Oil and gas: The power of transatlantic business networks

Guest Article by Rod Hutchison, Ledingham Chalmers

Transatlantic relationships are sought after in 2015, as UK companies look stateside to the land of opportunity and US enterprises view the British Isles as a hub to expand into Europe, Africa and the Middle-east.

Something special happens at OTC Houston when a group of oil and gas industry professionals are afforded the luxury of time. These normally hard-pressed individuals fly in from Europe, the Americas, the Middle-east, Asia Pacific and Africa to be at this annual showcase of technological ingenuity.

Business professionals have the space in their diaries to mingle and meander. It is an important time of year, and the one where they can make new connections to help sustain and grow the success of their companies throughout 2015. Business breakfasts, evening soirées, a quiet drink in the hotel bar or a round of golf in the sunshine present opportunities to get to know peers.

There are long-established links between the US and the UK. These two English speaking nations have clashed and collaborated over the centuries. Transatlantic relationships are sought after in 2015, as UK companies look stateside to the land of opportunity and US enterprises view the British Isles as a hub to expand into close-knit Europe, Africa and the Middle-east.

Rod Hutchison, corporate partner at law firm Ledingham Chalmers believes in the power of networking and vital face to face time. He said: “It always seems like a coincidence when you meet somebody from your hometown abroad. There is an instant congeniality that makes the experience pleasurable in different surroundings. Of course, having hundreds of Aberdeen based people in Houston at this time of year does provide the opportunity and time to discuss business matters on a more informal basis than back home. More meaningful bonds can be achieved over a meal in the Galleria or a round on the Tour 18 golf course than in a day long flurry of emails while chained to a desk back home.

“It is the perfect environment to come up with exciting contacts and the opportunity to forge new connections is valuable. We have met dozens of pioneering, ambitious people at the show. Many run strong small to medium enterprises that are calling on a helping hand to propel them to the next stage in their growth trajectory. The cultural, logistical and legislative challenges to overcome the Atlantic gap must be carefully negotiated.

“There should be no surprises that companies within oil and gas often have both a Houston office and an Aberdeen base. There are examples of Aberdeen businesses such as Craig Group and Tendeka establishing themselves in the Gulf of Mexico, while others such as NOV or ConocoPhillips originated in the Texan city. These strategic migrations happened with solid business planning and a guiding legal hand.

“It is never a case of taking the business plan that worked in one country and forcing it to work in another. There are subtle hurdles to overcome, from reassessing your finance options to incorporating or registering your company and its associated intellectual property. Patience is required with significant market research and due diligence.”

“Ledingham Chalmers has a strong regional base in the North East of Scotland but maintains an international outlook through long established business connections. I have participated in OTC for several years now and it always provides a platform for business leaders to nurture new successes.”

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