Mustafa Hadi leads BRG’s disputes and international arbitration practice in the Asia-Pacific and is co-leader of BRG’s APAC region. He specialises in addressing issues of valuation, damages, and accounting in complex commercial and investment treaty disputes, including M&A, private equity, joint venture, shareholder, breach of contract, financial services and intellectual property disputes. Mr Hadi has been instructed as an expert in international arbitration and in court, and is experienced in oral testimony.
Describe your career to date.
I studied physics at university and joined Deloitte in London to train as a chartered accountant. While I worked initially as an auditor, I was always more interested in understanding how businesses worked, and what made them successful, than purely in tracking their financial performance – and so after qualifying as an accountant I transferred to Deloitte’s management consulting division, with a focus on business strategy. For the next few years, I advised corporate clients on entering new markets, launching new products or repositioning their businesses, and assisted private equity funds with their commercial analysis of the markets and businesses in which they were investing.
In 2008, I had the opportunity to join a leading expert services firm in London, to focus on valuation and damages analysis. This field was unfamiliar to me at the time, but I was intrigued by the opportunity to apply both my commercial grounding and my technical finance skills in a setting that required a highly analytical approach and intellectual rigour.
In 2012, I moved to Hong Kong, sensing the growth opportunities that lay ahead in Asia, and relishing the prospect of living in perhaps the most vibrant and dynamic region in the world. In 2015, I was approached by former colleagues at BRG to launch the firm in the Asia-Pacific. I opened the BRG office in Hong Kong and launched its Asia international arbitration practice. Since 2015, my team has grown substantially and we have opened BRG offices in Singapore, Beijing, Tokyo and Mumbai.
My practice today focuses on expert work on valuation, damages and accounting issues, with a particular focus on private equity-related and M&A disputes. To support me in these matters, I have built a team that combines skills in economics, finance, statistics and accounting, underpinned by a strong commercial orientation.
How has the role of an expert changed since you started your career?
Litigation and arbitration continue to increase in complexity, with disputes involving more parties, more jurisdictions, and more documents. One consequence of this (and of technological advancement) is increasing interest in the use of technology to find ways of improving the processes by which disputes are resolved. I am seeing an increase in the use of e-discovery platforms, and data analytics tools – but overall I feel that while the talk is of AI and predictive justice, the reality is that technology has so far made very limited inroads into the arbitration hearing room.
I am excited by the potential of technology to enable us to do things differently to how they have been done in the past – as opposed to just transferring existing processes from paper to screen.
What do clients look for when selecting an expert witness?
Many factors: the expert’s credentials and reputation in the field, the relevance of his or her specific expertise, as well as testimony and publications. The ability to communicate effectively is also critical, since the expert’s role is to impart information of a specialised or technical nature to a lay audience. Finally, an expert witness must be and be seen to be independent and impartial in the view they express, and experienced counsel are good at educating clients on the importance of this.
What qualities make for a successful expert?
A thorough knowledge of the subject is obviously a prerequisite, but is not sufficient. Equally important are: structured and clear-headed thinking; independence; and the ability to convey complex ideas succinctly to a non-specialist audience.
How do you think your analytical approach differs from other experts?
I think my experience of both detail-oriented accounting and big-picture strategy consulting gives me a somewhat unique perspective. Like all quantum experts, I look closely at the numbers – but spend more time trying to see beyond them to understand the commercial drivers that create and sustain value in any business.
What do you enjoy most about being an arbitration expert witness?
The ability to play a role in some of the largest and most complex disputes in the region – with the need to assimilate large amounts of information, understand the commercial drivers of the given industry, and quickly identify the critical points on which the conclusion will rest. These combined with the adversarial setting make this uniquely enjoyable work for those who like intellectual challenge, and are happy to present – and defend – their conclusions.
How do you see your practice developing over the next five years?
In recent years, an increasing proportion of my practice has related to disputes involving private equity investors, including M&A disputes; minority shareholder actions involving take-private transactions; and GP-LP disputes. Given the amount of dry powder currently at the disposal of private equity funds in Asia, I think this is set to continue and grow.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
Look closely at the numbers – then look beyond them!
Mustafa Hadi is a “very active” expert who excels in valuation, damages and accounting matters. His peers "rate him highly", praising him as "a go-to professional in the market".
Mustafa Hadi is a managing director in BRG’s Hong Kong office. He leads the firm’s disputes and international arbitration practice in the Asia-Pacific, and is co-leader of BRG’s Asia-Pacific region. He specialises in addressing issues of valuation, damages and accounting in complex commercial and investment treaty disputes, including M&A, private equity, joint venture, shareholder, breach of contract, and intellectual property disputes.
Mr Hadi is frequently instructed as an expert in international arbitration and in court, and is experienced in oral testimony. His experience spans matters involving the ICC, UNCITRAL, HKIAC, DIAC and CIETAC, and in the courts of the UK, USA, Australia, Hong Kong, Singapore, Ireland, the Cayman Islands, the BVI, Bermuda and the Bahamas. He has extensive experience of disputes involving businesses operating across the Asia-Pacific region, having been based in Hong Kong since 2012, and is fluent in Hindi and Urdu.
Earlier in his career, Mr Hadi worked as a strategy consultant, advising private equity funds, financial institutions, and corporate clients on commercial due diligence, market entry, and corporate strategy. Alongside his dispute work, he also provides valuation advice for strategic, restructuring, and tax purposes and advises on economic and financial issues in regulatory matters.
Mr Hadi regularly presents to law firms on damages and valuation issues, and facilitates advocacy workshops on the cross-examination of expert witnesses. He has also been a guest lecturer on the LLM in Arbitration and Dispute Resolution course at the University of Hong Kong.
He is a fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales and a member of the Academy of Experts, and holds an MA in physics from Cambridge University.