Ahmed el-Gaili, Co-Chair of the Middle East Corporate Department, leads the corporate M&A practice in the Riyadh office of Latham & Watkins, and represents clients on the full spectrum of Saudi and global transactions.

Mr. el-Gaili leverages his keen commercial acumen and extensive experience across legal disciplines to guide sovereign wealth funds, companies, and private equity firms on complex cross-border:

  • Mergers and acquisitions
  • Private equity
  • Joint ventures
  • Large-scale energy projects and energy legislation
  • Project finance and development
  • International dispute resolution

He partners with clients on each transaction to efficiently navigate business challenges, craft commercial advice, and mitigate against potential risk.

A recognized leader, he serves on the Pro Bono Committee and previously served on the Technology Committee and the Training & Career Enhancement (TACE) Committee. He has also served on the Alumni Board of Dhahran Ahliyya Schools and as President of the Harvard Arab Alumni Association.

Mr. el-Gaili’s experience** includes advising: 

M&A/Private Equity

  • A significant number of confidential and ongoing M&A/PE deals with a total value of up to SAR20 billion
  • Lifera in connection with its investment and related joint venture with Centogene, a leading genomics lab services provider
  • LyondellBasell in connection with the purchase of shares in National Petrochemical Industrial Company (NATPET)
  • Faden Advertising Agency Company on selling shares to Arabian Contracting Services Company
  • Public Investment Fund (PIF) on acquiring a number of mobile towers (and associated infrastructure) from Zain and associated mobile tower JV and on its joint venture with Saudi Telecom Company (STC), , to create an Internet of Things (IoT) solutions company
  • Jadwa Investment, a leading investment management and advisory firm in the Middle East, on acquiring a majority stake in Dabdoob Holdings, an e-commerce company in Kuwait
  • Dr. Sulaiman Al-Habib Medical Group on acquiring a 25% stake in Tamkeen Human Resources Company
  • A bidder in a contemplated auction sale process for a group of dental companies (discontinued)
  • Lifera on multiple global investments and Saudi joint ventures in the pharma sector
  • ADNOC on the potential sale of a stake in one of its affiliates*
  • ADNOC Drilling on multiple jack-up rig purchases, with cumulative value exceeding US$300 million*
  • The Government of Jordan on the potential acquisition of an IPP operator in Jordan*
  • Joulon Services DMCC, a KKR affiliate, on acquiring OES Equipment Limited, an oil and gas inspection company, and EM Global, an instrumentation and automation provider*
  • UAE-based Aurora and a SOCAR affiliate on selling SOCAR Aurora Terminals (the owner of a large oil storage terminal in the UAE) to a private equity buyer*
  • An oil field service company in the UAE and its US private equity owners on the company’s potential sale*
  • A leading US private equity firm on a potential public tender offer for shares of an Iraqi bank*
  • A leading US private equity firm on the potential acquisition of a stake in an oil field service company in Iraq*
  • Mubadala Petroleum on selling its stake in an oil field service company in the UAE*
  • A confidential client on its proposed acquisition of an upstream interest in Afghanistan and the related JOA negotiations*
  • Saudi Aramco on a confidential global joint venture*
  • Saudi-based Arabian Consulting Engineering Centre on a potential joint venture with Bechtel to provide engineering services in Saudi Arabia*
  • Saudi-based Zuhair Fayez Partnership on a joint venture with SNC Lavalin to create one of the largest oil and gas and petrochemical engineering and EPCM services companies in the Middle East*
  • A Saudi investor on forming a joint venture and negotiating a shareholders’ agreement relating to construction support services in Saudi Arabia*
  • The Republic of Iraq Ministry of Oil’s (MOO’s) oil trading arm on:
    • Oil trading joint ventures with Lukoil*
    • A potential international trading joint venture with a Chinese company*
  • Kuwait Drilling on a potential joint venture with Schlumberger*
  • Helios Towers on acquiring an independent tower company in Oman*
  • VimpelCom on the potential sale and leaseback of telecom towers in Pakistan*
  • Etisalat on the:
    • Potential establishment of an independent tower operating company to own and manage its own and third-party telecom towers in eight African countries, including the sale and lease back arrangements of such telecom towers*
    • Potential sale of one of its East African operating companies*
  • Ahmad Hamad Al Gossaibi & Bros (AHAB) on Saudi Arabia’s largest restructuring and settlement negotiations with creditors*
  • AT&T on restructuring a US joint venture with Qtel*
  • Barclays on the US$4.4 billion sale of iShares to CVC*
  • Akzo Nobel on the €11 billion sale of its pharmaceuticals business to Schering-Plough*
  • A major Egyptian financial institution on a multibillion-dollar local and cross-border merger*
  • A major French company on an unsolicited tender offer for a foreign company listed on multiple international exchanges*
  • Barclays on its aborted €67 billion acquisition of ABN AMRO*
  • Silver Lake on:
    • Consortium arrangements in connection with the €3.6 billion purchase of NXP*
    • Its bid for a US financial services support company*
  • AT&T on a bid for wireless spectrum in Qatar and related joint venture arrangements*
  • Goldman Sachs on its strategic cooperation arrangements with, and equity investment in, NCB Capital, the investment banking subsidiary of the National Commercial Bank of Saudi Arabia*

Project Development & Finance

  • A US investor on a potential gas project in Saudi Arabia (ongoing)
  • A US investor on a potential petrochemical project in Saudi Arabia (ongoing)
  • Halfaya Gas Company on the concession agreement with the South Gas Company (wholly-owned by the Iraq Ministry of Oil) to develop midstream gas processing facilities at the Bin Umar Gas Field in Iraq
  • ADNOC on amending a hospital operating agreement*
  • Saudi Aramco on project financing of the Port Arthur LNG terminal*
  • Saudi-based bulk chemical storage operator Arabian Chemical Terminals (ACT) on its entry into strategic agreements with Abu Dhabi Ports, the master developer of ports and industrial zones in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, UAE*
  • MOO on:
    • The multibillion-dollar development of the Ar-Ratawi Gas Project to be developed by Total*
    • A potential project financing of an NGL plant at the Basrah Gas Project*
    • The multibillion-dollar development of the 1,000-kilometer Iraq-Jordan Export Pipeline Project, which will be developed on a BOOT basis, including leading the negotiation of the intergovernmental agreement, the BOOT contract, crude and gas offtake agreements, and project finance bankability considerations*
    • The unitization of border fields with Kuwait*
    • Drafting a refinery concession agreement for bidding out multiple refinery projects and related negotiations with bidders*
    • A potential project financing of an NGL plant at the Basrah Gas Project*
    • The US$17 billion Basrah Gas Project to capture flared gas and process it for both domestic power generation and LNG export, involving a 25-year development joint venture agreement with Royal Dutch Shell plc and Mitsubishi*
    • The multibillion-dollar development of the Ar-Ratawi Gas Project to be developed by Total*
  • A major Iraqi private company on developing and financing a power project in southern Iraq*
  • Kuwait Drilling on:
    • A rig lease contract in Libya*
    • The lease and potential purchase of a drilling rig from a Chinese buyer*
  • Sadara on various product supply agreements*
  • China Petrochemical Corporation (Sinopec) on project finance and sponsor financing documentation matters in connection with its joint venture with Saudi Aramco to develop the US$10 billion Yanbu Refinery on the west coast of Saudi Arabia*
  • A leading IOC and the oil and gas arm of a regional sovereign wealth fund on various contracts (including the Development and Production Sharing Agreement, Joint Operating Agreement and the Shareholder’s Agreement) entered into with a GCC government in relation to an upstream development project*
  • Sponsors in relation to financing a petrochemical project in Saudi Arabia, with the proposed financing consisting of funding from Saudi banks on a Shari’ah-compliant basis and SIDF*
  • A US solar company on formation requirements in Saudi Arabia and the Saudi electricity legal framework*
  • King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy on establishing a legal and regulatory framework for a renewable and civil atomic energy sector in Saudi Arabia*
  • Saudi Aramco and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on establishing a legal and regulatory framework for energy efficiency*
  • The lenders on a US$4.1 billion refinancing of the Dolphin integrated natural gas project in Qatar and the UAE. Previously advised Occidental in connection with original bank and Islamic bridge financing (Infrastructure Journal 2009 Oil & Gas Deal of the Year)*
  • Yemen LNG and its sponsors on US$2.8 billion financing for the natural gas pipeline and liquefaction project in Yemen. Largest financing and foreign direct investment in history of Yemen (Infrastructure Journal 2008 “Global Deal of the Year”; PFI 2008 “Middle East Oil & Gas Deal of the Year”). Role included extensive negotiations with ECAs and Yemeni Government, membership in a ministerial committee and making presentations in Arabic to Yemeni Cabinet*
  • Tengizchevroil (TCO) and its sponsors on a US$4.4 billion financing to expand the largest oilfield in Kazakhstan, as well as advising on a potential multibillion-dollar financing of a further expansion*
  • Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan and its sponsors on a US$3.6 billion financing for its trans-border (Azerbaijan-Georgia-Turkey) oil pipeline project, which was awarded deal of the year by PFI, Infrastructure Journal, Project Finance, and IFLR*
  • TCO on a propane sale agreement with Kazakhstan Petrochemical Industries*
  • TOTAL on financing and commercial implications of proposed changes to an African country’s petroleum laws*
  • Exxon on structuring and financing a cross-border gas pipeline in Asia*
  • Various sponsors on bankability and other commercial issues relating to LNG sale contracts*

Dispute Resolution

  • The Government of Jordan and the National Electric Power Company in connection with a high-profile dispute and arbitration with an IPP operator, including presenting in Arabic to a committee led by the Prime Minister on multiple occasions*
  • MOO in connection with:
    • A high-profile arbitration against Turkey relating to the breach of an oil pipeline treaty (subsequently awarded in favor of MOO)*
    • A constitutional dispute with the Kurdistan Regional Government before the Federal Supreme Court relating to oil exports, including drafting and revising multiple submissions in Arabic (subsequently decided in favor of MOO)*
    • A contractual dispute and arbitration with a marine salvage contractor*
    • A contractual dispute and arbitration with a UXO clearance contractor*
    • Commercial resolution of disputes and project restart strategies for a project involving the reconstruction of an oil export terminal*
    • Successful UAE court proceedings to release an oil tanker seized in connection with a contractual dispute*
    • Various corruption investigations*
  • A Saudi private company in a dispute with its Korean JV partner*
  • A Yemeni power company in a claim against a Delaware LLC and Maltese power company in a dispute arising out of the purchase and fabrication of custom-built heavy fuel oil generators*

Conference Speaker

  • “Project Finance: Exploring Private Funding Sources in the Light of Iraq’s Reconstruction Donors Countries Conference,” Iraq Petroleum 2018, February 28, 2018
  • “Iraq Petroleum Conference 2017,” May 22-23, 2017

Thought Leadership

  • “Unveiling Arab Constitutions: Against Religious Enshrinement in Iraq and Sudan,” “Sudan’s Peace Agreement: A legal Critique” 
  • Various op-eds. Under publication: “The Constitutional Relationship between Religion & State in Sudan: Positive Neutrality as an Alternative” — articles on the 2005 Sudanese constitution
  • Federalism & the Tyranny of Religious Majorities, 45 Harvard International Law Journal, 2004. Paper was required reading for a course at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government for three years

*Matter handled prior to joining Latham

**Firm experience prior to April 2023 includes work completed both at Latham and the Law Firm of Salman M. Al-Sudairi.

Bar Qualification

  • New York
  • Saudi Arabia (Foreign Consultant)

Education

  • J.D., Harvard Law School, 2003
    cum laude
  • AB, Harvard College, 1998
    magna cum laude

Languages Spoken

  • Arabic
  • English