vendredi, juin 06, 2008

“Global Warning, Global Warming.”

MBA Club event, April 17th 2008

Some like it hot. This is indeed the case for our beloved MBA Club, which is always looking to debate hot business issues. And that is exactly what we did on April 17th, with a well attended conference titled “Global Warning, Global Warming.” An assistance of one hundred people and a panel of eight industry experts including Professor Patrick Gougeon and two ESCP-EAP MBA alumni had an active debate on this most important subject.

« Ecolo-attitude » or « cash-attitude »

After a brief viewing from former US Vice President Al Gore’s film “An Inconvenient Truth”, our experts tried to answer an important question for corporate executives: are we merely witnessing a citizen’s politically correct green attitude regarding climate change, or are we facing a huge business opportunity?

The panel was quick to reach an agreement on both. Ludovic Bu (MBA2007, founder of Mobility +) gave examples of how energy efficient it could be to change business models and act on human and corporate behaviour. As Lena Spinazzé (Be Citizen) put it, “the urgency of the situation creates a business opportunity, a cash attitude. (…) There are three pre-requisites to a “positive economy”: create a vision of where we want to go, don’t systematically look for high-tech solutions, and try to apply a systemic medium term financial approach to encourage companies.” Alternative energy consultant and former Energy Efficiency and Climate Change Director at the EBRD Jacquelin Ligot described the type of investments needed to reduce greenhouse gases, and the role of government incentives. He also pointed out more advanced countries’ responsibility towards emerging economies.

Opportunities at stake

Arnaud Berger (Banque Fédérale des Banques Populaires) considered the competitive advantage for retail banks with their local networks to position themselves as lenders to smaller innovative CleanTech companies. On the issue “Is a both profitable and smart investment realistic?” he commented: “a smart investment considers profitability, the problem is the definition of profitability itself…Sometimes projects are modified to fulfill profitability criteria, which are not the same in China or France”. Denis Givois, President of the European Federation of Intelligent Energy Efficiency Services, reminded the audience of what the main issue may be: “70% of buildings we will use in 2050 are already built, and most are not energy efficient; innovation will be needed to improve existing buildings environmental standards, a huge challenge is facing us”.

Investors: what are the Funds doing

As they agreed on the idea that global warming represented both a threat for mankind and a corporate opportunity, the panel experts then discussed potential business solutions, and of course, how to finance them. “Clean Energy is already a large and growing business”, and Laurent Sachs (MBA2004, a US stock market specialist) estimated the global 2007 CleanTech revenues at around $80 billion (a 40% increase from 2006), including $30 billions for wind power, $25 billion for biofuels, and $20 billion for solar power. Total investments in CleanTech probably reached $150 billion in 2007, including $25 billion coming from public markets. Valérie Guelfi, managing funds of Alternative Energy equities, has a global investment horizon of about 400 international companies, and mostly focuses on profitable companies. “70% of these 400 companies are already earning money”, she said in answer to Pr Patrick Gougeon’s fear that CleanTech investing may be a new asset bubble, comparable to the Internet in the late 1990s. Pr Gougeon also described the present state of energy macro trends.

A long and lively Q&A session followed this extensive discussion. Then an even longer gathering around a well stocked open bar was an outstanding networking opportunity to exchange ideas, business cards… and drinks.

Laurent Sachs (MBA2004) - Hélène Andonian (MBA2007)