Last week we touched on Deloitte and KPMG facing off in the whole Dubai World fiasco. Today we get the lowdown on the possible difficulties that Aidan Birkett — Deloitte’s MD of corporate finance and the Chief Restructuring Offficer of DW — could run into serving his finicky client.
Hard to believe that a group of über-wealthy sheiks (responsible for re-creating the Earth out of tiny man-made islands, no less) would resist outside advice but it sounds like Birkett will have his hands full.
Zawya Dow Jones:
Bankers say his biggest challenge will be getting Dubai’s government to listen. It’s unclear whether he’ll be given a free hand to remodel Dubai World without the interference of the emirate’s political elite.
“When a foreigner comes into the country, ultimately what happens is that the door closes, people speak Arabic, they come out and they say that’s the deal,” said a Dubai-based investment banker, who asked not to be named.
That doesn’t sound complicated. Go to meeting. Listen to your interpreter struggle to keep up. The sheiks nod in agreement at each other. Meeting adjourned.
Naturally, Deloitte is confident that their man will get what he wants:
People who have worked with Birkett in the past say he is a tough operator and will demand that his advice is heeded by Dubai’s powerful sheiks.
“He is robust and he’s absolutely straight, no nonsense,” said Deloitte’s Ward in Dubai. “He doesn’t have to upset everybody along the way but he gets his own way.”
Sounds like a perfect recipe for a boardroom blowup/storm out session to us. DW doesn’t sound like it has a lot of options since all their assets were purchased with debt, so it’ll be interesting to see how they rationalize their “we’ll do whatever the hell we want” attitude. Best of luck, Deloitte.
FOCUS: Deloitte’s Birkett Faces Struggle With Dubai Sheiks [Zawya Dow Jones via WSJ]