Max Abbott is an Associate Managing Director and leads Nardello & Co.’s Political Risk Strategic Intelligence practice for the Asia-Pacific region. Based in Asia for the past decade, he also plays a key role in the firm’s litigation & arbitration support, criminal defense, and anti-corruption due diligence investigations.
A lawyer by training, Max has a background in international law, development, and government relations. He has conducted complex investigations in over a dozen jurisdictions across APAC, working collaboratively with global and regional law firms, multinational corporations, financial institutions and intergovernmental organizations. Max has developed particular expertise helping clients navigate the political risks associated with permitting and licensing, forming joint ventures with local partners, and identifying hidden government interests in private corporations
- Max led a team of analysts to perform a policy terrain assessment and stakeholder mapping exercise of politicians, regulators, and local businesses in the Korean ride hailing industry on behalf of a global technology firm. The project involved interviews with numerous Korean government officials, trade association representatives, business executives, and diplomats. Investigations revealed a hypercompetitive marketplace that was also fraught with regulatory uncertainty. Before proceeding with entry into the Korean ride hailing market, the client requested additional assistance with a due diligence assessment of a potential local partner to help mitigate the attendant political risks.
- Max advised a European investment bank on forming a partnership with a state-owned Islamic bank in Brunei. While the investment bank wanted to understand the nuances of Islamic finance in Brunei, it was also concerned about the country’s wider political economy. Consultations with banking executives and financial sector experts based in Brunei, Malaysia, and Indonesia provided the client with an understanding of Islamic finance, with a particular focus on anti-corruption and compliance protocols. The investigation also provided an assessment of expropriation risks facing the private sector partners of Bruneian state-owned enterprises.
- In a multi-stage complex investigation, Max assisted an infrastructure asset manager seeking to acquire a stake in a fast-growing Vietnamese renewable energy company. In addition to providing a comprehensive integrity due diligence on the renewable energy company and its key principals, Max performed a political risk assessment of the investment opportunity. The assessment began with a policy landscape assessment of the regulations governing the Vietnamese solar and wind power industries and profiling the officials in the Ministry of Planning and Investment, public utility Electricity Vietnam and other relevant agencies. This analysis helped the client prepare for the upcoming National Congress of the Communist Party of Vietnam which had the potential to undermine opportunities for foreign investors.
- Max served as a long-term counselor to a Southeast Asian renewable energy company navigating the political challenges of developing hydropower facilities in Indonesia. He advised the company on complex licensing and permitting procedures laid out by the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources and the National Electric Company. This included identifying the appropriate political allies to help overcome overlapping regulations and bureaucratic red tape. Max also performed opposition research on firms competing for the same hydropower concessions and the suitability of potential customers for the Southeast Asian firm’s power supply.
JUST THE FACTS
- JD, International & Comparative Law, Columbia Law School
- BA, Political Science & Philosophy, George Washington University
- Indonesian (fluent)
- Malay (conversant)
- Spanish (conversant)
- French (beginner)
- New York State Bar Association
- Strategic Human Rights Litigation, Central European University
- How are Thailand’s Youth Protests Impacting Foreign Direct Investment?, The Diplomat, March 9, 2021