Elias Hayek leads our global Hospitality & Leisure Group. He is a widely respected hospitality lawyer with over two decades of cross-jurisdictional professional experience in the hospitality sector, including in sector-specific corporate and commercial transactions; management, licensing, franchising and service agreements; hospitality M&A and joint ventures; hotel project leasing agreements; mixed use and branded residential developments; sale and lease/manage back transactions; and food and beverage, restaurant and health and wellness management and licensing agreements. His clients include multi asset owner/developers, private equity funds, brand owners and third party operators. He currently represents clients on hospitality projects across Europe, Africa, Middle East and Indian Ocean. Over his career, Elias closed over 350 hospitality and leisure projects across virtually every major city in Europe, Africa, Middle East and Central Asia.
Elias is the current Vice Chair of the Leisure Industries Section of the International Bar Association (IBA) representing more than 80,000 individual lawyers and more than 190 bar associations and law societies spanning over 160 countries. He is charged with leading the hospitality and leisure initiatives for the IBA. Elias also holds two other leadership positions in the IBA: as vice chair of the Corporate Counsel Forum, and as an officer of the Arab Regional Forum (ARF) of the Legal Practice Division, where he is jointly responsible for directing strategy of the IBA in the region. He is the former chair and president of the Association of Corporate Counsel’s Middle East chapter, a position he held from its formation and launch until 2017.
Prior to joining the firm, Elias worked for 17 years at a leading Fortune 500 international hotel brands owner and operator, where his last role was as vice president, Legal – Europe, Middle East and Africa Division. During this time, Elias worked in both the Brussels and Dubai offices and was responsible for overseeing all regional legal matters in the Middle East, Africa and Indian Ocean, including advising corporate executives and hotel management on operations, acquisitions, development, HR, sales and marketing, dispute resolution, litigation and arbitration. His extensive in-house experience, multi-jurisdictional exposure, commercial acumen and vast connections in both the hotel operator and owner/developer communities are a substantial asset to clients.
He received his Juris Doctorate from the University of the Pacific, where he was a member of the International Moot Court Honors Board. He also holds a BSc in Business Administration from California State University, where he majored in Finance and Economics.
Elias is also the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award awarded by the Association of Corporate Counsel’s Global Board, the global association of corporate lawyers representing 40,000 members in over 85 countries.