CbI is a business intelligence and consultancy company that tracks people, politics and business across Africa and the Middle East. We undertake due diligence and corporate intelligence investigations and provide consultancy services through written reports, confidential briefings and interactive seminars. Our staff expertise is backed by an extensive network of local sources and the CbI Archive - a proprietary database providing corporate clients with over three decades of valuable intelligence on a subscription or search-and-buy basis.
CbI was established in 1989 as an editorial house producing high quality reports for publishers including Middle East Economic Digest, as well as several Financial Times business periodicals such as International Trade Finance and The Banker. Since the outset, the company specialised in producing work, often focused on the financial and energy sectors in Africa and the Middle East.
The company also produced specialist reports for, amongst others, the UK’s Export Credits Guarantee Department and the Berne Union as well as trade and investment studies for clients such as the Financial Times, Euromoney and the World Economic Forum.
In 2000, the company bought its first publication, Gulf States Newsletter (GSN), first published in 1974 and considered one of the most trusted English language sources of analysis of people, politics and business in the six Gulf Co-operation Council member states, Iraq, Iran and Yemen.
In 2003, CbI acquired African Energy, which the company had been producing in print-ready form since 1998 for the Financial Times and then Platts. Today, African Energy is recognised as a leading source of information, intelligence and analysis of Africa’s burgeoning oil, gas, renewable energy and power sectors.
In response to demand from clients since the early 2000s for specific research on people and organisations in Africa and the Middle East and to bolster its publishing capabilities, CbI has been actively recruiting and developing its team of in-house country- or regional-experts, each of whom have added breadth and depth to the company’s pool of knowledge.
As well as more than a dozen full time staff, CbI has developed and maintains an extensive network of sources and correspondents throughout Africa and the Middle East. This means the company now delivers trusted and reliable research on people and organisations throughout those regions for blue-chip companies, banks, corporate intelligence and due diligence providers, as well as governments and institutions based in Europe, the US, Africa and the Middle East.
In 2010, the CbI opened its London office, conveniently located in the same building as the Middle East Association, while the company continues in Hastings, where the business has been operating since it was established.
Jon is the Chairman and founder of Cross-border Information. He is a political scientist with a deep knowledge of the politics and economies of Africa and the Middle East, based on more than 30 years of travel, study and curiosity about the post-colonial world.
In addition to his internationally recognised work in policy and corporate circles as an expert analyst on North Africa, Jon takes a lead role in CbI’s business development and strategy.
The founding editor of African Energy, which he set up in 1998 under the banner of the Financial Times’ former FT Energy subsidiary, Jon is author of several books and academic papers on North African history, politics and security, as well as on various aspects of finance and business – notably on issues associated with national energy industries and approaches towards debt.
A fluent French speaker, Jon carried out doctoral research on Algeria’s Mozabite community at University of London’s School of Oriental & African Studies (SOAS), which included fieldwork in Algeria. He has a Masters degree in African Government & Politics from the London School of Economics and read politics at the University of Kent at Canterbury.
Jon is an Associate Fellow of the London-based Royal Institute of International Affairs' (Chatham House) Middle East North Africa Programme.
The Maghreb: Jon has a long-standing interest in the failure of – and potentials for – regional economic and political integration in the Maghreb region, and how to unleash the potentials of the southern Mediterranean’s big populations and natural resources to build a more stable, prosperous future for the majority.
Algeria: From the development of the nationalist movement to contemporary shifts in ideology and factional balance, Algeria has been at the centre of Jon’s work and life. Interests include Mozabite political sociology, Houari Boumedienne and Algerian football
Morocco: The experience of close friends at the business daily L’Economiste excited Jon’s deep interest in this most complex polity, and exciting business environment.
Nigeria and Democratic Republic of Congo: How the business elites work in these difficult governance environments, and how national wealth can be put to better use for the majority.
T: +44 (0)1424 721 1667
Mark Ford is Managing Director of Cross-border Information with responsibility, along with key colleagues, for the strategic direction and development of the company.
In an advisory role he works closely with private and public sector clients analysing commercial and political risks for investors in Africa and the Middle East. He reports regularly to clients on political and commercial developments in the Gulf.
Prior to joining the company Mark worked as a management consultant specialising in business and economic development, providing advice to mainly industrial companies. During this time he worked in several major projects involving businesses breaking into new and wider markets in Africa and the Middle East. Mark also worked with public-sector bodies, NGOs and multi-agency initiatives, generally advising on the role businesses and business development initiatives should play in social and economic development strategies.
Mark learnt entrepreneurship at the relatively early age of 23, establishing a business group involved in retailing, training and international trading. He holds an MBA (Distinction) from Birmingham City University.
UAE: Over the last ten years, Mark has spent a considerable amount of time researching the politics and business dynamics of the UAE and has met with many prominent business and political figures in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and the Northern Emirates.
Corporate analysis: Mark has been called on to examine the performance and strength of several companies – including government related entities – in the Middle East and Africa and has produced accurate assessments of their audited and management accounts, business models, overall performance, management abilities and organisational cultures.
Nigeria: One of Mark’s current projects is focused on deepening Cross-border Information’s coverage and network of contacts in Nigeria. This work has included meeting with leading business and political figures in Lagos and Abuja.
T: +44 (0)1424 721 1667
John Hamilton is director of CBI's London office, where he plays a key role in the company’s business development and strategy.
He is a specialist in North Africa and Iraqi Kurdistan and produces regular analyses, detailed monitoring reports and briefings for CbI's private clients.
A contributing editor for both African Energy and Gulf States Newsletter, John is the lead author of a special report entitled Libya’s Energy Future, published in July 2010, and was joint-lead author alongside Jon Marks of Algeria’s Energy Future, published in April 2011.
He reads, writes and speaks standard Arabic and is also fluent in Bulgarian. His travel memoir of five years spent in Bulgaria entitled The Good Balkans was published by Wild Man Books in 2009.
John contributes to much of CbI's North Africa coverage and also works on Iraqi Kurdistan. He monitors political risk and energy sector developments in both Libya and Algeria. He is lead author of Libya's Energy Future, a special report soon to be republished in its third edition, and was co-lead author with Jon Marks of Algeria's Energy Future.
T: +44 (0)207 839 5982
Eleanor plays a lead role in the development of CbI’s special research and due diligence capabilities and in the editorial direction of Gulf States Newsletter (GSN).
She has been instrumental in the expansion of CbI’s coverage and understanding of the Gulf and its ruling and merchant family elites and has undertaken research into Gulf businesses investing in Africa’s energy industries.
Eleanor grew up in West Africa and Qatar, and has led CbI’s analysis of political risks in a wide range of countries across Africa and the Middle East, co-ordinating with on the ground sources and liaising with clients.
She has a Masters degree in Middle East Politics from University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies and read International Relations at Leeds University. She has studied both Arabic and Farsi.
Saudi Arabia: Eleanor is lead author of Politics, succession and risk in Saudi Arabia, published in 2010 and launched at London’s Chatham House. The report has a focus on succession and the relations within the Al-Saud family.
Qatar and Oman: Eleanor travels regularly to the Gulf, where she has a particular interest in the domestic political scene and ruling families of Qatar and Oman.
GCC: Eleanor’s wider regional research interests include the increasing pressures on resources caused by booming populations, and the complex mechanics of inter-GCC relations – particularly border disputes. She also has a special interest in the business and political relationships that typify Gulf ruling and merchant families.
T: +44 207 839 5982
T: +44 1424 721667
African Energy editor Thalia Griffiths is an experienced journalist and analyst of the politics and economics of Sub-Saharan Africa. She has been instrumental in the development of African Energy since its launch in 1998, and also works on other Africa-related CbI research projects.
Thalia started her journalistic career with Reuters news agency and is also a former deputy editor of London-based newsletter Africa Confidential. Her career with Reuters included three years in the West Africa regional bureau in Cote d’Ivoire, where she covered civil wars in Liberia and Sierra Leone, the changing relationship between France and its former colonies, devaluation of the CFA franc regional currency and the death of Cote d’Ivoire’s founding president Félix Houphouet-Boigny and its consequences. She also had assignments on the Middle East and Africa editing desk in Cyprus, and reporting in Eastern Europe. She still travels regularly to sub-Saharan Africa.
She has an MA in German and French from Oxford University, where she specialised in medieval literature.
T: +44 1424 72167
Fiona O’Brien is editor of the Gulf States Newsletter. She joined CbI in 2012, to oversee GSN’s migration online and bring a fresh perspective to the newsletter’s long-established expertise.
After starting her career on a local newspaper in Kent, Fiona moved to Reuters where she spent many years as a foreign correspondent in Africa and the Middle East. She covered political and economic news and reported on conflicts including Sudan, Iraq, Ivory Coast, Burundi and the DRC. She staffed Reuters bureaus in London, Nairobi, Baghdad, Beirut and Dubai, before leaving in 2005.
Since then, Fiona has worked on a number of projects throughout the region, including frequent spells with the United Nations as a consultant writer and editor. She has a BA from Cambridge in Middle Eastern Studies and an MA in Comparative Literature from King’s College London, in which she focused on French language fiction from the Maghreb. She speaks French and Arabic well, and a smattering of other languages.
T: +44 1424 721667
Oualid is an analyst, researcher and journalist specialised in political risk, security and energy in the Maghreb and Sahel regions.
As a regular contributor to African Energy and numerous other CbI research projects and monitoring reports, he analyses the impact of Sahara-based armed groups and internal conflicts on political and sub-regional stability. He also assesses the security threats to energy sites and foreign investments. He follows regional economic policies and reforms and their impact on national energy sectors and policy-making.
Oualid is a first class graduate in applied mathematics from the University of Bristol and University of California, and worked in finance, operational risk and consultancy before joining CbI. He is a native speaker of Arabic and French, fluent in English and Spanish and has a working knowledge of Italian.
T: +44 207 839 5982
David is an analyst, researcher and journalist who specialises in the politics, security and energy sector of Nigeria. A frequent traveller to the country, David plays a key role in developing and managing CbI's network of Nigeria contacts.
He read politics at the University of East Anglia and has a Masters in International Relations from the University of Sussex.
T: +44 1424 721667
Anyone doing business in the Gulf is very likely to find him or herself either a competitor or partner of one of the region’s powerful merchant families. Produced by CbI’s due diligence and research team, with support from experienced GSN editorial staff, the Merchant family series provides valuable insights to all investors interested in understanding the Gulf business environment.read more
CbI is recognised as a trusted source of research and business intelligence, working with clients throughout the world to help them with policy, strategy and investment decisions.read more
AfricaHardball is a series of executive dialogues that bring together policy-makers, industry leaders and analysts to discuss the key political issues affecting African markets in frank and open terms.read more