x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Corporate investigators to step up Gulf presence

Nardello represents newest entrant in a growing list of peers

Corporate investigations and due diligence companies are beefing up in the Gulf as investors broaden their global reach and keep closer watch over money after the financial crisis.

Nardello and Co, a due diligence outfit with offices in the US, UK and Italy, is looking to set up in the UAE as early as this year, becoming the newest entrant in a growing list of peers who consider the Gulf ripe for expansion.

"The region has been and is becoming even more of a financial powerhouse, and in many ways the UAE, and Abu Dhabi and Dubai in particular, are becoming economic centres for the region," said Daniel Nardello, the founder and chief executive of Nardello and Co.

"We're getting to the point where we think it would be beneficial to have a presence here, and we're actively looking at that."

Mr Nardello said he hoped the company would cement its commitment to the region with a new office by the end of the year.

Rana Feghali, a former investigative journalist at newspapers including Asharq Alawsat, an Arabic paper based in London, joined Nardello last year as its head for the Middle East.

The growth of the business, Ms Feghali said, reflected "companies in the region becoming more international, diversifying within the region and internationally".

Companies and individuals hire corporate investigation and due diligence companies to perform tasks ranging from checking out potential investments to locating assets held by people suspected of fraud.

That business has picked up as investors from the Gulf buy into fast growth in China, Brazil and other emerging markets.

Foreign investors are also asking due diligence companies to look into potential investments and business partners in the Gulf.

Stronger enforcement of laws covering corporate activities by regulators across the globe is also driving the growth in demand for due diligence work.

Corporate investigation companies often help companies evaluate their compliance with international laws on bribery and corruption. Enforcement of US bribery laws has stepped up in the past few years, though there is little clarity yet about prosecutions under the new UK bribery act.

Companies and individual investors are also increasingly seeking help from due diligence companies after the financial crisis, which has ushered in a new era of prudence in evaluating and selecting investments.

 

afitch@thenational.ae