Menas Associates’ wide range of consulting services assist our multi-national clients achieve their business objectives in complex markets.
Our consulting services draw on the unique country expertise and experience of our in-house team and established network of external consultants. We consult on a wide range of non-technical risks facing multinational organisations focusing on political, social, security and reputational issues. We provide tailored solutions to meet our clients’ requirements including detailed situational analysis of a country’s political, commercial and social dynamics; assessments of project-specific risks and vulnerabilities; stakeholder mapping and analysis; scenario planning; and multi-jurisdictional benchmarking.
We understand the different issues at stake throughout all phases of the business cycle, from market entry to an eventual exit. Although we do not specialise in crisis management our expertise can be called upon to assist in a crisis or to lead efforts to resolve complex problems before they escalate. When appropriate we provide actionable recommendations – often developed in collaboration with the client – to reduce their vulnerability, identified risks, and successfully engage stakeholders to protect our client’s reputation.
Our work is always presented in the most appropriate manner. Whether as written reports, briefings, workshops or a combination of approaches; we aim to ensure a seamless integration between our approach and the clients’ own risk management processes. The success and value of our consulting offering is founded on transparency and accountability as trusted advisers, absolute client confidentiality, efficiency to ensure maximum value for money and corporate responsibility towards the societies on which we advise.
Market Entry Assessment & Strategy:
Menas provides clients with a clear and contextualised picture of a country’s political, regulatory, socio-economic, and infrastructural conditions.
We highlight the risks they are likely to encounter at a market-entry stage and at a more advanced phase of company engagement, and work with the client to develop ways to mitigate risk and capitalise on opportunities.
Case Study One: entry strategy
We put together a team of experts to analyse the political, security, economic, corruption and environmental risks involved in operating in the country and how they may affect a business that would be committing to a long term investment, while identifying key stakeholders within the country who the company would have to engage with.
This enabled our client to make an informed decision on whether they should make a financial commitment to the country.
Case Study Two: country entry
A client planned to form a long-term partnership with one of two international oil companies in order to enter eight new countries in North and West Africa. Each company would have brought different technical, operational, financial and political skill sets to the deal.
With our in-house team and one external consultant, we conducted an independent assessment of the advantages and disadvantages of partnership with either of the two companies.
We produced a report examining the non-technical reputation of these companies and the relationships their country’s governments had in North and West Africa.
This enabled our client to make an informed decision about their planned partnership.
Designing a business or investment strategy in fluid, emerging-market environments requires timely and flexible access to independent in-country expertise.
A clear understanding of the dynamics behind a major policy shift, the introduction of new legislation, or the motives behind hostile government action enables a company to make better decisions in the face of seemingly unpredictable developments.
Using our investigative, analytical and consulting capabilities, Menas Associates provides companies with facts, objective interpretation, and forward-looking views about the environment around them.
This helps companies to deepen their understanding of key political developments that might affect their business.
Case Study One: foreign policy reports
In early 2015 we produced a foreign policy report for an international oil and gas company.
Our client wanted to gain a comprehensive understanding of how Egypt was developing its international relations, especially with regards to the US, Saudi Arabia, and four European countries.
Our MENA Regional Manager led the project. He was supported by five consultants, each focussing on their country of expertise.
Case Study Two: integrated impact assessments
When our clients enter emerging markets, it is almost inevitable that their work will have a large impact on the economy of the local community. Knowledge of this impact is essential not only for the company’s integrity but also for its ability to continue to deal with the surrounding political situation and develop good relationships on the ground.
When one of our clients was looking to enter a market in the Faroe Islands, we assessed the economic, political, social and environmental impacts this might have. In collaboration with the University of the Faroe Islands, we led an inter-disciplinary team in conducting a baseline survey and predicting the impact of oil-related exploration and production.
Case Study Three: mineral and petroleum resources legislation in South Africa
Our client asked us to track the progress of a piece of legislation governing mineral and petroleum resources through South Africa’s legislature. We were asked to provide independent insights into what the final bill may contain, how it may be different from earlier versions and which of the various interests influencing the writing of the bill may dominate the outcome.
Thanks to our understanding of the dynamics in the South African political system, we were able to track the history of the bill, highlight the significance of key terms and provide insight into the power of the various lobbies (both within and without politics) in influencing the bill at a time of increasing division within the ruling ANC. Finally, thanks to our contacts in the interested sectors and the political system we were able to advise on the likely outcome on key issues in the final bill, in order to allow our clients to prepare their strategy on investment in the country.
In order to implement or amend business strategies, companies sometimes require more subjective advice.
We draw on our thirty years of experience to fulfil this role. In providing strategic advice we apply the business intelligence we gather to our client’s specific circumstances, outlining different options for action and the strengths and weaknesses of each.
One option we offer to clients who wish to access strategic advice on an on-going basis is a flexible ‘retainer’ system. Some examples of how this system has been used in the past include providing an IOC with weekly calls on Nigeria’s Petroleum Industries Bill and providing another company with regular updates on the Iranian nuclear issue.
We carry out discreet due diligence investigations to reduce clients’ exposure to reputational and commercial risks that come from working with third-parties in emerging markets.
The majority of our cases focus on establishing the true reputation and track record of individuals or entities seeking to do business with our clients. We also look at what advantages such contacts confer and weigh up alternative routes.
Menas operates under conditions of absolute confidentiality; the client’s name is only known to one or two core Menas staff and is never revealed to our consultants, and we ensure that the ‘target’ individual or company remains unaware that they are being investigated.
Businesses looking to work in complex countries can benefit from having any ‘red flags’ associated with prospective partners brought to their attention early on in the market-entry process.
Initially, the client may be reluctant to commission a full-scale due diligence project, especially since often there is no need for further investigation.
Menas’ ‘red flag’ due diligence allows clients to keep costs to a minimum. Our team conducts an initial overview of the individual or organisation in question, in order to ascertain whether our client can confidently go ahead with the partnership, or if potential reputational or legal risks exist.
In the case of the latter, Menas will recommend a more thorough due diligence project.
We have conducted due diligence reports in over 30 countries across the Middle East, Africa, Latin America, and Eastern Europe. The subjects of these reports have ranged from state employees to private businessmen, from sheikhs to expatriates.
Our recent due diligence investigations have included:
- Abu Dhabi – a merchant family
- Algeria – generals, agents, trading companies
- Argentina – private sector company, local oil company, leading lawyer
- Azerbaijan – one of the country’s richest individuals, private sector oil company
- Bahrain – company claiming to be able to assist IOCs in a third country
- Benin – major car importer
- Brazil – relative of state governor, mining company, large manufacturer
- Chad – shareholder in farm-in opportunity
- Dubai – expatriate individuals and companies
- Egypt – businessmen, downstream oil and petrochemical companies
- Ghana – minority shareholders in oil concession, leading businessmen
- India – owners of a private sector oil company
- Indonesia – owners of local mining company
- Iran – one of the leading Bonyads, private oil companies
- Iraq – tribal leaders claiming to be able to assist foreign companies, merchant families
- Israel – leading shareholders in government supported company
- Kuwait – merchant families, members of the ruling family, Palestinian controlled firm
- Libya – members of the ‘inner circle’, CEO of large company, technology company
- Mauritiana – trading company
- Morocco – applicant for senior position in European firm
- Nigeria – shareholders, purchaser of Nigerian subsidiary, applicants for exploration acreage, trading companies
- Oman – well-connected businessmen, trading family
- Palestine – West Bank politician, trading company
- Russia – private sector oil company with possible links to Gazprom
- Syria – member of the ‘inner circle’
- Saudi Arabia – shareholder in bank, trading company, Western firm subsidiary
- Senegal – private individuals
- Tunisia – technology importer, local banker
- Ukraine – private sector oil company
- Venezuela – subsidiary of small foreign oil company
- Vietnam – relative of minister, trading company
- West Africa – regional assets of the European oil company
- Yemen – leading sheikh, trading firm
Political and Social Risk Consulting:
Our political and social risk assessments provide a coherent overview of the non-technical risks that may undermine our clients’ business objectives.
Most risks revolve around security of tenure, regulatory and fiscal changes, major security incidents, loss of social licence, and risks posed by corruption and interference by vested interests.
Each assessment evaluates the probability and consequence of events or trends and is tailored to meet the client’s specific requirements.
We work together with clients to eliminate gaps in their existing risk management strategy.
Our client was considering a major new investment in Niger.
The company was aware that a low-level insurgency in desert regions had posed a threat to IOCs operating in the area and wished to better understand the local political and social dynamics affecting the security environment.
Having worked with the client to understand its risk appetite and likely footprint, Menas deployed a consultant (widely considered the world’s leading expert on the Sahel) to conduct in-country research to supplement our existing knowledge.
Our consultant conducted extensive but discreet interviews with national and local stakeholders to identify prevailing dynamics and to establish the likely attitudes to our client’s investment.
We provided our client with a detailed report analysing the social drivers of the insurgency, examining security issues experienced by other companies, and providing recommendations to our client for cultivating and maintaining their social license to operate.
We use our extensive knowledge of local conditions to support investors in dealing with key stakeholders, including national and local bodies, host communities, government representatives, and in-country agencies.
Menas evaluates in-country stakeholder engagement practices and recommends an appropriate strategy for engaging them in order to achieve mutually beneficial working practices.
Our client was considering entering two new countries for shale gas exploration. The company needed to understand the attitude of its most important stakeholders towards foreign oil sector investment in general and shale exploration in particular; and then develop an engagement strategy for each group.
We identified the main stakeholder groups – which included the presidency, government, key ministries, political parties, local government, security forces, trade unions, NGOs, and the local community itself – and then confidentially determined the attitude of each of these groups towards the client’s proposed operations.
Our report enabled the client to identify and address the principal areas of concern for each of the stakeholders. As a result, our client’s projects progressed quickly and smoothly, saving the company both time and money.
Throughout our thirty years in operation, Menas has formed strong connections with individuals and companies in diverse industries throughout the Middle East and Africa, from energy and finance to government and consumer goods – and we continue to do so.
We encounter many opportunities to bring together companies with complementary business objectives, and we want to enable our clients to take advantage of this.