India’s Khaitan & Co opens Singapore office

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Hot on the heels of Indian firm Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas (CAM) opening an office in Singapore, another large firm, Khaitan & Co, has followed suit.

The law firm said the move had been in the works for some time. “Our thought to have a presence in Singapore, and the planning behind it, has been going on over the last couple of years,” Haigreve Khaitan, senior partner at Khaitan & Co, told Asia Business Law Journal‘s Gautam Kagalwala. “This pandemic and this remote way of working has not affected that strategy of ours.”

Khaitan said Singapore’s role as a major business hub and gateway is what attracted the firm. “It made a lot of sense as we will be able to cater to both the international client looking at India, and the Indian client looking overseas.”

The focus for the office will be on providing legal services for cross-border M&A transactions, private and public investments, advising high net worth Indian families on international tax and succession planning, and participating in international arbitrations involving Indian law.

Khaitan said the intention of the move was not to compete with international or local firms in the city-state. “Rather than compete, this office will really enable deeper collaboration with the international law firms,” he said. “And even on procedural matters, for example, on Indian law arbitration matters, we have to work with the local law firm, and this will enable closer working with them.”

Anuj Shah, a partner in the firm’s M&A and private client practice, and Jean Muller, director of strategy, will serve as the firm’s representatives in Singapore.

Both Shah and Khaitan noted that the Singapore government did not provide any incentives for law firms to open for business in the country, but added that the Ministry of Law in Singapore had played a proactive and supportive role in helping the firm establish a presence there.

“It was a unanimous decision based on the advice received from several of our clients, who expected us to be closer and be in the same time zone, that prompted us to take this decision,” said Shah, who has more than 15 years of experience advising corporations, financial institutions, private equity sponsors and sovereign wealth funds on corporate matters and M&A transactions.

CAM opened its Singapore office in February. Other Indian firms that have a presence there are Nishith Desai Associates and Kochhar & Co.