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Thought Leaders

Thought Leaders

Mustafa Hadi

Mustafa Hadi

Berkeley Research GroupLevel 20, One International Financial Centre1 Harbour View Street, CentralHong KongHong Kong

Thought Leader

WWL Ranking: Global Elite Thought Leader

WWL says

Mustafa Hadi is “very responsive and analytical” and draws praise as “extremely clever”, especially in disputes and expert testimony valuations.

Questions & Answers

Mustafa Hadi leads BRG’s disputes and international arbitration practice in Asia–Pacific (APAC) 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.

What do you enjoy most about your role as a testifying expert?

The complex nature of the issues we have to grapple with and the smart people we get to work with.

What did you find most challenging about entering the field of international arbitration?

The greatest challenge was that as a finance professional I didn’t know it existed. Having ‘fallen’ into the area of expert witness work, the rest was fairly straightforward. I think more can be done to increase awareness of this type of work in the finance field.

Secondly, I was fortunate to get a number of opportunities to testify early in my career – but when I look at the next generation of emerging experts, I do see how hard it can be for them to get those initial opportunities.

What are the best ways of remaining impartial and independent when providing analysis and testimony?

‘Would you have the same opinion if instructed by the other side?’ is a good question to ask yourself. 

What impact have deteriorating US-China relations had on your practice and international arbitration in general? 

It is resulting in an increase in disputes as macro changes in how economies are interconnected and businesses are configured do not occur without ‘friction’ and ‘transaction costs’ – including disputes. These are ending up in a range of court jurisdictions (onshore and offshore) as well as in arbitration. Chinese companies retracting from the US capital markets has been a major driver of such work.

Increased regulatory scrutiny of Chinese companies listed in the US has accelerated the trend among Chinese companies to delist in the US, leading to contentious valuation issues between buyers and minority shareholders, often fought out in the courts of the Cayman Islands, where the majority are of these companies are incorporated. BRG has been involved in several of these high-profile contentious valuations, acting on both the dissenters and company side.

Deteriorating US-China relations have also highlighted the fragility of global supply chains heavily dependent on China, and corporates are now focused on improving supply chain resilience, leading to potential disputes arising out of supply chain disruption. These international supply contracts typically include arbitration clauses and so will likely result in more international arbitration cases.

What influence do you see covid-19 having on trends in the types of disputes going to arbitration?

M&A disputes, often involving private equity funds, have been a significant part of my practice for many years. If anything, we have seen an uptick in such disputes, including M&A transactions involving corporate players, as covid-19 has impacted the underlying businesses in most sectors of the economy. 

To what extent will Hong Kong continue to thrive as an attractive jurisdiction for arbitration work in future, and why? 

The Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre (HKIAC) remains very well regarded with record numbers of cases and constant self-improvements, such as the Mutual Arrangement on Interim Measures, which gives mainland courts the ability to order interim measures in support of institutional arbitrations seated in Hong Kong. There is currently no such arrangement for arbitrations seated in other foreign jurisdictions, giving Hong Kong a competitive edge where a Chinese party is involved. The jurisdiction continues to liberalise, e.g. including with respect to emergency arbitration and third-party funding. Finally, there is a vibrant community of arbitration practitioners, with a number of high-profile events being held in Hong Kong – and as described above, we expect Hong Kong will continue to attract a significant number of China-related arbitrations.

What has been your most memorable arbitration case to date, and why?

With very few exceptions, most cases are so interesting that the last one is usually the most memorable – until the next! 

How do you see the demands of clients changing over the next five years?

Clients will look for more flexibility and efficiencies in how they work with all professional advisors, given the economic pressures of covid-19, as well as the changes in working styles the pandemic has brought about. We will not escape such pressures and using technology more effectively will be critical.

I think there will be a narrower focus on the specific expertise required, and specialist industry expertise will play a bigger role.

Thought Leaders - Arbitration Expert Witnesses 2020

Q&A

WWL Ranking: Thought Leader

WWL says

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".

Questions & Answers

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.

What motivated you to become an arbitration expert? 

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. I have worked as an arbitration expert ever since.

What do you find to be the most challenging aspect of your role as a testifying expert? 

One challenge of this role – particularly in a region where it is not always well understood – is explaining to clients that an expert’s duty is to the tribunal, and the need as an expert to give your independent professional opinion. For some clients, it is the first time they have engaged a professional on such a basis, and it can take them some getting used to!

Why, in your opinion, has the number of expert witnesses in arbitrations accelerated so much in recent years? 

Disputes are growing in scale and complexity, which means the number of expert witnesses is accelerating in parallel. At the same time, those with relevant skills (valuers, accountants, economists, engineers, etc) are becoming more aware of this field of work, so a broader set of professionals active in this area is emerging.

What are the pros and cons of tribunal-appointed experts in comparison to party-appointed experts? 

There are a number of schools of thought with regard to the advantages of tribunal versus party appointed experts.

General arguments in support of tribunals appointing experts focus on three main points: first, the suggestion that it is the only way to guarantee the independence of expert advice; second, it assists arbitrators in cutting through complexity and managing costs rather than creating more of each; and third, even where used alongside party-appointed experts, and thereby increasing costs at first blush, it could in fact improve the true efficiency of the arbitration process, if that term is properly understood.

Party-appointed experts is the pro-client position, and the only way to ensure that party autonomy is respected. It is arguably for the parties to decide how to present their case to the tribunal. Mandating that tribunals appoint experts – to the exclusion of the parties – undermines this principle.

In summary, party-appointed experts are very much the norm, while tribunal-appointed experts are the exception.

On what type of matters are clients approaching you with frequently at present? 

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. The second area that is very active is forensic accounting matters regarding allegations of accounting irregularities, often involving listed companies.

What challenges do the next generation of expert witnesses face?

The volume of documents and information at play in major commercial disputes continues to grow, and it is inevitable that over time technology will increasingly be applied to filter and make sense of this. Experts in valuation, damages and other disciplines will need to rely on such tools and their outputs – and the need to grapple with these will require skills that go beyond their core areas of expertise.

What has been your greatest achievement to date? 

Establishing Berkeley Research’s Group presence in the Asia-Pacific region in 2015, which we have grown substantially. We now have a number of offices in the region, and are very active in our core markets of Greater China, Korea, South East Asia and Japan.  

What advice would you give to younger experts hoping to one day be in your position?

Learn something new every day. Being an “expert” requires staying on top of the latest developments and research in your field, so see this as a journey rather than a destination.

WWL Ranking: Thought Leader

WWL says

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”.

Questions & Answers

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!

Global Leader

WWL Ranking: Recommended

Peers and clients say

"He is super responsive and leads a great team"
"Mustafa is able to understand the complex industry-related issues very quickly and provide a thorough analysis of lost profits"
“He is well known in the market and the Hong Kong’s arbitration community”
"Mustafa is highly intelligent, a master of his subject and very detail focused" 

Biography

Mustafa Hadi is a managing director in BRG’s Hong Kong and Singapore offices. 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, KCAB and CIETAC, and in the courts of the UK, 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 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. He holds an MA in physics from Cambridge University.

WWL Ranking: Recommended

WWL says

Mustafa Hadi of Berkeley Research Group is “very responsive and analytical” and draws praise as “extremely clever”, especially in disputes and expert testimony valuations.

Biography

Mustafa Hadi is a managing director in BRG’s Hong Kong and Singapore offices. 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, KCAB and CIETAC, and in the courts of the UK, 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 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. He holds an MA in physics from Cambridge University.

WWL Ranking: Recommended

WWL says

Mustafa Hadi is looked upon with enormous favour for his deep expertise in forensic accounting relating to high-value international disputes.

Biography

Mustafa Hadi is a managing director in BRG’s Hong Kong and Singapore offices. 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, KCAB and CIETAC, and in the courts of the UK, 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 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. He holds an MA in physics from Cambridge University.

WWL Ranking: Recommended

WWL says

Mustafa Hadi is “very personable and a pleasure to work with” remark impressed sources, with one adding, “He has a strong intellect and demonstrates broad knowledge across a number of areas. Mustafa always has a clear understanding of our needs and the requirements of his role, as well as the bigger picture of the case.”

Biography

Mustafa Hadi is a managing director in BRG’s Hong Kong and Singapore offices. 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, KCAB and CIETAC, and in the courts of the UK, 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 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. He holds an MA in physics from Cambridge University.

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