India Business Law Journal showcases the most significant deals of 2017 and the law firms behind them. Nandini Lakshman reports

The overarching theme in India in 2017 was demonetization. It ravaged the economy, slackened the growth momentum and put a temporary damper on major economic activities. Many aspects of the economy are not out of the woods yet fully. Even as demonetisation was hailed by many, the populace at large had to tackle a liquidity crunch, unemployment and a brief halt to major activities, according to data provided by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). The rest of the year saw India Inc and a host of state-run enterprises hit the market. The Bombay Stock Exchange became the first bourse to go public. Rural Electrification Corporation and others embarked on a fundraising cruise, sailing on initial public offers (IPOs), green bonds, offer for sale, issuance of senior notes, high yield bonds and more.

Law firms had their hands full as nearly every genre of private and public businesses were hungry for funds. They advised film companies owned by Bollywood actors for exclusive digital rights arrangements for their films. Big production houses were granted video streaming rights for some of their blockbuster movies, while a major Hindi film was uploaded on a digital streaming platform.

Private equity firms were the most active. Eris Lifesciences was the largest pharmaceutical company from India to go public, and one of the largest to date private equity exits by way of an IPO. Others like Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Industries restructured its promoter holdings, while Tata Steel restructured the pension scheme for its UK workers.

However, the mergers and acquisitions arena was not as buoyant as previous years. Many companies went in for corporate debt restructuring and buyback of listed securities, etc. And finally, six insurance companies were listed in 2017; three were trading below their issue price, including two state-run companies General Insurance Corporation and New India Assurance.

A note on methodology. India Business Law Journal selected 50 landmark deals and disputes that were completed between November 2016 and November 2017 following a lengthy period of research and consultation. These deals and cases have been chosen subjectively based on transactional data, submissions received from Indian and international law firms, and interviews with India-focused legal and corporate professionals. These have been arranged in the article by value.

In deciding the winning deals and cases, our editorial team evaluated the significance of all shortlisted contenders from a legal and regulatory standpoint. Deals were chosen not only for their size, but for the novelty and complexity of the transaction or case and for any precedents that may have been established. The same criteria was applied in choosing the star deals.


State Bank of India qualified institutional placement

US$2.3 billion Allen & Overy
Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas
Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas & Co
Squire Patton Boggs

State Bank of India (SBI), the country’s largest state-owned bank, saw a lot of takers for its qualified institutional placement (QIP). The QIP was the largest institutional equity offering from India to date. India’s insurance behemoth, Life Insurance Corporation, bought more than 38.6% of shares in the QIP. Post dilution, the government’s stake in the public sector bank shrunk to 57.07%.

The QIP is the third-largest equity offering in the Asia-Pacific region. SBI chairperson Arundhati Bhattacharya told media that “the capital was raised mainly in order to support growth because we very much believe that growth is around the corner”.

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