A&M, which helped with the NMC Healthcare turnaround, expects the regional headcount to cross 200 by next year. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: The UK’s Alvarez & Marsal, specialising in corporate turnaround advisory, is making a move towards regional expansion, with new offices opening simultaneously in Abu Dhabi and Riyadh. The regional network will support a headcount that should cross 200 by next year.

“We have had a good - but limited - presence until probably a year ago in terms of the service offerings that we provide in the region,” said Paul Gilbert, Co-head of the Middle East operations and Head of Turnaround and restructuring at A&M, which shot into extreme prominence after overseeing the administration of Abu Dhabi’s NMC Healthcare from April 2020 until recently.

“Dubai is the regional hub, and our local headcount has more than doubled in the last year to 116. The investment in both our new Riyadh and Abu Dhabi offices is very important - the reason being that we see the opportunities in the market and our clients are requesting the kinds of services and the different approach that we bring. Our mantra is ‘Leadership, Action and Results’, and it's a very focused approach that sometimes can be uncomfortable. But clients really enjoy the benefit of that approach and it's a differentiator.”

James Dervin has transferred from A&M’s London office to Riyadh and will be co-leading the region with Paul Gilbert in Dubai. Faisal Shaikh (Dubai) and Hazim Almegren (Riyadh) have joined as Managing Directors within the Corporate Finance and Financial Services groups respectively.

Apart from debt and corporate restructuring, A&M wants to do its bit to help Middle East clientele go through digital transformation. “Digital transformation services is definitely within our remit and an area of real focus for us right now,” said Gilbert. “We are investing heavily in our capability to assist companies move into the new digital world. We certainly expect digital transformation to be one of the significant areas of growth for our business in the next three to five years.”

Saudi laws too will help

Recently, Saudi Arabia brought out legislation that puts a halt to legacy audit firms providing clients with non-audit services – i.e., the type of services that an A&M would bring to the table. This will force companies to bring in separate consultancies in advisory roles.

“The Big Four (global audit firms) are not our sole competitor group,” said Gilbert. “But they are clearly facing audit conflicts, which are becoming more of a problem for them with increased regulation in a number of markets. That gives us an opportunity to fill the space that in some cases they would have occupied.”