that there is not just one way of doing business in Asia,” says Franklin. “One approach to deal making may work in one country, and not another. Some express surprise at the importance in Asia of relationships versus expertise. Others learn that deal making is quite challenging even for experienced local players. We focus on what it takes to succeed. My mantra for success in deal making in Asia is, ‘Polite persistence wins the day.’ ”