Mr. Habibian, a Masters graduate of St. Joseph’s University of Beirut, has been a member of the Lebanese Bar since 1996 and was admitted to the Armenian Bar in 2013. Fluent in Arabic, English, French and Armenian.
Having trained with the law firm Farid Halim El Khoury, specialising in Banking and Corporate Law, he left the firm in 2000 as a Junior Partner to take up a senior position with Standard Chartered Bank where he succeeded in continually challenging roles for seven years. Initially appointed as Regional Head of Legal and Compliance (Levant), Mr. Habibian was later relocated to Dubai to lead the Financial Crime Risk division for the bank’s wholesale operations in the Middle East and Pakistan region and eventually became the Head of Legal and Compliance for a significant region within the Gulf and Levant. In the period 2002-2007, Standard Chartered was a highly acquisitive organisation and Mr. Habibian was heavily involved in several M&A due diligence exercises including the successful acquisition of Union Bank of Pakistan.
Mr. Habibian then moved to Bank of Sharjah for a two year period specifically to develop and set down formal governance policies within the bank, including a Code of Conduct, a Code of Ethics, operational policies and procedures relating to financial crime risk and International Sanctions and a Regulatory Compliance framework. Following completion of this work, Mr. Habibian worked in a number of senior management roles within the bank before leaving in 2009 to join Rasmala Investment Bank as General Counsel and Group Corporate Secretary. Mr. Habibian spent two years in the role, during which time he was involved in the successful launch of three major sukuks. He remainsed an ad hoc advisor to the company till end of 2013. Between 2011 and 2012 Mr. Habibian undertook a successful short term specialist role with Damas Jewellery (at that time a Nasdaq listed company) as Legal Director with the specific task of negotiating a AED3 billion debt restructuring and delisting the company for private sale.
Mr. Habibian represented many clients in M&A deals and negotiated on their behalf and successfully closed a 60 Mio USD deal between a UAE armored vehicle manufacturer and one of the Government owned subsidiary in charge of development of military vehicles .
In addition Mr. Habibian acted as a mediator in a real estate related litigation between 2 big corporate groups (one as owner of the project and the other as contractor) in Dubai and resolved a 10 Mio AED dispute and was able through mediation to settle a dispute between those groups.
Mr. Habibian is also involved in the Business and Community Service work in Armenia. As an Entrepreneur, he invested in F&B businesses in the Capital Yerevan, in addition to a real estate development that was completed and sold out. Further Mr. Habibian is a board member of Caritas Armenia a caritative organisation affiliated to the Armenian Catholic Church and involved in caritative projects all across Armenia with emphasis on projects in Gyumri and other provinces in the country namely the border line villages providing educational support as well as support on other projects involving youth, family and development of social and technical skills.
Mr. Habibian had designed and delivered Anti Money Laundering and Terrorist Counter Financing training to the Central Bank of Armenian between 2005 and 2007 with the collaboration of EBRD. Mr. Habibian is also cooperated with the Armenian Football Association to develop, train and introduce sports law and the sports arbitration within the Association and delivering ongoing training sessions about different sports legal topics with an emphasis on Alternate Dispute Resolution within the Sport arena.
In 2001, Mr. Habibian assisted in the resolution, by mediation, of a large scale dispute between a swiss commodity trader (supplier) and and Armenian Company in Yerevan (manufacteror) worth of 10 mio USD.
During his time with Standard Chartered Bank, Bank of Sharjah and Rasmala Investment Bank, Mr. Habibian was also building up an international reputation as a top-flight Sports Arbitrator. He has been deeply involved with both the Lebanese Football Federation and the Asian Football Confederation for many years. Further, Mr. Habibian has been a panel member of the Court of Arbitration for Sports, Lausanne, since 2003 till July 2019 and has been involved in a number of high profile cases. Mr. Habibian often sits as a president of panel or arbitrators and has extensive experience in dealing and managing arbitration proceedings.
Between 2012 and 2014 Mr. Habibian was a Senior Legal Advisor to the Undersecretary of the Abu Dhabi Judicial Department (ADJD) H.E. Sutlan Al Bady Al Dhahery (currently the Minister of Justice) in charge of sports arbitration and acted as the liaison between the ADJD and the Court of Arbitration for Sports in Lausanne.
Mr. Habibian collaborated as an Off Counsel with Squire Patton Boggs LLP in their offices in Abu Dhabi and Dubai and works on many specific and sensitive files concerning Sanctions on Banks as well as other Corporate Commercial related matters, in addition to high profile sports related litigations and governance advice.
Currently Mr. Habibian is the Chief Legal Officer and Board Secretary of Invest Bank (since July 2017) where he played an instrumental role in the restructuring of the Bank and the strategic investment of the Gvt of Sharjah within the capital structure of the Bank, advising the Chairman and the Board of Directors on the legal and regulatory issues the Bank faces, including but not limited to the Corporate Governance new framework, Central Bank impairement requirements and its impact on the Bank’s CAR, as well as advising the Board and the Management on different structures with different options in a view to re-capitalize the Bank.
Mr. Habibian is a founding and a Board member of ICC National Committee Armenia and has been appointed as Member of the Court of Arbitration of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) with responsibilities as a court member to scrutenize and review different arbitral award, ensuring adequacy and accuracy of such awards in addition to assessing and approving cost of arbitrators.