QYour team helps clients understand the value of business or asset transactions and make informed decisions about how to invest. Tell us a little about your work.
In the Deal Advisory team, we do a lot of deep dive due diligence into projects and assets for key clients. This includes a mix of technical and commercial due diligence. Personally, along with the commercial risks, my focus tends to be the review of project financing and credit ratings for projects.
Understanding the financials of projects on a really intimate level makes it easier for our clients to communicate with the lenders they borrow from. We field questions from banks, which are becoming more sophisticated and detailed all the time.
In Deal Advisory, we also work as independent certifiers for projects. This means we review all of the construction milestones and provide recommendations on drawdown requests to banking institutions (how and when project owners access funds to help them finance project delivery).
It’s in-depth work and requires a real blend of skills – technical, commercial, environmental sustainability and governance (ESG), and financial – our team brings all of that together to help clients achieve their goals.
What do you like to do outside of work?
I’m nuts about fly-fishing! I design and make my own flies as well.
Who inspires you most and why?
Former Prime Minister of Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew. He was right at the forefront of Singaporean independence and really laid out the vision for Singapore and led the country to that vision.
What did you want to be when you were growing up?
I wanted to be a brewer! I figured if you brew beer you’d always be in demand.
QHow do you help clients maximise their return on investment? What’s involved?
When it comes to Merger & Acquisition (M&A) deals – for example, a big private equity firm buying an existing infrastructure asset – it’s often about developing a good Transition Plan for them. We write a detailed business plan about what the client should do with that asset in the first hundred days, or year after they acquire it. What does it take to operate this asset well? What cost saving opportunities are there?
We are often also engaged beyond financial close (of the deal) to monitor how that Transition Plan is going. If there are risks or issues that come up, we can help the client understand and address them.
QWhat trends are you seeing in deal transactions at the moment? What’s driving investment?
If you look at the hard lending numbers, sustainability has become an exponential driver. Sustainability link financing is all about changing behaviour across the corporate community, and corporate treasurers and fund managers are really driven to demonstrate their ESG credentials to shareholders. It’s been with us for a while but it’s only going to increase.
We are seeing that play out through action in the renewable energy space, and growing interest from clients in hydrogen projects as well. For example, our team is advising the Federal Government in Australia on seven Hydrogen Hubs that it is looking to develop. As the world makes the transition towards Net Zero, we’re going to be really involved in supporting that through the creation of pools of renewable energy assets – so it’s definitely a growth area.
Related to that is the growing interest we are seeing in Liquid Natural Gas (LNG). With the conflict that is going on in Eastern Europe and the pressure that that is putting on global energy markets – it’s a real force for investment in the LNG sector.
Transportation is another investment focus. There are lots of road schemes being developed throughout Asia, along with aviation projects. Pre-COVID, Asia was the biggest growth market in the world for aviation, and that will start to come back again.
QYou’re the Country Lead for Deal Advisory in Singapore. What do you enjoy most about living and working there?
If you come from our line of business, and you have an interest in infrastructure and economic development and planning, you won’t fail to be bowled over by the place.
In Singapore, the mass rapid transit (MRT) system is absolutely incredible. You’re guaranteed to have a train every 90 seconds in rush hour. But even that wasn’t good enough for Singapore. They’re trying to get that down to 60 seconds. And that’s the sort of place it is. It’s an incredibly safe place, they get things done, and people look after each other. It’s a great place to live and work.
QWhat makes for a good Deal Advisor – what kind of skills do you need?
You have to be able engage your clients. Call it gravitas, credibility, whatever – it’s about engaging with people and creating great relationships.
Once that’s done and you’ve won the job and created that trust, you have to be able to walk the walk as well. No one is an expert on everything. So deal advisory consultants need the ability to develop a deep pool of talent that they can draw on. If you create a universe of talent around you, you can create a seamless delivery experience for clients. And that’s what it’s all about.