Our breadth of experience has enabled us to develop a strong network of contacts and associates throughout the region, spanning oil and gas, finance, construction, government and more. When taken together with our in-house expertise, we are well-placed to help our clients grasp the opportunities available in the Middle East and North Africa.
For many businesses, the Middle East and North Africa offers opportunities and challenges in equal measure. Since 2011, the region has struggled with political and economic stagnation, driven in part by drawn-out conflicts in Iraq, Yemen, Syria and Libya. As well as the inherent security challenges, the intertwining of political and business elites in certain countries also presents the risk of bribery, cronyism and influence peddling.
Nonetheless, there are plenty of opportunities for well-informed and well-prepared companies entering the Middle East and North Africa. The region has a young population, and ambitious economic reform programmes in countries such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Morocco are opening up new sectors to foreign investment. The lifting of international sanctions on Iran, whilst not providing the instant rise in foreign investment some expected, still represents an attractive opportunity, provided thorough due diligence is undertaken. Similarly, through robust risk analysis and careful planning, foreign firms can mitigate security threats in challenging operating environments such as Algeria, Libya, northern Iraq and Yemen.
Integrity Due Diligence – Iran
A major consumer electronics firm was considering the acquisition of an Iranian telecommunications firm, and wanted to ensure that there was no sanctions risk presented by the target company’s shareholders. We undertook pre-transactional due diligence, including searches of online and physical corporate registries in Iran and mapping out the formal ownership structure of the Iranian company. This process identified several entities and individuals of concern. We undertook targeted, discreet enquiries with our network of contacts in Iran and found multiple current and historic links to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps and the office of Iran’s Supreme Leader, both of which are subject to international sanctions.
Enhanced Due Diligence – Saudi Arabia
A private wealth client asked for enhanced due diligence to be conducted on a member of a Gulf ruling family to identify any source of wealth concerns. Our enquiries comprised English and Arabic-language public record searches, as well as enquiries with contacts in the Gulf, including a senior member of a royal household. Although the subject maintained a limited public profile focused on their philanthropic activities, our enquiries with human sources identified several business interests held by the subject through members of their entourage. This company had strategic investments in several high risk jurisdictions and sectors, including extractives in sub-Saharan Africa and arms manufacturers in Europe and Central Asia.
Security consultancy – region-wide
An international oil company asked S-RM to provide risk assessments and security planning for their Middle East operations. We provided two embedded consultants, who initially conducted a risk assessment of all onshore and offshore assets including office sites, drilling platforms, offshore storage vessels, accommodation blocks and storage/piping infrastructure. We then developed a full suite of security plans, including updated emergency evacuation procedures. We also provided assistance to the client’s emergency response team.
CRISIS MANAGEMENT – Libya
Since the end of Libya’s 2011 civil war, S-RM has assisted an international oil major with its re-entry into the country. We initially supplied the client with strategic intelligence products, then provided on-the-ground security consultancy and journey management once they had moved staff and assets into Libya. After the establishment of our Tripoli office early in 2012, we integrated direct operational support with forward-deployed intelligence and analytical capability. This allowed us to provide a constant flow of tactical and operational intelligence, combined with high-level political and strategic assessments, to inform our client’s long-term decision-making and provide them with a clear competitive advantage in Libya.