John Davidson – GC Powerlist
Middle East 2019

John Davidson

General counsel | Nakheel

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    Middle East 2019

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    John Davidson

    General counsel | Nakheel

    John Davidson - Middle East 2017

    General counsel | Nakheel

    John Davidson moved to Dubai in 2006, after gaining five years of private practice experience at Osler, one of Canada’s largest law firms. Davidson worked as an in-house lawyer at...

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    John Davidson’s move to Dubai in 2006 was preceded by a successful period in private practice with Osler in Canada, which provided a key grounding in corporate legal work that served him well when he joined Nakheel in 2008: ‘My work initially at Nakheel was a mix of acquisitions, joint ventures and licensing, as well as retail sector focused development and asset management work servicing Nakheel’s shopping malls and retail operations business’, he explains; his excellent performance in this chapter of his career led to him being made general counsel only three years later. He has a large number of projects to look back on as particular highlights. In particular, Davidson mentions ‘successfully completing Nakheel’s US$16bn restructuring in 2011 and steering it through the weight of litigation that followed this’ as particularly key: ‘It was an important transaction on many levels because of the innovative approach to different issues — it was the first time a Sukuk (Islamic Bond) had been utilised for the settlement of trade creditor debt – and because of the critical importance of the successful completion of the restructuring to the Dubai economy overall. After the restructuring was closed, we had to gear up quickly to address the litigation we faced since the company’s future financial viability would have been at risk had significant losses in these cases occurred. In particular, we were very successful in defending numerous unfounded claims by purchasers in the company’s The World islands project’. As well as this, Davidson has enjoyed supporting the company’s rapid growth in the hospitality sector. ‘In the last three years’, he explains, ‘Nakheel has rapidly become one of the largest hotel developers and owners in the region, with a number of iconic projects under development. From a legal perspective, it has been a highlight to have developed considerable expertise in the hospitality sector in negotiating management agreements with many of the world’s leading hotel operators’.

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    John Davidson

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