Transaction & Advisory Team
John H. Nghiem is the founder and managing director of Meridian Circle Advisors, an energy and infrastructure focused investment and merchant banking firm based in Houston. An experienced energy investment banker and private equity professional, Mr. Nghiem has completed a variety of domestic and international corporate financings, mergers and acquisitions, and financial advisory transactions and has worked with various public and private corporations, financial institutions, and public private partnerships investing or operating in such industries as energy, energy technology, and infrastructure. Mr. Nghiem began his career in energy investing in 1997 and has served as an energy investment banking and private equity professional at WestLB AG, SMH Group, Credit Suisse and Industry Capital. In building and developing MCA, Mr. Nghiem seeks to cultivate an open and transparent environment bringing together motivated, intelligent, and creative professionals who strive to succeed through collaboration with their peers and colleagues for benefit of investors and clients. Outside of his professional duties, Mr. Nghiem supports endeavors focused on the environment, public health and alleviating global poverty. Mr. Nghiem is assisted in the formation of IC-7Gen, an Industry Capital philanthropic platform to partner with international foundations and global energy companies to advance socially beneficial enterprises in the emerging markets. Mr. Nghiem holds a B.A. in political science from the University of Chicago and is a member of Houston Mayor’s International Trade & Development Council and the White House Initiative on Asian Americans. Mr. Nghiem also serves on the board of directors of the US China Partnerships which is chaired by former U.S. President, George H.W. Bush. Mr. Nghiem is Vietnamese by heritage and grew up in an energy household where his grandfather served as CFO of Esso (Exxon) Eastern Vietnam, prior to 1975.
Mr. Imel brings executive management and leadership experience that includes building upstream oil and gas companies, sourcing A&D opportunities and raising and investing capital. Since co-founding Fénix Partners Group, Fénix Petroleum Group and its predecessor, he has identified and led the acquisitions of over ~23,000 net acres, hundreds of producing wells across Texas and Louisiana. Within 90 days of taking over operatorship of multiple properties, production was increased on average by more than 45%, major marketing contracts renegotiated for ~35% cost savings, and aggressive recompletion and drilling programs put in-place. Prior to his career in upstream oil and gas, Mr. Imel was an investment banker with Barclays Natural Resources Group in Houston, where he worked on ~$8 billion worth of transactions that closed across public and private equity and debt capital markets and M&A&D. Prior to investment banking, he was a military intelligence officer with two tours in Iraq. Mr. Imel earned his MBA with a concentration in finance from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and his BS in Arabic studies with a minor in Systems Engineering from the United States Military Academy at West Point.
The MCA board of advisors helps our team set strategic direction and addresses direct tactical issues which may arise during the course of a particular transaction. Our advisors have diverse backgrounds and bring a particular area of domain expertise and global relationships to our group in order to help our professionals devise the optimal solution for our clients.
Mr. Hern served as President of Texaco Saudi, Inc., between 1981-1984, as Vice Chairman and Managing Director of Texaco Nigeria Limited, from 1984 through 1989, and as President of Texaco Brazil, from 1989 through 1994. He retired from Texaco, Inc. in 1994 after 25 years of service. Mr. Hern has also served as Chairman, CEO and founder of Nova Biosource Fuels, Inc. (NBFAQ: OTC US) since 2006. Nova produces and markets high quality biodiesel from a variety of feed stocks using a patented, proprietary process. He is currently serving on the Board of Flotek Industries (NYSE: FTK), Mesa Energy Holdings, Inc. (OTCSSL MSEH) and Rift Energy. Mr. Hern holds a bachelor of Arts degree in Chemistry from Austin College and a master of science degree in organic Chemistry from North Texas State University. He also earned two Associate Degrees, one from Wharton School of Business and another from Carnegie Mellon. Mr. Hern was recommended as a candidate for Ambassador to both Saudi Arabia and Nigeria following the first term of President George W. Bush.
Brian S. Ettinger
Ettinger is a practicing attorney whose law practice emphasizes on business representation for international and domestic multi-industry businesses, oil & gas exploration, LNG production, Oil drilling rig equipment and oil services, business and contract law, negotiations, collections and business development. Early in his career, Mr. Ettinger served as an assistant to the Mayor of Philadelphia and was a Congressional Staff Assistant to the US House Leadership and also served as the Legislative Director for Senator Joseph Biden and now, former US Vice President. A former registered lobbyist, Mr. Ettinger has advised foreign governments, sovereign owned energy companies, and international businesses. During his career in government, Mr. Ettinger has also advised the office of Vice President and President George W. Bush on various matters. Currently, Mr. Ettinger serves as Chairman of the Board and CEO of a publicly traded, generic pharmaceutical company and as a partner and general counsel of Linden Strategies Inc., an political affairs and strategies consulting firm. He is a graduate of LaSalle College and holds a J.D. Degree from South Texas College of Law.
Terry L. Helms
Mr. Helms has over 38 years of operations and management experience in the architectural, engineering and construction industry. He served as the Director / Sr. Vice President of the Manufacturing and Industrial Market for Leidos Engineering (a Fortune 500 Company), and as a Sr. Vice President and Deputy Operations Manager for Leidos’ engineering and design build operations. Prior to joining Leidos, Mr. Helms was a partner in The Benham Companies, LLC, which was annually included in Engineering New Record’s (ENR) Top 75 Architectural, Engineering and Design Build firms in the United States. At Benham, Mr. Helms held several senior management positions prior to Benham merging with SAIC, which later became Leidos. These positions included Director of Architectural, Engineering and Technology Services, Director of Business Development and Marketing, Division Office President, and a member of the Executive Operations Team. Mr. Helms is a licensed architect, and the past Chairperson for the University of Oklahoma College of Architecture Board of Visitors, which functions as a business partner to the university, and continues to serve on the board.
Dr. Guan Qin
Dr. Qin is the Gulf Coast Section of the Society of Petroleum Engineers Endowed College Professor in Petroleum Engineering at the University of Houston and holds a Ph.D. in petroleum engineering from the University of Wyoming. Dr. Qin focuses on data-driven numerical modeling and simulation for efficient unconventional reservoir development. He has served as a project advisor to several state-owned oil and gas companies in China and a variety of international and independent companies.
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