Emissary Partners is a global advisory firm working with investors to achieve optimal outcomes from legacy assets, special situations, and complex disputes.

Emissary is a trusted advisor to family offices, asset managers, and institutional investors looking for greater clarity and control in realising value from investments with potentially contentious elements.

Our clients are top-tier institutions who take a high-ground approach to dealing with sometimes challenging counterparties or situations; often in unfamiliar and opaque legal and commercial environments.

As global growth in disputes outpaces GDP growth, Emissary believes that investors should be as analytically-driven and cost-benefit-conscious in managing contentious exits as they are in making new investments.

Our Model

Leading family offices and institutional investors typically have 2 to 5% of their assets under management vested in legacy assets, special situations, and/ or complex disputes. In such cases, visibility is often lacking, thereby making an exit more difficult to design and implement.

Of primary concern to investors holding such investments will be their ability to generate liquidity, their impact on the broader investment portfolio, and the safeguarding of the investor’s reputation. Exit from these investments may be achieved by way of a negotiated redemption, a secondary sale of interest, or the pursuit of a legal strategy to recover value.

In Emissary’s experience, informed decisions, at board or investment committee level, on the resolution of problem investments can benefit significantly from the comprehensive qualitative analysis of Emissary’s “Five Lenses” review, covering investigative, legal, financial, geopolitical, and reputational elements. Emissary’s Five Lenses assessments combine to provide the net present value (NPV) of an exit strategy, outlining the relevant risk factors and decision points.

Driven by strong core values and deep analysis, Emissary seeks to enable its clients to make proactive, informed decisions and to implement the best strategies for exiting contentious investments.

“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

Strategies for Contentious Investments

Potential or actual dispute risks manifest themselves and mature over the lifecycle of an investment. At each stage, the Emissary team evaluates risks through multiple lenses, developing both information and strategies to evaluate and 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

Global Visibility and Five Lenses Risk Analysis

Our Five Lenses analytical model allows us to distil the complex facets of a legacy asset or of a potential or actual dispute into an NPV-based economic and collateral analysis, assessing options and trade-offs for effective management of potentially contentious investments and optimum value recovery.

This service may be used by clients assessing their options for exiting legacy assets, negotiating an exit from a contentious investment, or pursuing a dispute resolution strategy.

The following are key questions falling under the Five Lenses:

Intelligence
What are the circumstances around the investment, including relevant contractual obligations, parties, sequences of events, and any identifiable shortcoming in the conduct of the business concerned? Are there additional factors that the client might not already appreciate that have given rise to a potential or actual contentious situation?

Legal
What dispute resolution mechanism is contained in the underlying agreements, and what are the statistical outcome probabilities associated with pursuing that course of action? Can the client’s legal counsel advise any additional and more effective options for legal recourse?

Financial
What is the client’s estimate of the value of the asset? How should a future recovery be discounted to the present? Could the client consider disputes financing, insurance or other forms of risk-hedging? Could the client exit its position through a secondary sale of interest?

Geopolitical
Have local power dynamics created the conditions for a dispute? Does the local economic context, or do local stakeholders, have any bearing on achieving optimum recovery? Which stakeholders will need to be informed of, or to approve any negotiated resolution?

Reputational
Would the client be comfortable if the dispute were public? How best can the situation be presented to safeguard the client’s reputation? How can the client leverage transparency for better resilience? More generally, what can be done to be proactive about the client’s reputation?

Our Five Lenses analytical model allows us to distil the complex facets of a legacy asset or of a potential or actual dispute into an NPV-based economic and collateral analysis, assessing options and trade-offs for effective management of potentially contentious investments and optimum value recovery.

This service may be used by clients assessing their options for exiting legacy assets, negotiating an exit from a contentious investment, or pursuing a dispute resolution strategy.

The following are key questions falling under the Five Lenses:

Intelligence
What are the circumstances around the investment, including relevant contractual obligations, parties, sequences of events, and any identifiable shortcoming in the conduct of the business concerned? Are there additional factors that the client might not already appreciate that have given rise to a potential or actual contentious situation?

Legal
What dispute resolution mechanism is contained in the underlying agreements, and what are the statistical outcome probabilities associated with pursuing that course of action? Can the client’s legal counsel advise any additional and more effective options for legal recourse?

Financial
What is the client’s estimate of the value of the asset? How should a future recovery be discounted to the present? Could the client consider disputes financing, insurance or other forms of risk-hedging? Could the client exit its position through a secondary sale of interest?

Geopolitical
Have local power dynamics created the conditions for a dispute? Does the local economic context, or do local stakeholders, have any bearing on achieving optimum recovery? Which stakeholders will need to be informed of, or to approve any negotiated resolution?

Reputational
Would the client be comfortable if the dispute were public? How best can the situation be presented to safeguard the client’s reputation? How can the client leverage transparency for better resilience? More generally, what can be done to be proactive about the client’s reputation?

2

Expected Value Analysis and Decision Support

We work with our clients, and their internal and external legal and financial advisors, to provide focused strategic analysis and support from the first indication of a potential dispute, right through to resolution, or at any stage in this process.

Once a dispute is underway, case management can be complex. Disputes present multivariable problems, from both legal and business perspectives, and there may be diverging views within a client organisation on the best course of action, which Emissary can work to reconcile. We aim to help our clients minimise both the economic and opportunity cost of all aspects of dispute management and to maximise the expected return on the resources deployed.

We work with our clients, and their internal and external legal and financial advisors, to provide focused strategic analysis and support from the first indication of a potential dispute, right through to resolution, or at any stage in this process.

Once a dispute is underway, case management can be complex. Disputes present multivariable problems, from both legal and business perspectives, and there may be diverging views within a client organisation on the best course of action, which Emissary can work to reconcile. We aim to help our clients minimise both the economic and opportunity cost of all aspects of dispute management and to maximise the expected return on the resources deployed.

3

Exit Strategy Implementation

The most advantageous settlements and exits from contentious investments are driven by the development of multiple options and pathways and the adoption of the most effective of these. For Emissary’s clients, these options typically include a negotiated redemption, a secondary sale of interest, and the pursuit of a legal strategy to recover value. Emissary helps its clients to explore and negotiate these options and, where appropriate, to engage in commercial diplomacy with adverse parties and stakeholders in the financial and legal sectors.

Emissary is not a law firm and does not provide legal advice, nor does the work we undertake for our clients constitute accounting, financial, investment, or tax advice.

The most advantageous settlements and exits from contentious investments are driven by the development of multiple options and pathways and the adoption of the most effective of these. For Emissary’s clients, these options typically include a negotiated redemption, a secondary sale of interest, and the pursuit of a legal strategy to recover value. Emissary helps its clients to explore and negotiate these options and, where appropriate, to engage in commercial diplomacy with adverse parties and stakeholders in the financial and legal sectors.

Emissary is not a law firm and does not provide legal advice, nor does the work we undertake for our clients constitute accounting, financial, investment, or tax advice.

Team

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

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

Matthew L. McGrath

Founder and Managing Director

Adrian Winstanley OBE

Senior Advisor

J. Peter Donald

Senior Advisor

Dr. Simon King

Senior Advisor

Tyler Godoff

Senior Advisor

Harriet Okwi

Senior Advisor

Peter Norton

VP, Operations, Chief of Staff

Tanya Lansky

Associate

Jack Hillan

Senior 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.

Full bio here

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.

Tyler Godoff
Senior Advisor

Tyler Godoff is a Senior Advisor to Emissary and general partner of Emerging Founder, which specialises in backing first-time founders and fund managers.

Prior to founding Emerging Founder, Tyler was a vice president at the Fine Line Group, a single-family office within the Bass Companies. At the Fine Line Group, Tyler managed direct and fund venture investments and an early-stage fund that backed founders and ventures with a meaningful connection to Fort Worth.

Earlier in his career, Tyler was a member of the Innovation Strategy group at Barrick, the world’s leading gold mining company. At Barrick, Tyler worked with the chief innovation officer to build partnerships with leading tech companies and early-stage ventures to scale Barrick’s innovation strategy.

In addition, Tyler was part of the team that managed Barrick’s joint-venture relationship with the Shandong Gold Group. Prior to Barrick, Tyler worked on business strategy and product management at two-early stage ventures in Boston and San Francisco. Upon graduating university, Tyler joined Sinotrans in Beijing as the first foreign new-hire in the company’s 60 year history.

Currently, Tyler is a term member of the Council on Foreign Relations and a mentor for Venture for America. He holds a B.S. in Human and Organizational Development from Vanderbilt University and an MBA from Yale University.

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
VP, Operations, Chief of Staff

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
Senior Analyst

Jack Hillan serves as an Senior 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 2018, we have built 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.

Decision analysis and settlement support for an EPC consortium

Our client, a consortium of leading infrastructure developers, was considering options to launch an arbitration following a breach of contract by a department of a sovereign government.

Ahead of settlement discussions with government representatives, the client sought guidance on its expected financial outcomes in arbitration and at what price it should consider settling the dispute.

We assessed that the consortium should seek to settle the dispute at or above the expected NPV of arbitration, so should therefore conduct a sensitivity analysis of the possible financial outcomes of an arbitration and enforcement.

We generated a comprehensive financial model that took into account all the possible scenarios and risk factors of the adjudication, appeals, and enforcement processes.

Emissary established that the weighted NPV for the client was 6.4% of the headline claim value. This illuminated the sovereign’s leverage in negotiations and promoted the idea of an early settlement.

Investment due diligence and decision support for a $5bn US alternative asset manager

Our client was assessing a litigation funding opportunity to support a legal action against a counterparty with a set of global financial interests that had largely been structured for obscurity.

The claim concerned a shareholder dispute relating to a US business where the shareholders were global in their citizenship and activities.

With an investment decision deadline one month away, our client’s investment committee wanted comfort regarding whether a UK judgement would be enforceable both in terms of quantum and jurisdiction of assets.

Counsel also sought an assessment of the ultimate beneficial ownership of the asset in dispute, as the counterparty’s actual level of ownership would affect how the case should be plead.

We assessed that, because of the asset obfuscation efforts taken by the counterparty, our client would never gain 100% visibility into the counterparty’s global asset position within the required timeframe.

Our analysis would therefore need to be rendered on a portfolio “expected value” basis, assessing value of illiquid assets and discounting identified assets based on confidence in ownership and jurisdictional enforcement risks.

This headline figure would provide a clearer underwriting basis for the claim.

We put together a project “sprint” that included three methods of intelligence in short succession.

We traced the counterparty’s ownership structure of the asset in dispute across 20+ entities in 10 jurisdictions.

We ran a financial sensitivity analysis on real estate assets to estimate current valuations and levels of mortgage.

Our findings included confirmation of a majority control of the asset in dispute as well as sufficient enforceable hard assets on an expected and discounted basis.

Our client’s investment committee approved the investment unanimously.

The claimholder agreed on pricing aligned to the expectations of enforcement.

Media

We are frequently called on to comment on global risk and disputes issues facing investors and we 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 Partners
Emissary Holdings Ltd
5 Albany Courtyard
London W1J 0HF


If you are interested to join our team, please get in touch via careers@emissarypartners.com