Leading restructuring consulting firms ramping up in Gulf

17 February 2021 Consultancy-me.com 3 min. read

Specialist restructuring consulting firms are currently beefing up their numbers in the Middle East – in anticipation of widespread business struggles brought about by the coronavirus.

The world’s leading restructuring consultancies are ramping up their operations in the Middle East as the coronavirus pandemic continues to take its toll on local business. Together with the restructuring arms of the Big Four, leading segment players such as Alvarez & Marsal, AlixPartners, FTI Consulting and Duff & Phelps have been busy boosting their numbers over recent months in anticipation of the economic havoc in Covid-19’s aftermath.

The oil-producing nations of the Gulf have been among those hardest hit by the global pandemic, dealing with the double blow of both depressed economic activity and plummeting oil prices due to limited demand. Many already debt-laden local businesses will also soon have to contend with reduced support, as governments across the region look to pull back on emergency relief measures instituted in the initial wake of the crisis. And the fall-out has already begun.

Leading restructuring consulting firms  ramping up in Gulf

Brought in to head up AlixPartners’ local Turnaround & Restructuring team mid-last year, Managing Director Matthew Wilde at the time warned that the Middle East should brace itself for a restructuring wave – with some of the activity expected “in the form of consolidation, (and) some in the form of closures or even failures.” Shortly after, AlixPartners was appointed to help liquidate the assets of Arabtec, after the one-time construction giant suffered a 60 percent drop in its share price.

Early cases such as Arabtec and the expectation of many further collapses have seen Alixpartners and its consulting rivals boosting their headcounts and expertise in a further grab for the burgeoning market. Earlier this month, Alvarez & Marsal – which was recently appointed as administrator for private health firm NMC and has worked on numerous high profile cases such as the Abraaj scandal – announced the appointment of four new senior recruits in the UAE.

According to Alvarez & Marsal regional Managing Director Saeeda Jaffar, the additions are part of an ongoing expansion drive which the firm hopes will see its numbers swell to 150 experts over the next three to five years – up from just the four professionals when she first joined ed in 2016. With a current headcount of around 50 spread across its offices in Dubai and Riyadh, the company aims to become the “go-to” restructuring firm in the Middle East.

Another big name in the turnaround and restructuring segment, FTI Consulting, late last year recruited KPMG veteran Vikas Papriwal to head up its Corporate Finance & Restructuring division in the Middle East, while Duff & Phelps earlier welcomed former Deloitte partner Richard Clarke as its restructuring practice lead for the Middle East and Africa. According to Bloomberg, the firm plans to add another eight specialists before the middle of the year.

Speaking to the publication, Clarke said; “Every business in the region needs to look at both their operating model and financing model as the world has changed for us all in the past twelve months. So the opportunity for restructuring and transformation professionals is extremely strong.”