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Michael Hilton


Corporate and M&A, Financing and capital markets

'sensible and pragmatic'; 'very personable' and 'a high level of experience'

Legal 500 2015 and 2016

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About Michael Hilton

Michael heads up the firm's Abu Dhabi office and specialises in private and public M&A, joint ventures, restructurings and equity capital markets work, much of which is cross-border.  In recent years he has advised on many of the major outbound investments from the region and been involved in most of the highest-profile transactions in Abu Dhabi.  

With 20 years of experience Michael's practice spans a number of sectors including financial services, telecoms, energy and natural resources. His clients include large government-owned institutions and corporates such as ADNOC, ENOC, DP World, Saudi Telecom Company and OSN, various financial institutions, a number of global financial investors and the region's most prominent sovereign wealth funds.

Much of the work Michael does crosses borders and a number of the deals he has worked on have been recognised by the legal industry's research and award bodies for their innovation and market impact.

Michael was previously based in the firm's London office, spending over a decade working on a variety of corporate matters, including some of the largest and most challenging M&A transactions.

Recent work

  • Advising International Petroleum Investment Company (IPIC) on its merger with Mubadala Development Company (MDC), creating the 14th largest state-owned investment fund globally with $125bn combined total assets and an entity with partnerships and businesses in 30+ countries.
  • Advising First Gulf Bank on its merger with National Bank of Abu Dhabi, creating the largest bank in the MENA region with $183bn of assets and a combined market capitalisation of approximately $30.9bn. Read more about the deal in our case study.
  • Advising Emirates National Oil Company on its circa $6bn acquisition and de-listing of Dragon Oil, a Dublin-listed upstream oil and gas company, with operations and assets in Iraq, Algeria, Egypt, Afghanistan and Tunisia.
  • Advising a consortium led by sovereign-backed Fajr Capital, with global investment and advisory firm Blackstone and Bahrain’s investment arm Mumtalakat as co-investors, on the acquisition of a minority stake in the leading regional education business GEMS Education. The deal was awarded M&A Deal of the Year at the IFLR Middle East Awards 2015.
  • Advising Warburg Pincus on its acquisition of Dubai-based specialist IT software, development and solutions business mercator from dnata, one of the world’s largest air services providers and a subsidiary of the Emirates group.
  • Advising Saudi Telecom Company on the $865m sale of PT Axis Telekom Indonesia to PT XL Axiata TBK. The deal was awarded M&A Deal of the Year at the Asian Legal Business Awards 2014.
  • Advising the Al Tayer Group on a healthcare platform joint venture company with Dubai Investments and Ashmore.
  • Advising Chinese e-commerce company and tech giant Alibaba on its inbound greenfield joint venture with the UAE’s Meraas Holding.
  • Advising EFG Hermes Capital Partners Management on its joint cash bid to acquire the entire share capital of Damas International, listed on Nasdaq Dubai (formerly the DIFX), only the third ever public M&A transaction involving a Nasdaq Dubai-listed company. The deal was awarded M&A Deal of the Year at the IFLR Middle East Awards 2012.
  • Advising HSBC Bank Middle East on: the disposal of its retail and commercial banking business in Jordan to Arab Jordan Investment Bank; the disposal of its retail and commercial banking business in Pakistan to Meezan Bank; and the acquisition of the UAE onshore retail and commercial banking business of Lloyds Banking Group.
  • Advising Xstrata on numerous corporate transactions, including its investment in the Zanaga iron ore venture in Congo Brazzaville, its proposed $80bn and $10bn takeovers of Anglo American and Lonmin, and its $6bn rights issue and related party acquisition of the Prodeco coal business.
  • Advising: a global financial business headquartered in the Middle East on a proposed IPO on Nasdaq Dubai and a possible secondary listing onshore in the UAE; Betfair Group on its £1.4bn IPO; UBS and Bridgewell on the £340m IPO of Dunelm Group; JP Morgan, UBS and Evolution on the cash box rights issue by Ashtead Group in connection with its acquisition of NationsRent; and Goldman Sachs and ABN AMRO Rothschild on the IPO of shares in Public Power Corporation.



  • Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, UK (MA Cantab, law)
  • Nottingham Law School, UK (diploma in legal practice)