Offsets, which were originally intended to encourage the development of local industry in the Gulf, have become a determining factor in the signature of major contracts, particularly in the defence sector. From being a sideline, they have become a central feature in contract negotiations. One of the reasons for their success is that they are not totally covered by the transparency criteria governing commission payments which were brought into force by OECD convention in 1997.
Offsets are set up directly by the companies concerned, notably by their head office financial staff. But many companies opt to farm out the process and call in specialised operators. Over more than 20 years, Grant Rogan has become one of the leaders in this market. If he is called in, it is also because he is able to serve as an intermediary between Western defence groups and local offset bureaux. He is someone Western defence groups looking to carry out major projects in the region need to talk to but also someone who has precious contacts with the states of the region and their offset bureaux, which he advises and sometimes audits.
Rogan, with his team of ex-British defence ministry staff and defence industry executives, acts for groups like Dassault, BAE Systems, Airbus and Lockheed Martin.
Blenheim Capital, which was the first offset company to receive certification from Britain's Financial Services Authority (FSA) in 2010, has offices in London, Abu Dhabi and Washington and has extended the geographical range of activity to the Far East, principally Malaysia.