Emissary is a global firm advising investors on NPV-based management of their cross-border disputes and political risks.

Emissary works with institutional investors, asset managers and corporate clients to help maximise recoveries available from disputes and minimise losses arising from political risks.

Headquartered in London, with key advisers in New York, Paris and Dubai, our global team draws on the fields of international dispute resolution, commercial diplomacy, corporate intelligence, litigation funding, insurance and public affairs.

Financial disputes are manifesting for global investors at an increasing speed and scale, with hundreds of billions of dollars per year in lost GDP and even more in lost future growth. Emissary’s mission is to make the world more peaceful and prosperous through better management of cross-border disputes and political risks.

Our Model

What matters most in the resolution of a dispute are financial impact, commercial operations, and preservation of reputation.

Emissary therefore approaches every dispute as an original “transaction in reverse”, modelling the economic characteristics and describing the multiple options for resolution on an NPV basis.

Empowering our clients to make informed choices, we set a course for an efficient NPV-based recovery and serve as project manager for the case.

Emissary aligns its incentives to the client’s underlying financial and commercial wellbeing through use of fixed and incentive compensation.

“Emissary has been our consummate trusted advisor. When we were facing a dispute with many cross-border pitfalls, Emissary helped us develop a 360-degree view of the case, assemble the strongest possible advisory team, and align our strategy for the most expeditious recovery.”

Chief Investment Officer, US Single Family Office

Services

We work with clients across the Dispute Lifecycle to maximise recoveries and limit losses:

The Dispute Lifecycle

Dispute risks manifest and mature over the lifecycle of an investment. At each stage, the Emissary team evaluates risks through multiple lenses and develops plans to optimise our client's NPV position.

Dispute risks manifest and mature over the lifecycle of an investment. At each stage, the Emissary team evaluates risks through multiple lenses and develops plans to optimise our client's NPV position.

1

Political Risk Containment

For cross-border, fixed-asset investments, political risks can be catastrophic. Political risk insurance tends to be expensive and does not include active monitoring or pre-emption of risk.

Emissary works with investors to anticipate their political risk scenarios, manage their political risk expenditure and workplans, limit losses on an NPV basis, and achieve premium savings.

For cross-border, fixed-asset investments, political risks can be catastrophic. Political risk insurance tends to be expensive and does not include active monitoring or pre-emption of risk.

Emissary works with investors to anticipate their political risk scenarios, manage their political risk expenditure and workplans, limit losses on an NPV basis, and achieve premium savings.

2

Disputes Management & Strategy

For any investor in a dispute, the overriding incentive should be to maximise shareholder value according to time value (e.g., IRR, NPV and MOIC); and yet, most investors entrust the management of these exposures to legal advisers, who operate on very different incentives.

Emissary helps clients consider the many pathways available to resolving a dispute most efficiently, build a case strategy with maximum control and economic leverage, and avoid pitfalls such as enforceability risks.

For any investor in a dispute, the overriding incentive should be to maximise shareholder value according to time value (e.g., IRR, NPV and MOIC); and yet, most investors entrust the management of these exposures to legal advisers, who operate on very different incentives.

Emissary helps clients consider the many pathways available to resolving a dispute most efficiently, build a case strategy with maximum control and economic leverage, and avoid pitfalls such as enforceability risks.

3

Diplomatic Settlement

For investors in protracted disputes, Emissary helps clients and their legal counsel engage in constructive dialogue with adverse parties through commercial diplomacy.

We expedite settlements through analysis of underlying counterparty incentives, mapping counterparty network or ecosystem, and engaging discussions.

In select cases, we also use commercial diplomacy to help access and de-risk new global business development and investment opportunities.

For investors in protracted disputes, Emissary helps clients and their legal counsel engage in constructive dialogue with adverse parties through commercial diplomacy.

We expedite settlements through analysis of underlying counterparty incentives, mapping counterparty network or ecosystem, and engaging discussions.

In select cases, we also use commercial diplomacy to help access and de-risk new global business development and investment opportunities.

Team

Our global team brings together leading minds from the fields of international dispute resolution, commercial diplomacy, corporate intelligence, litigation funding, insurance, and public affairs.

Our head office is in London, with advisors in New York, Paris and Dubai.

Matthew L. McGrath

Founder and Managing Director

Adrian Winstanley OBE

Senior Advisor

Mark Beer OBE

Senior Advisor

J. Peter Donald

Senior Advisor

Dr. Simon King

Senior Advisor

Harriet Okwi

Senior Advisor

Peter Norton

Director of Operations

Tanya Lansky

Associate

Jack Hillan

Analyst

Matthew L. McGrath
Founder and Managing Director

Matthew L. McGrath is the Managing Director of Emissary, having founded the firm in late 2018 with the view that top-tier investors should be as analytically-driven in managing their disputes as they are with their investments.

Matt serves as chief executive of the firm, setting overall direction, leading client engagements, and building the team and network. His clients include major business families from the United States, United Kingdom, Europe and the Middle East, as well as investors in private equity, energy, infrastructure and international arbitration claims.

Previously, Matt spent nine years with the Albright Stonebridge Group (ASG), a global strategy and commercial diplomacy firm in Washington, D.C. founded by former U.S. Secretary of State Madeline Albright, former U.S. National Security Advisor Sandy Berger and partners. While at ASG, Matt co-founded the firm’s Alternative Dispute Resolution practice and advised investor, corporate and foundation clients across over 40 international markets.

Matt began his career in politics, working at the Office of Vice President Joe Biden at the White House, the Democratic National Committee, the European Parliament, the U.S. State Department and the Office of the Governor of Massachusetts.

He also currently serves on the board of the University of Oxford’s Deep Tech Dispute Resolution Lab, as Vice Chair of the Harriman Foreign Service Fellowships in Washington, D.C., and as a member of the Milken Institute’s Young Leaders Circle.

Matt holds a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Vanderbilt University and an MBA from Saïd Business School at the University of Oxford, where he is a frequent guest lecturer on global and non-market strategies.

Adrian Winstanley OBE
Senior Advisor

Adrian Winstanley OBE is a Senior Advisor to Emissary, providing strategic advice on the firm’s management and governance, and brings to bear many years of experience in arbitration and mediation in support of resolution strategies on behalf of the firm’s clients.

Adrian is an English solicitor who served as the Director General of the London Court of International Arbitration (LCIA) for 14 years, where he oversaw hundreds of arbitrations and mediations arising from a wide range of industries and jurisdictions. He also played a pivotal role in the establishment and operation of DIFC-LCIA (Dubai), LCIA-India, and LCIA-MIAC (Mauritius), acquiring valuable insight into commercial arbitration in the Gulf, Asia, and Africa.

Adrian initially joined the LCIA as Registrar in 1997, being appointed Director General in 2000. He served as a member of the LCIA Court for 11 years and on its Board for 15 years. Prior to joining the LCIA, Adrian qualified as an English solicitor at Clifford Chance, following a career in business. Adrian is currently a member of the Panels of Arbitrators of AAA-ICDR, SIAC and Korean Commercial Arbitration Board, and of the Council of Mumbai Centre for International Arbitration. He is also a consultant-advisor to BCDR-AAA, Bahrain, as well as to Dispute Resolution Data.

He has also served on the Board of the International Dispute Resolution Centre, one of the world’s leading arbitration hearing facilities since its foundation in 1999; and previously as Secretary-Treasurer of the International Federation of Commercial Arbitration Institutions (IFCAI) from 2000 to 2009; and later as a Vice President of IFCAI between 2009 and 2013.

Adrian was awarded the OBE in June 2013 for services to international arbitration.

He holds a BSc with first class honours in Social Policy and Administration from the London School of Economics and a diploma in law from Westminster University.

Mark Beer OBE
Senior Advisor

Mark Beer OBE is a Senior Advisor to Emissary, providing strategic advice for the firm’s growth and substantial regional advisory coverage for the Middle East and Central Asia.

Mark is the former Chief Executive of the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) Courts, where he worked for ten years in varying capacities. He also served as the Chief Executive of the DIFC’s Dispute Resolution Authority between 2014 and 2018.

While at the DIFC, Mark was behind the hyper-connectivity strategy of the DIFC Dispute Resolution Authority, having been instrumental in developing links with China, Kazakhstan, Abu Dhabi Judicial Department, Ras al-Khaimah and the Dubai Judicial Institute, to name a few.

Mark currently serves as Chairman of the Metis Institute and the Board of Trustees of the Global Legal Action Network, and is the co-founder of Oxford’s DeepTech Dispute Resolution Lab. Mark also serves as an advisor to Resolve Disputes Online, is a lawyer with Keystone Law and is on the MENA advisory board of City University.

He is a member of the International Council of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Kazakhstan; The Innovation Working Group of the Task Force on Justice; the World Economic Forum's Expert Network; and the Commercial Dispute Resolution Taskforce, part of the UK Government's LawTech Delivery Panel.

Before joining the DIFC Courts in 2008, Mark served as Regional Counsel for South Asia, Middle East and Africa, and then Vice President, Sales and Corporate Services, for MasterCard. Prior to that, he worked at Edge and Ellison, Clyde & Co in Dubai and then as a corporate finance lawyer at Man Investments in Switzerland. Mark has also held numerous board positions across various sectors in the UK and UAE.

Mark was awarded an OBE in 2013 for his work in strengthening relations between the UK and the UAE.

He graduated from the University of Oxford with a degree in jurisprudence law. He is currently a Visiting Fellow of the University of Oxford, where he is a member of the Advisory Council of Lady Margaret Hall, and a Visiting Professor at the Shanghai University of Political Science and Law.

Dr. Simon King
Senior Advisor

Dr. Simon King is a Senior Advisor to Emissary and the founder of GMTL, a leading business intelligence company. Simon works with Emissary to help investors and corporate decision-makers better understand the sources of their major disputes, thereby enabling better resolution strategies.

Prior to founding GMTL, Simon was a Partner of Hakluyt & Company, a leading London-based intelligence company, where he led the firm’s defence and aerospace practice. He also worked as a government affairs specialist at Accenture and as a strategy consultant at No.10 Downing Street, HM Treasury and the Cabinet Office.

Earlier in his career, Simon spent three years advising the Irish Prime Minister on policy and political strategy.

Simon has a Bachelor’s degree in History and Politics from Trinity College, Dublin, and a PhD from Oxford University. He frequently lectures on the topics of business intelligence, crisis management and geopolitical risk.

Peter Norton
Director of Operations

Peter Norton is Director of Operations, responsible for the firm’s operational systems and processes including technology and data, knowledge management, organisational development and recruitment.

Prior to joining Emissary in 2020, Peter worked in global executive search at Korn Ferry and Sheffield Haworth, and founded his own boutique, SGS Advisory Limited, to serve early-stage companies.

Peter has advised clients on four continents for tier-one banking firms, asset managers, sovereign wealth funds, and private-equity-backed ventures. His experience in organisational development includes investment research and strategy, geopolitical risk, global financial markets, technology and operations.

Peter was educated at Eton College.

Tanya Lansky
Associate

Tanya Lansky is an Associate of the firm, responsible for business development and marketing, services development, as well as managing key client relationships.

Prior to joining Emissary in 2020, Tanya spent four years at TheJudge Global, a leading brokerage for disputes funding and insurance as well as related cost and risk hedging products. There she worked on a wide variety of disputes in areas such as international arbitration, cross-border litigation and insolvency.

Tanya began her career working for Lewis Baach, an international litigation boutique firm in New York, where she was exposed to a spread of civil and commercial disputes, ranging from antitrust and contract to fraud and intellectual property.

She holds an LL.B. from the University of West London, speaks some Spanish and is bilingual in English and French.

J. Peter Donald
Senior Advisor

Peter Donald is a Senior Advisor to Emissary based in New York. Peter provides global communications and media capabilities on behalf of Emissary’s clients, creating reputation strategies that enhance opportunities to resolve disputes and protect against downside concerns.

Peter has worked at the highest levels of U.S. law enforcement communications, having served as Assistant Commissioner of the New York Police Department and Director of Public Affairs for the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s New York field office.

At both law enforcement agencies, Peter served as spokesperson, managing communications for major news stories related to high-stakes international events, investigations, legal matters and public policies.

He currently serves as Senior Vice President of Reevemark in New York and as Advisor to Elucd, a technology company that provides cities with near-real time understanding of citizens’ concerns.

Previously, Peter served as Head of Communications for Citizen, a crime reporting app and as a Senior Associate at Smith Fairfield, an integrated communications and event management firm in Washington, D.C.

He also served as a national advance representative for the McCain-Palin campaign in 2008 and as a staffer in the European Parliament and U.S. House of Representatives.

He holds a Bachelor’s degree from the Catholic University of America and a Master’s degree from New York University.

Jack Hillan
Analyst

Jack Hillan serves as an Analyst with Emissary, responsible for client research, data analysis, asset-tracing and due diligence. Jack also leads the firm’s financial administration and provides business development and operational support.

Prior to joining Emissary in 2019, Jack trained with leading business intelligence firms in London, including placements with GPW, Alaco and Enyo Law.

He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Classics from Durham University.

Harriet Okwi
Senior Advisor

Harriet Okwi is a Senior Advisor to Emissary based in Paris. As Founder and Director of Okwi & Partners, an Africa-focused energy consulting practice, she provides Emissary with strategic advice in the fields of energy and infrastructure, with a focus on the African continent.

Prior to founding Okwi & Partners, Harriet worked as a Senior Consultant and Africa Business Development Lead at IHS Markit, the leading global information services firm. Throughout her career, Harriet has helped many leading companies and government institutions to develop strategies for investment in the African power, oil and gas sectors. Her past research has covered energy policy, power and petroleum product pricing, energy supply and demand, energy sector infrastructure, and energy market competition.

Harriet has delivered numerous presentations in various fora across the African continent and has guest-lectured at the American University of Paris.

Harriet holds an MBA from the University of Oxford, a Master’s degree in International Affairs from Sciences Po Paris and a Bachelor’s in Political Science from Makerere University. She speaks English, French, and Swahili.

Case Studies

Since our founding in late 2018, we continue to build a track record of positive impact on behalf of leading investors.

Holistic resolution strategy on behalf of a multi-billion US investment trust

Our client, a US family investment trust, held a minority shareholding in an Asian business through a hedge fund.

The hedge fund manager and majority owner in the Asian business had provided a redemption for the investment, however, was unwilling to supply information on valuation, calling the matter closed.

Following preliminary advice obtained from independent counsel, our client came to us seeking a holistic overview of their circumstances in order to ascertain the best course of action.

Our preliminary estimate confirmed that the value of our client’s investment substantially exceeded the redemption received.

Given the hedge fund’s stance, our recommendation was to conduct in-depth due diligence into the manager and other investors similarly affected, obtain an independent valuation of the investment, understand enforceability of legal pathways, and evaluate the feasibility of settlement.

We provided a holistic view of the case and identified the optimal path to resolution, which included:

  1. A valuation of the investment confirming that our client’s investment was worth over 10x the redemption price it had been paid;
  2. Detailed intelligence on the hedge fund manager, including asset tracing, business relationships, other affected LPs and further investments which may have been based on a similar valuation;
  3. Legal opinions from top-tier litigation firms outlining options for various routes to recourse, resulting in retention of a former US Attorney;
  4. A network-based approach to offer an initial diplomatic settlement through legal and advisory professionals.

Our client was made an insufficient settlement offer, so opted to launch a class action in the Southern District of New York.

Emissary continues to advise on this matter.

Leverage analysis and advocacy for a UK family office involved with a Chinese aerospace corporation

Our client had agreed to sell one of its portfolio companies, a UK-based engineering firm, to a Chinese aerospace corporation which had gained access to substantial IP.

The buyer was delaying full payment under the Share Purchase Agreement blaming the holdup on a supposed delay in the approval process for Chinese Outbound Direct Investment (ODI).

As a result of the financial uncertainty on its future, the engineering firm was left in a precarious position and heading towards administration.

We assessed that although the buyer had not met its obligations, any claim under the agreement in the UK courts would not be enforceable against assets in China.

The UK government was concurrently weighing the decision to allow 5G market access to Huawei due to concerns about theft of intellectual property and asset stripping of UK companies.

The strongest leverage against the buyer was therefore to use the timing of the Huawei considerations to escalate the dispute from a private, bilateral commercial negotiation, to an ongoing public, multi-party conversation on UK and Chinese trade relations.

We identified the key stakeholders in the UK and China who might take interest in the case, including Chinese and British stakeholders in government, academia, business, and the press.

We built an advocacy team made up of former senior UK diplomats and business officials specialising in China, the chairman of the engineering company, and our client’s principal.

The advocacy team briefed the Chinese Ministry of Commerce who made internal inquiries and provided insight into the nature of the reported ODI issues.

The advocacy team also briefed relevant UK officials, including members of cabinet and parliamentary leaders, acting as a single point of co-ordination, and increasing speed of delivery.

We also prepared a communications strategy, resulting in a Sunday Times feature, followed by an in-depth report on Chinese asset stripping.

The case was used by members of UK cabinet as a live example of the risks and implications of allowing 5G market access to Huawei.

Our advocacy efforts paved the way for the UK Foreign Affairs Select Committee to open an inquiry into asset stripping of British companies by Chinese investors.

Leverage analysis for a major US family business regarding board-level holdout in investment takeover negotiations

Our client was a minority investor in a London-based financial technology venture which, despite positive long-term market prospects, was distressed and experiencing working capital issues.

Our client offered to inject new equity capital into the business in order to acquire a majority interest and extend its runway, which required unanimous approval from all board members.

However, one board member withholding approval of the plan sought to avoid dilution of his existing stake and insisted on repayment of over £500,000 of past advisory work provided to the company, threatening litigation.

With the company approaching insolvency, negotiations for takeover and recapitalisation of the company reached an impasse.

Our client sought strategic advice as to whether they were risking a major litigation with the holdout if they did not meet his demands.

Based on our client’s cap table, we assessed that the holdout was likely to be in a weak position, because his stance was adverse to the interests of both the company’s needs for recapitalisation and the majority shareholders.

We assessed that while the holdout may have had sympathy from the other board members for a lesser pay-out, he might have overplayed his hand by holding the company hostage to his demands.

So, we were most interested to learn whether the holdout would even have the financial capacity to sustain a litigation against our client and to inform a negotiating strategy to deal with his intransigence.

In parallel with the negotiation, we conducted a deep dive into the holdout’s background, assets, and business history, identifying that:

  1. The holdout had branded himself as a much larger private investor than his track record suggested;
  2. He had a history of investing in schemes with highly questionable tax practices;
  3. He was significantly outmatched in his ability to sustain a lawsuit by our client should the portfolio company become insolvent.

We recommended with high conviction that our client “call the bluff” of the holdout by standing firm on its existing offer to the board and management, and made clear to other influential shareholders that their responsibility to the company was to ensure that the transaction would proceed.

Within a week of insolvency, our client successfully acquired its sought majority shareholding providing the company with cash for its continued operations.

In the face of unilateral pressure from management and board, the holdout conceded his negotiating position, agreed to substantial dilution and received a fractional payment for past advisory services rendered.

Litigation funding landscape analysis and manager review for a UK charitable trust

Our client was considering litigation funding as a potential alternative investment class as a means to diversify assets away from US active equities.

Given our experience advising litigation funders, we were commissioned to evaluate the litigation funding market for potential investment targets.

We assessed that there were likely 10-15 litigation funders of institutional quality that the client should consider, supported by an understanding of growth and evolution of the litigation funding market at large.

We delivered a report that included a global macro overview of the market, an explanation of funding models, a comparison of the top 15 most institutional funders, and a proprietary ranking of funders, resulting in a shortlist of 5 top candidates.

We facilitated introductory meetings for the client with prospective investment managers, incorporating new learnings and client feedback into the report and rankings.

We submitted the review to our client's Investment Committee, incorporating feedback into our final report and recommendation to invest with the top candidate.

The client undertook a co-investment partnership arrangement with a leading litigation funder in the UK toward the end of 2019.

Media

We are called on frequently to comment on global geopolitical and disputes issues facing investors and maintain partnerships with leading academic institutions and media outlets.

“Our relationship with Emissary has been invaluable. They help us bring order to high-stakes situations with great creativity, analytical rigor and swift execution.”

Founder, UK private equity firm

Contact

Emissary Holdings Ltd
5 Albany Court Yard
London W1J 0HF

+44 (0) 7770 250003