IJGlobal Awards 2020 – MENA Judging Team

It is an annual source of pride for this title that we host peer-review awards, gathering a team of independent industry experts to weigh up submissions and (secretly) select winners for the coveted IJGlobal Awards 2020.

With submissions building up nicely for the 4 regional awards – portal open until 12 March (access it here) – we are delighted to announce the MENA judging team for IJGlobal Awards 2020.

As always, we have gathered a line-up of judges who have deep experience across the full range of infrastructure and energy activity across the MENA region – industry professionals with a finger on the pulse.

It should be noted that, as with all of our regional Judgment Day sessions, judges are recused from categories in which they are active so as not to influence voting where they have a vested interest.

We will meet (virtually) after the submissions have been processed to discuss submissions and vote on the merits of individual organisations.

The judges (in order they sent across biographies) are:

  • Suresh Bhaskar – Engie
  • Maarten Wolfs – PwC
  • Abbas Husain – Standard Chartered Bank
  • Laughlan Waterston – SMBC
  • Yusuf Macun – Cranmore Partners
  • Catherine Workman – Pinsent Masons
  • Christopher Cantelmi – IFC
  • Adel Elsohl – Natixis
  • Matt Keats – Linklaters
  • Sami Neffati – Aberdeen Standard Investments Investcorp
  • Shaun Johnson – Miahona
  • Dan Taylor – National Development Fund

The other judging teams for the regional judging of IJGlobal Awards 2020 have already been published:


Biographies for the MENA team

Suresh Bhaskar – Engie

Suresh is executive VP and chief business development officer for Engie in the newly formed Middle East, South and Central Asia, Turkey, Africa (MESCATA) region. His core skills are in strategy, project development, financial analysis, equity/debt structuring and financial closing in relation to acquisitions, green field, and brown field opportunities.

Before joining Engie, Suresh worked with US utility AES as part of its Indian BD team, and prior to that with Indian power companies like Reliance Power and GMR Energy.

Maarten Wolfs – PwC

Based in Dubai since 2011, Maarten leads the region’s capital projects and infrastructure practice focusing on privatisation and government fiscal efficiency transformation engagements.

Maarten’s career at PwC has spanned three continents during which time he has advised on more than $100 billion of CAPEX consulting engagements in over 15 countries in Europe, Middle East and Oceania.

He has also specialized in large scale financings and procurements of “mega projects” across a range of industry sectors (energy, utilities, transport, real estate and social infra) acting for the private sector and for government agencies and ministries.

As a former investment banker Maarten brings experience of debt and capital markets structuring in combination with consulting and strategic advice.

Abbas Husain – Standard Chartered Bank

Abbas is the Standard Chartered Bank regional head of project and export finance EMEA & Pakistan and head corporate finance for Africa, Middle East & Pakistan based out of Dubai.

He has worked in finance for more than 20 years and has deep experience in credit analysis, structuring and documentation. Before joining SCB, he worked for Citibank managing a portfolio of MNCs and local corporates. Prior to that, Abbas worked at Bank of America where he managed a diversified portfolio.

Abbas has significant experience in the power sector. At Bank of America Pakistan, he was responsible for leading nine of the largest funded/non-funded syndications for Pakistan's Water and Power Development Authority. Abbas also worked extensively on the debt arrangement for Kot Addu Power Company, Pakistan.

He has worked on deals as diverse as Egyptian LNG, Shuaibah IWPP, Qatar Steel, Fatima Fertilizers, Taweelah A-1 and Suez Gulf IPP. Abbas has also worked on arranging debt in the US, including that for Duke Energy and Mirant Corporation.

Laughlan Waterston – SMBC

Laughlan is head of corporate and project finance at SMBC’s Middle East department based in Dubai, having switched roles with Tom Waterhouse in the summer of 2020. He has 25 years’ experience in banking with more than 20 of those in project and structured finance. 

He has experience on a wide variety of projects and corporates in the energy and infrastructure sectors including power, renewable energy and oil and gas, petrochemicals, waste to energy, wastewater, utilities, social infrastructure and transportation.

Laughlan’s roles and product areas include financial advisory, structured finance, corporate finance, acquisition finance, green/sustainable finance, debt capital markets, derivatives products and LP investment.

Yusuf Macun – Cranmore Partners

Yusuf has around 25 years’ experience in energy and infrastructure financing and investments, and has held leadership roles on the buy-side and sell-side of the energy and infrastructure sectors (as sponsor, adviser or lender) in Europe, Middle East and Africa. He has closed more than 30 transactions, representing around $20 billion, across frontier, emerging and developed markets.

Yusuf created Cranmore in 2015 as a boutique advisory firm in the project advisory space in the wider Middle East and Africa region.

Prior to this, Yusuf was global head of project and commercial finance at Abu Dhabi National Energy Company (TAQA), where he led transactions in the bank, debt and equity capital markets in MENA.

More recently, Yusuf has been advising governments on competitive project procurement, sponsors on equity and debt raising, project development / bidding and divestments in the power and renewables sectors, among others in Sub-Saharan Africa, GCC, broader Middle East, and Central Asia.

Prior to that, Yusuf spent 8 years at HSBC in London, in the project and export finance team. In 2002-05, Yusuf was an investment adviser at the Emerging Africa Infrastructure Fund (EAIF), and earlier he held positions at Lazard, Flemings and Rolls-Royce Power Ventures.

Catherine Workman – Pinsent Masons

Catherine is a partner and head of the Middle East region for Pinsent Masons. In addition she is the board sponsor for the law firm’s business in Saudi Arabia, while also serving as a board member of the British Aviation Group.

Catherine is a projects lawyer specialising in PPP projects across a range of sectors particularly airports, ports and waste management. She has worked on projects across Europe (including Croatia, Cyprus, Greece and Poland), Africa (including South Africa, Nigeria and Ghana) and the Middle East (UAE, Saudi, Kuwait and Oman).

She has been delivering PPP projects for more than 25 years including the first hospital PPP to achieve financial close in 1997. 

Christopher Cantelmi – IFC

Chris is a principal investment officer for the IFC infrastructure and natural resources department based in Dubai, where he is responsible for origination and execution of debt and equity investments in the power, water, energy & other essential infrastructure sectors throughout the MENA region. 

He led IFC’s efforts to support renewable energy programmes in Jordan and Egypt, while creating and structuring complementary low transaction cost, standardised limited recourse project financing programmes to support the many renewable developers participating.

Prior to joining the IFC in 2013, Chris served at the Mubadala - GE Capital (MGEC) joint venture for 3 years in Abu Dhabi as a director and head of energy and project finance, as well as a member of the MGEC senior leadership team.

Prior to MGEC, Chris built his name in the EMENA region over 11 years in London as VP and head of PF for Marubeni Corporation's power development arm. Before Marubeni, Chris was a PF bankerat SMBC, responsible for leading project finance advisory, origination and execution in the MENA region; in NYC for Citibank; and in Washington, DC for OPIC.

Adel Elsohl – Natixis

Adel is the Dubai-based managing director and co-head investment banking, coverage, and infrastructure energy finance at Natixis – responsible for the Middle East, Turkey and Africa.

He more than 20 years of experience in banking, including 9 years with RBS’ infrastructure finance group in London covering advisory, lending and equity.

Adel worked across numerous sectors in the infrastructure sector including power, renewables, oil and gas, telecoms, water, waste, and social infrastructure as well as accommodation in META, delivering delivered fixed rate solutions from institutional investors.

Adel has also advised public and private sector clients on transactions across Europe and in the UK.

He has been based in the Middle East, covering the region since the summer of 2010.

Matt Keats – Linklaters

Matt is head of Linklaters’ Middle East energy and infrastructure practice and has been with Linklaters for more than 25 years.

His practise focuses advising investors, developers, contractors and funders on the development, acquisition/disposal and financing of energy and infrastructure projects around the world.

Matt’s experience spans the oil and gas, power and infrastructure sectors with a particular focus on “first in market” transactions.

He has spent most of his career based in London, but ran the Linklaters energy and infrastructure practice in Moscow from 2010 to 2015, relocating to the Middle East in 2020.

Sami Neffati – Aberdeen Standard Investments Investcorp

Sami is managing partner of the Aberdeen Standard Investments Investcorp joint venture focusing on infrastructure in the GCC and MENA region.

He previously held the position of Assistant General Manager of Energy at Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation in London.

Sami is an Emerging Markets specialist with long experience in the MENAT region. He headed Sumitomo’s business development for Africa and led teams working on financing projects in renewable, power generation, transmission and distribution. He also worked as an advisor on projects in the MENAT region and to Japanese conglomerates on African markets penetration strategy. Sami focused on Energy transition in Europe and worked on acquisitions of infrastructure assets in Western Europe and the Nordics.

Shaun Johnson – Miahona

Shaun has more than 22 years’ experience in infrastructure, working for both the public and private sectors across Australia, the UK & Europe and now the Middle East. He started his career in private practice at Ashurst and then Freshfields, and has spent the last 16 years in-house holding down positions within sponsor/equity groups. He has closed deals in several sectors spanning water, waste, aviation, industrial gases, health and education.

Since 2016, Shaun has been living in the Middle East, initially working at Vision Invest (formerly ACWA Holding) and now as vice president and board secretary at Miahona (a Vision Invest subsidiary focused on utilities in the GCC). Shaun is also Chairman of IPFA Middle East and sits as a non-executive director on IPFA's global board.

Dan Taylor – National Development Fund

Dan is currently an adviser to the National Development Fund of Saudi Arabia on a strategic infrastructure financing initiative.

He started his career in leveraged and acquisition finance in Australia in 2000, continuing with UBS and Goldman Sachs in M&A advisory with a focus on the industrials, building materials and services sectors. 

In 2008, he moved to the Gulf where he was head of investment for a UAE sovereign direct investment entity and then CIO for a large, diversified family group.

Dan recently served as head of structured finance at Al Rajhi Bank in KSA, leading the greenfield financing of a series of water, renewables and industrial projects.