Leading global law firm Baker McKenzie recently hosted a seminar in Dubai in January 2019 focusing on how companies in the Middle East can manage the key issues faced when integrating and transforming a business, with practical guidance on the key employment, tax, and compliance and corporate governance issues.

The seminar was led by senior lawyers of Baker McKenzie’s Global Reorganisations Practice Group from Europe, the Americas, Asia Pacific, the Middle East and Africa. Over 60 participants, including senior executives from leading multinational and regional companies, across all industry sectors, joined in discussions around:

  • the key regional and global trends and success factors in business transformations including people management, clarity of objectives, project delivery, technology and risk management;
  • the key employment issues arising in reorganisations including due diligence issues, employment transfers, communication and consultation, contractual terms, payments and accrued benefits, and immigration and nationalization matters;
  • the changing tax landscape in the Middle East and globally, and the challenges and risks it poses to reorganisation of corporate and operating models; and
  • the growing trend of compliance and good corporate governance, its impact pre- and post-acquisition integration, and local market issues such as foreign ownership restrictions, and competition and insolvency laws.

“Faced with a new era of globalisation and a changing economic landscape, businesses in the Middle East are re-evaluating their operating models to remain competitive and enhance performance,” said Will Seivewright, Corporate/M&A partner at Baker McKenzie Habib Al Mulla, based in Dubai. “Successfully transforming a business – whether through post-acquisition integrations, disposals and carve-outs, supply chain restructurings or other structural reorganisations – requires careful planning and implementation to achieve intended objectives.”

Kirsty Wilson, Head of Baker McKenzie’s Global Reorganisations Practice Group, based in London, commented: “A business transformation is a time of disruption, vulnerability and risk for the company involved, and it is therefore critical to identify and proactively manage the issues around retaining talent, resources and value. Underestimating these risks can result in significant financial and reputational damage."

Baker McKenzie lawyers leading the discussions were:

  • Business transformation - Kirsty Wilson (Corporate partner, UK), Will Seivewright (Corporate partner, UAE) and Antonio Russo (Tax partner, The Netherlands);
  • Employment - Joanna Matthews-Taylor (Head of Employment, UAE), Aran Alexander (Employment partner, Singapore) and Christiana O'Connell-Schizas (Employment associate, Saudi Arabia));
  • Tax - Reggie Mezu (Senior Tax Counsel, UAE), Rafic Barrage (Tax partner, US) and Jukka Karjalainen (Tax partner, UK); and
  • Compliance and corporate governance - Ghada El Ehwany (Corporate counsel, UAE), Andrew Martin (Corporate partner, Singapore) and Anna Orlander (Corporate partner, Sweden).

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