The views expressed herein are those of the author and not necessarily the views of FTI Consulting, Inc, its management, its subsidiaries, its affiliates, or its other professionals.
Mark Bezant is a senior managing director at FTI Consulting. He leads FTI’s economic and financial consulting practice in EMEA and Asia-Pacific, which includes its international arbitration practice. Over the past 30 years, he has been appointed as an expert witness or independent expert on around 300 occasions, to assess damages, valuation or accounting issues. Mark has testified more than 50 times before courts, tribunals and regulators worldwide.
What attracted you about a career as an economic and financial consultant?
I enjoy having a portfolio of projects that involves different questions to address, different industries and countries, and where there is often an interesting story underlying the project or the dispute. I like the opportunity to conduct detailed analysis but also the need to communicate clearly, and be prepared to explain and defend one’s views.
Which case has been your most memorable and why?
This was a shareholder dispute relating to minority interests in a complex offshore corporate structure where the underlying assets were mining operations in a developing economy. The difficulty was that expert evidence would end up as a “battle of the spreadsheets” based on complicated models and valuation judgements, and it would be hard for the tribunal to know how to determine a damages figure from within a very wide range of values. Through careful analysis of historic investments, market transactions in the same or similar mining interests, the financial statements of the parties concerned and investment analyst commentary, we identified over 10 “indicators of value”, which suggested at which end of the range the value was likely to lie. This proved persuasive.
How has the market changed since you first started practising?
The extent and nature of information available has grown markedly over the past 20 to 30 years – as regards macro-economic statistics, market and company information, and detailed operational and financial data. The use of experts has become more accepted over time, to marshal, validate and interpret this information. Tribunals have therefore become more comfortable in engaging with the economic and financial issues and so now expect more principled and thorough analysis from experts in support of their views.
Separately, the move to widespread digitisation of business activity means these trends in information will accelerate further. The challenge for parties and tribunals comes at two points – managing disclosure in a proportionate manner, and understanding the economic and financial analysis as it becomes ever richer. For experts, this means greater involvement earlier in the dispute process, to advise on information needs. It also requires more expert interaction throughout the arbitration, such as via expert joint meetings, statements of agreements and disagreement, and expert conferencing at the hearing, to help focus the issues for the parties and the tribunal to resolve.
How has your corporate governance experience enhanced your consultancy practice?
Corporate governance requires standards of conduct to ensure ethical and professional behaviours, and quality standards, and to manage risk for clients and the firm. The obligations of an expert witness, for example, as regards rigour and independence, are personal but we have both a culture and processes that align the interests of the individual and the firm.
What is the most satisfying part of your current role?
Helping expand our international arbitration practice globally and watching our emerging experts build their personal brands alongside the FTI Consulting brand.
What are the main challenges FTI Consulting faces in the current market? As the leader of the economic and financial consulting practice, how will you address them?
In an international arbitration, the parties and their legal advisers can come from anywhere in the world; their dispute may relate to business activities in countries unconnected to the parties’ country of origin; and it may be determined in yet another location. The subject of the dispute can relate to different industries or very different aspects of the same industry – such as the expropriation of a mobile telecoms network in a developing economy through to a global licensing dispute for the use of Standard Essential Patent rights for mobile devices. This variety has always been the case, but the greater scale and diversity of cross-border economic activity has increased the overall complexity of disputes.
As a result, FTI Consulting needs to coordinate its global resources to offer – where needed – tailored combinations of specialist expertise and supporting teams, and where it may be beneficial for team members to be located near the client. For this to work, we have to provide clients and their advisers with the same quality of experience whichever of our experts, teams or offices they use. Our global network has been cultivated over the past decade very much with this in mind, and I believe we are well placed as a result.
What skills are key to success as an economic and financial consultant?
The ability to frame a problem; conduct the right investigation or analysis, given the nature of the problem; and communicate one’s thinking and conclusions clearly. This translates into the ability to help the tribunal see the wood for the trees.
How do you see your practice developing over the next five years?
We’ll continue to invest in the same three things. First, geographic expansion, principally building out our existing practices in Asia and India as the use of arbitration continues to grow rapidly in these regions. Second, developing further specialist expertise, both industry-oriented and functional capability as the market demands more sophisticated combinations of expertise. Third, recruiting and training high-calibre staff, as clients are best served by having both an experienced testifying expert and a strong supporting team.
Mark Bezant is "an excellent expert witness" who is "persuasive without appearing to take the role of an advocate for a party", say sources. They add, “He brings intelligence and impressive analytical skills to his work”.
Mark Bezant is a senior managing director at FTI Consulting based in London. He leads FTI's economic and financial consulting practice in EMEA and Asia Pacific. He has over 30 years' experience of advising on all aspects of valuing businesses, companies, listed and unlisted securities, intellectual property and intangible assets. He has assisted clients in many contexts: mergers and acquisitions, corporate restructuring, regulatory compliance and corporate governance (including fairness opinions), financial reporting, tax planning, expert determination and dispute resolution.
From 2010 to 2016, he was a board director for Stelara NV, a Belgian holding company for the Truvo group of companies, which operated leading directories, search and advertising businesses, and had annual revenues of approximately €90 million. Mark also has a master's degree in chemistry from Oxford University.
Prior to joining FTI, he was the European managing director of the finance and accounting services division at LECG. Mark was also formerly a partner in the valuation team of Deloitte's corporate finance practice and previous to that the partner-in-charge of the UK economic and financial consulting practice of Arthur Andersen, which comprised its valuation, litigation support, economic consulting and business modelling groups.
Mark was the founding and chairman of the valuation special interest group of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales, a position he held from 2007 to 2016. He has carried out well over 450 substantive valuations in his career, on both contentious and non-contentious matters, and has been appointed as an expert witness or independent expert on over 250 occasions, to assess damages, valuation or accounting issues.
His experience covers matters before the UK High Court, the Patents Court, Chancery Division, the Queen’s Bench Division, the Restrictive Practices Court, the Competition Appeal Tribunal, the Family Division, the Copyright Tribunal, the Special Commissioners for Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs, the UK Lands Tribunal, the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal, and the Court of Appeal. Mark has also acted in matters before the Royal Court of Jersey, the Royal Court of Guernsey, the Grand Court of the Cayman Islands, the Supreme Court of Bermuda, the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court, the Supreme Court of the State of New York, various courts in Germany, the Amsterdam Court of Appeal (Enterprise Division), the High Court of Hong Kong, and the European Court and Commission.
He has appeared before arbitral tribunals in the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague, LCIA, ICC, DIFC, HKIAC, SCC, SIAC, SCAI, UNCITRAL, ICSID and other arbitration forums, and mediations including under the World Intellectual Property Organization's jurisdiction. Mark is one of the leading valuation and damages experts active in commercial arbitration worldwide identified by Who's Who Legal: Arbitration (2011 to 2018 inclusive).
He has given oral evidence on over 50 occasions.