Biography

Abdullah is a UK-qualified bi-lingual Partner in the firm’s Dubai office with over 25 years’ experience practicing in London and the Middle East. He leads the firm’s Corporate Commercial department across the region including the firm’s M&A and Venture Capital & Emerging Companies practices.

Abdullah is a corporate finance specialist with particularly deep experience of cross-border mergers and acquisitions, venture capital and commercial advisory work.  His deal list extends to several multi-billion dollar strategic M&A transactions including sell-side and buy-side mandates in addition to many private equity and principal investing acquisitions and disposals.

Abdullah’s clients include public and private companies, sovereign wealth funds, banks, private equity funds, venture capital firms and family offices and the transactions he has led have involved assets across 33 developed and emerging markets across the globe.   In recent years, Abdullah has gained an unrivalled experience in regional and international venture capital financing transactions and is one of the most experienced venture capital lawyers in the region.

In addition to his transactional experience, Abdullah has represented clients in a number of high-profile turnaround, re-structuring and bankruptcy matters and other ‘special situations’ or financial distress mandates.

Abdullah was named as one of the MENA Super 50 Lawyers by Thomson Reuters’ publication Asian Legal Business in February 2021 and receives outstanding feedback by his clients who regularly cite his qualities as a trusted advisor, a pragmatic problem-solver, a strong negotiator and an outstanding communicator.

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Recent Experience

Venture Capital & Emerging Companies

  • Advising one of the MENA region’s largest VC funds on its participation in a primary Series B equity financing and a secondary acquisition of shares a UK-headquartered telemedicine platform using artificial intelligence, machine learning and augmented reality to enable clinicians to remotely interact in a live procedure or assessment from start to finish.
  • Advising one of the MENA region’s most prolific fund managers to establish a single-LP ADGM-domiciled venture accelerator fund to build and operate an accelerator centre and programme for early-stage companies satisfying the investment thesis of its sovereign wealth fund LP.
  • Advising one of the UAE’s largest corporations in its Series B priced equity financing of UAE-headquartered home services marketplace platform.
  • Advising a prominent executive in the regional fintech ecosystem on the structuring, establishment and financing of a DIFC-domiciled fintech venture builder.
  • Advising the sponsors of a Seed and Series A micro-VC fund on its establishment as an unregulated investment company in ADGM
  • Advising one of MENA’s fastest-growing tech startups on its pre-IPO Series C financing round along with associated vendor due diligence and corporate structuring and cap-table clean up.
  • Advising a GCC sovereign wealth fund impact investing platform on its convertible note seed financing of a US-headquartered company developing closed loop villages with regenerative life support technology.
  • Advising a GCC sovereign wealth fund impact investing platform on its participation in a convertible pre-Series C bridge financing of a German aeronautical developer developing small electric-powered unmanned passenger-carrying aerial vehicles.
  • Advising a GCC sovereign wealth fund impact investing platform on its participation in a convertible note seed financing of a French company developing affordable CE certified high-tech prosthetics
  • Advising the corporate venture arm of a prominent Abu Dhabi family office on its pre-Series A convertible note financing of a UAE-headquartered digital payments platform.
  • Advising one of the MENA region’s largest VC funds on its participation in a primary Series A equity financing of a prominent Nigerian fintech platform offering multiple financial services products to under-banked or un-banked segments of the population and in its secondary acquisition of shares in the company from an existing shareholder.
  • Advising a UAE-headquartered blockchain-based fintech platform enabling essential financial services directly from mobile phone for unbanked customers across the Middle East, Africa and Central Asia on its Series A priced equity venture financing led by one of the region’s largest venture capital funds with co-investment from several international funds from China and Europe.
  • Advising one of the MENA region’s largest VC funds on its Series A priced equity investment in a MENA-based urban mobility platform combining ride-hailing and public transport categories to ease commuter journeys in large populous cities in emerging and frontier markets
  • Advising one of the MENA region’s largest VC funds on its Series A priced equity investment in a MENA-based health and wellness tech app delivering a diverse high quality on-demand personal training offering to customers
  • Advising one of the MENA region’s largest VC funds on its Series A priced equity investment in a rapidly scaling KSA-based e-commerce platform
  • Advising one of the MENA region’s largest VC funds on its Series A priced equity investment in a UAE-based company providing advanced technology solutions to the automotive industry and its participants – providing fast, accurate and real-time data with multiple applications ranging from vehicle evaluation to fleet management.

M&A

  • Representing one of the UAE’s pre-eminent financial investment firms on its prospective acquisition of a substantial majority stake in a regionally listed financial services company via a private sale along with a mandatory tender offer pursuant to the relevant offering rules.
  • Representing one of the region’s leading telecom operators in a potential $2.4 billion acquisition of a controlling stake in a mobile operator in which it holds a minority stake.
  • Representing the owner of one of the largest international F&B franchises comprising more than 130 outlets across the MENA region on the divestment of a significant minority stake to a regional private equity firm.
  • Representing a Chinese logistics conglomerate on its multi-billion-dollar acquisition of a significant stake in a port and logistics facility in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
  • Representing the purchaser of the entire share capital of a broadcast media organisation operating Hindi and Urdu television channels.
  • Representing the founder of a global oil & gas services business in relation to his divestment of a significant minority to stake to a GCC private equity fund.
  • Advising a UAE family conglomerate on its prospective acquisition of a substantial GCC contracting, hospitality and retail business.
  • Representing one of the GCC’s biggest telecommunications groups on several M&A transactions involving the acquisition of licenses and assets in 13 countries in the Middle East and Asia and with an aggregate value in excess of US$ 7 billion.
  • Representing a listed European telecommunications company on its US$ 500 million divestment of a substantial stake in a Middle Eastern telecommunications operator.
  • Representing one of the world’s largest telecommunication companies in relation to its US$ 2.1 billion bid to acquire the second mobile telecommunications license a GCC state through a competitive bidding process.
  • Representing a consortium of investment banks on their US$ 100 million acquisition of a GCC-based engineering and construction company.
  • Representing a consortium of investment banks on their acquisition of a global shipping company engaged in the chemical tankers sector.

Special Situations, turnaround, restructuring and insolvency

  • Advising a leading regulated financial services institution in the GCC on urgent legal remediation measures following a sudden and catastrophic balance sheet solvency event caused by a systemic failure of corporate governance checks and balances. The mandate involved a root and branch due diligence exercise and the drafting of a 2,000 page report analysing systemic failures in depty and recommending immediate remedial actions. The mandate also involved representing the management team in multi-faceted stakeholder engagement and advocacy including with the relevant regulatory bodies resulting in the regulator’s approval of an innovative solution involving the placement of assets in trust to provide immediate balance sheet support and to return the institution to regulatory compliance.
  • Advising a rescue and turnaround consortium comprising several logistics domain experts on the structuring of an emergency short-term liquidity convertible note financing followed by a Series C priced equity ‘pay-to-play’ down-round investment in insolvent technology / logistics company Fetchr.
  • Appointed by a GCC Central Bank as the External Administrator in its statutory administration of an insolvent financial institution that collapsed with US$ 3.2 billion of liabilities as part of the biggest corporate default in the history of the Middle East. In this mandate, which lasted for more than 5 years, I led a team of more than 25 lawyers conducting a complex and multi-disciplinary cross-border asset recovery strategy.
  • Representing the CEO of a major private equity and hedge fund firm on a corporate investigation involving a potential filing to the United States Department of Justice under the U.S. Foreign & Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA).
  • Representing a Saudi Arabian family office in relation to its early-stage investment in a US technology platform along with advice on the structuring and administration of the fund vehicle through which investments were made and which was managed by the client.
  • Representing one of the world’s largest sovereign wealth funds on the restructuring of a substantial portfolio of telecom assets in 9 sub-Saharan African countries with an aggregate value in excess of US$1 billion.
  • Advising the shareholders of an Islamic investment bank on financial restructuring, corporate governance and shareholder control issues connected with a substantial fraud and undertaking a forensic legal analysis of several private equity transactions undertaken by the bank prior to detection of the fraud.

Language(s)

  • Arabic
  • English

Education

1994 – Post Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice, The College of Law, London

1993 – Bachelor of Laws, University of Westminster

Admission

1996 – Qualified Solicitor, England and Wales