Social Media Links

Experts & Advisors

David Ernst

Senior Managing Director

Photograph of David Ernst

2000 K Street NW, 12th Floor
Washington, DC 20006

+1.202.797.1111 Main
+1.202.352.6855 Mobile

Get in touch

David Ernst is a Senior Managing Director at Ankura based in Washington, DC with more than 35 years of experience advising on strategy, transactions, restructuring, and governance matters. David is recognized as a global expert in the field of joint ventures. He has advised dealmakers and senior client executives across a range of industries, including oil and gas, chemicals, metals and mining, semiconductors, consumer goods, and health care. During his career, he has advised on more than 250 venture transactions in 33 countries, involving more than $300 billion in value, and has also served more than 100 existing joint ventures on governance and restructuring.


David joined Ankura with its acquisition of Water Street Partners. Water Street Partners has been independently ranked as the number one global advisory firm on joint ventures since 2017. Prior to establishing Water Street Partners, David was a partner at McKinsey & Co., where he founded its global Joint Ventures and Alliances Practice. Prior to that, David was VP-International at Evans Economics, Inc., a leading macro-econometric forecasting firm, where he advised on the economic outlook for the G-7 countries., regularly appearing in media including the New York Times, AP, Reuters, CBS Radio, and the Today Show.

David has published and spoken broadly about joint ventures and partnerships, innovation, transactions, governance, and deregulation. His book, Collaborating to Compete, was published in 5 languages. He has published six articles in the Harvard Business Review and has published or been quoted in the McKinsey Quarterly, McKinsey on Finance, Corporate Board, Financial Times, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, CFO Magazine, and elsewhere. In addition, he has co-authored guidelines for JV Governance with CALPERS, and supported the Gates Foundation in developing its initial guidelines for partnerships in global health. He regularly co-leads the annual JV CEO Roundtable with his colleagues.

David’s professional experience includes:

  • Semiconductor JV and spinout transaction: Advised on the spinout of semiconductor plants and the formation of a new joint venture, currently one of the leading foundry players in the semiconductor industry.
  • Energy storage JV Transaction: Advised leading independent power company in evaluation transaction options to internationally scale and commercialize its energy storage technology and business, including evaluating inorganic growth options and partners, structuring key transaction terms for a distribution alliance and a joint venture, and supporting integration for the new JV.
  • Biofuels JV formation: Advised on the establishment of an IP licensing JV formed by a technology company and a manufacturing company.
  • Healthcare Technology JV New Owner Transaction: Advised Board and CEO of four-partner high-growth healthcare technology on restructuring of original JV agreement to accommodate additional owners and unlock growth.
  • News media deal strategy and JV transaction: Advised the 25 largest newspapers in the US on opportunities to collaborate across print media, in response to digital transformation and loss of ad dollars; strategy led to creation of a new media joint venture.
  • Consumer Goods JV Transaction: Developed partner approach, valuation, terms, and negotiation tactics leading to a 40-year licensing deal for a leading chocolate product.
  • Chemical Refinery JV Transaction: Served independent downstream oil company in emerging market on structuring and negotiation of a $GN ethylene cracker JV with global partner.
  • Pharmaceutical JV Buyout: Advised international company on buyout o0f highly successful twenty-year joint venture in the US, including standing up of independent US organization to manage the acquired business.
  • JV Transaction/Breakup: Facilitated negotiations among the four owners of a multi-billion-dollar metal and mining JV, leading to buyout of the JV.
  • Automotive JV Restructuring Strategy: Served top-five global automaker on restructuring option and negotiation strategy for highly-profitable but challenging China JV, including issues related to geographic and product scope, and intellectual property contributions and protections related to EV and autonomous driving capabilities.
  • Pipeline JV restructuring: Served consortium of international oil and gas companies which jointly owned a multi-billion-dollar cross-border project-phase pipeline JV to redesign owner company roles, governance workings, and management authorities.
  • Mining JV Governance Redesign and Performance Transformation: Benchmarked the governance of one of the world’s largest copper mines following a period of poor performance; advised and supported the group of owner companies in restructuring the Board, Committees, and governance workings, leading to turnaround in which the mine is now one of the world’s best-performing assets.
  • Global airline alliance Strategy and Partner Integration: Served leading global airline alliance on new owner additions and integrations, and resetting the jointing requirements, contractual structure, and governance and organizational model to enable growth.
  • Global Health Partnership Design: Supported in designing the governance and implementing the startup of the Global Fund for AIDS, TB, and Malaria.
  • MA, Economics, Tufts University
  • BA, Economics, Tufts University

Thought Leadership

Let’s Connect

We solve problems by operating as one firm to deliver for our clients. Where others advise, we solve. Where others consult, we partner.

I’m interested in
I need help with