Mintz Group expands in Asia

Mintz announced the acquisition of Barber Mullan & Associates (BM&A) on 6 September and said the move would increase its investigative capabilities in several countries, including the Philippines, Indonesia, and Malaysia, as well as a number of other emerging markets.

BM&A, a risk management firm founded in 2012, has offices in Kuala Lumpur and Singapore and provides research and investigations support to companies wishing to enter Southeast Asian markets. The combined company will employ more than450 investigators in 18 locations worldwide. Its co-founder Jack Mullan will join Mintz Group as part of the acquisition.

The firm said in a press release that its acquisition of BM&A was driven by increased demand from western companies for investigative work in the region. Randall Phillips, Mintz Group’s managing partner for Asia, told GIR that supply-chain due diligence and pre-deal checks make up much of the new demand: “It could be private equity firms, multinational companies or laws firms coming to us on behalf of their clients to want to do pre-deal and compliance checks along the way. They want to make sure they understand what is going on in a particular market, and what kind of road bumps they can expect”.

Phillips, a former chief China representative for the CIA, said Western companies are more attracted to Southeast Asian countries nowadays because of China’s unstable relations with the US and its zero-covid policies. “China is certainly a very important market, but [western companies] don’t want to be dependent on the country, so they’re looking for options for some of their industrial capacity. This desire for jurisdictions where you can feel a little more comfortable that you're not going to be dependent on the standing regime has led to a trend that we don’t see letting up anytime soon”.

Phillips added that Mintz Group and BM&A’s working relationship was established over a decade ago, and said that the close working relationship and BM&A’s specialized knowledge and skills in navigating in Southeast Asia made the acquisition an attractive prospect.

He added that the acquisition was also influenced by the firm’s realization that it had not adequately tapped into the SoutheastAsian markets yet: “Frankly, we’ve underinvested in Southeast Asia over the years. We initially went into Hong Kong and Beijingback in 2011, but it was never the primary emphasis for the company. Then we opened in Singapore in 2017, which certainly helped. We started working the region a little bit harder but it wasn't until pursuing this particular acquisition that it became part of our strategy”.

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