As a wave of dealmaking showcases legal prowess around the world, India Business Law Journal reveals the top foreign law firms for India work. By Vandana Chatlani
Well over a year has passed since the world was thrown into the devastation of the covid pandemic. Having experienced a series of lockdowns and the paralysis resulting from sudden spikes in infection rates, legal communities had to find new ways to cope in order to continue working. Lawyers buckled down, mobilised their teams from home and made transactions happen. Behind the scenes, there were personal tragedies, health struggles, challenges with home-schooling, job insecurities and more.
Surprisingly, on the transaction stage, it has appeared as though nothing much has changed. Lawyers have adapted to their home offices, harnessing technology to stay connected to colleagues and clients. Glancing through India Business Law Journal’s Deals of the Year 2020, one would be hard-pressed to find signs of a health crisis. Both international and Indian firms rose to the occasion, resolving disputes through virtual court proceedings and closing deals remotely.
Much of this deal activity continues. Of course, the covid crisis dampened specific practice areas and industries, while boosting others. Healthcare, vaccine development and IP protection came to the forefront and businesses grappling with financial uncertainty kept the restructuring, insolvency and employment law specialists busy. E-commerce and technology deals were also on the rise. Meanwhile, real estate, infrastructure and project work remained bleak and the capital markets were quieter than usual. In the past 12 months, knowledge sharing, communication and training took on a new level of importance.
The road ahead may not be devoid of hurdles, however, growing optimism and dedication suggests that Indian and international firms have the tenacity to get through the toughest times.
The past 12 months have seen unusual movements of senior lawyers like never before. Prominent departures include: Sanjeev Dhuna leaving Allen & Overy for Shearman & Sterling; Nicholas Peacock moving from Herbert Smith Freehills to Bird & Bird; Rahul Guptan crossing over from Clifford Chance to White & Case; Biswajit Chatterjee heading from Squire Patton Boggs to Hogan Lovells; Neeraj Budhwani jumping from Clifford Chance to Milbank; Andrew Edge transferring from Stephenson Harwood to Taylor Wessing; and Jaya Gupta moving from Allen & Overy to Addleshaw Goddard.
The legal community also saw veteran India partner Talat Ansari bid farewell to Kelley Drye & Warren after 33 years and join Seyfarth Shaw. In addition, Nilufer Lam from Slaughter and May and Mike Duggan from Addleshaw Goddard retired this year. Whether this reshuffle has been the result of deliberate reflection on the part of India groups, individual ambitions, or simply a desire for change is not always clear.
Against the backdrop of this dynamic, challenging and fast-moving business and legal landscape, India Business Law Journal reveals the India-related achievements and activities of law firms around the world. Our report, now in its 15th year, draws on an analysis of more than 600 law firms from every continent that have recorded deals and disputes with an Indian element in the past 12 months. Our results are based on intensive research, deep editorial experience and extensive consultation with corporate counsel and Indian law firms.
As in previous years, we received hundreds of submissions from law firms and carefully scrutinised public and other records, along with reports in Indian and international media, to ensure the accuracy of our information.
Based on this research, India Business Law Journal is pleased to present its selection of the top 15 foreign law firms for India-related work. We also list 15 firms that are considered key players for India-related deals and an additional 20 firms that are classed as significant players.
Each year we closely examine the work of regional and specialist firms in key economies such as Australia, Canada, Germany, Japan and Singapore, along with regions such as sub-Saharan Africa and offshore investment hubs such as Mauritius. We highlight 20 firms in this category that are poised, dedicated and well-equipped to capture roles on India-related assignments.
We further identify 15 firms to watch and 15 firms to watch in the regional category. Some of these firms are huge entities, providing Indian clients with access to multi-jurisdictional services and broad practice area expertise. Others have worked to develop niche knowledge, boasting strong capabilities across specific industries, and creating regional networks to assist India-connected clients with contentious and non-contentious needs. We believe, on the evidence available, that these firms are committed to India and remain inspired to enhance their India-related credentials.
All the lists are in alphabetical order. Beyond deals, Indian clients also have incredible choice when it comes to resolving disputes, as evidenced by the rise of litigators and arbitration specialists with Indian experience across all our categories.
In addition, international firms have raised their game to provide assistance on public policy, anti-corruption and social impact initiatives. Two new firms enter our top 15: Bird & Bird and White & Case – firms that have attracted India experts, demonstrated fervour with regard to India and showcased their ability to handle complex, cross-border matters across practice areas. The table comprises law firms that have handled sophisticated matters, disputes and projects, earning the respect and trust of clients and peers as a result of their stellar practices, and the performance of individual lawyers championing their India desks.
Virtually all those listed in the top 15, and many among the key and significant player categories, have dedicated resources, talent and energy to the Indian market for more than 20 years, building long-lasting relationships with Indian companies, financial institutions and law firms. Indian businesses have explored and conquered new markets, and their increasing experience and maturity has led to billion-dollar, headline-grabbing deals.
This hunger for expansion has led Indian talent to explore opportunities worldwide and prompted foreign law firms to compete for a piece of the action. Whether we have encountered the worst of the pandemic is anyone’s guess. For now, businesses and law firms will simply have to take things in their stride, looking after employees and clients, taking calculated risks, and ensuring that contingency plans are in place for the future.
TOP 15 foreign
Firms are listed in alphabetical order.
ALLEN & OVERY’S pre-eminence stems from its experience in handling innovative and complex matters for clients such as Tata Group, Adani, Mahindra Logistics, ICICI Bank and Suzlon Energy. Recent highlights include advising Indian Railway Finance Corporation on the update of its USD4 billion global medium-term note programme and the issuance of USD750 million 2.8% notes due 2031. The deal is one of the only bond transactions from South Asia undertaken by an issuer immediately following an IPO.
The legal counsel of an Indian blue-chip company sought the firm’s advice on a multibillion-dollar dispute with the Indian government relating to oil and gas fields. He recommends Sheila Ahuja, who is “very articulate and understands practical and cultural issues”, and Arun Mal, who is “a very hardworking young lawyer with an eye for detail”. Other key India practice experts are Gautam Narasimhan, Pallavi Gopinath Aney, Rishi Hindocha and Ash Tiwari.
ASHURST has a long history of working with Indian clients seeking expert advice on capital markets deals, M&A, finance, projects and energy. The firm’s client roster includes Citi, JP Morgan, Nomura, Kia Motors, Hyundai, Sojitz, Jubilant Foodworks, GVK and MetLife. It also profits from a non-exclusive best-friend referral arrangement with Indian Law Partners. Ashurst was legal counsel to: the underwriters on Greenko Energy’s USD940 million green bond issuance; the bookrunning lead managers on Burger King India’s USD135 million Indian IPO; and Indian medical device company Geltec on the sale of its UAE-based pharmaceutical business to Yas Holding.
The firm is representing APG as a cornerstone investor on its USD200 million initial commitment to GBTC II, an offshore pooling vehicle established as a Singapore limited partnership fund to co-invest alongside Godrej Properties in office and commercial development projects and buildings across India. Stuart Rubin heads the India practice.
BAKER MCKENZIE is a popular choice for Indian clients thanks to its “extensive global network” and “lawyers who understand India and Indian courts very well”, says Rishab Gupta, a partner at Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas & Co. Aashit Shah, a partner at J Sagar Associates, points to the firm’s “breadth of experience on India-related deals over decades”, and believes it is “one of the best international firms for Indian transactions”.
In March, the firm advised the State Bank of India (SBI) in the first secured overnight financing rate loan facility of USD100 million to Indian Oil. The deal was the first risk-free rate loan in the external commercial borrowing market, the first in South Asia, and the first for SBI and Indian Oil. India practice head Ashok Lalwani is “very practical, astute and solution-oriented”, while Nandakumar Ponniya and Ashish Chugh are “thorough and approachable”, says Rahul Dwarkadas, a partner at Veritas Legal. James Huang, Emannuel Hadjidakis and Kah Chin Chu are also well regarded.
BIRD & BIRD soars to the Top 15 after a stellar year in M&A, private equity and disputes involving Indian clients. The firm also has a strong track record in life sciences and technology transactions. Recent accomplishments include advising Google in its series B investment into InMobi’s mobile-first content platform, Glance, and acting for Voltas in multiple Singapore court proceedings arising from the construction of the Marina Coastal Expressway and the Thomson-East Coast Line Mass Rapid Transit. In April, Nick Peacock, former head of the India disputes practice at Herbert Smith Freehills, joined the firm as a partner and head of its London arbitration group.
“Bird & Bird are world class,” says Naveen Raju, general counsel and executive vice president of group legal services at Mahindra & Mahindra. “We would consider Bird & Bird for technology-related transactions and disputes, both in India and internationally.” Nipun Gupta, Jane Owen and James Mullock are key practitioners.
CLIFFORD CHANCE has had an unwavering commitment to India for more than five decades, scoring deals across practice areas in industries such as banking, energy and resources, and infrastructure and telecoms. The firm assisted: Berkeley Energy and Dutch development bank FMO on Berkeley’s commercial rooftop solar platform in India and Thailand; a member of the Adani group on the sale of a 20% interest in Adani Green Energy to Total; and a US financial institution in a major anti-bribery and corruption investigation arising out of large construction projects in Hyderabad and Bengaluru.
“Without a doubt, Clifford Chance is one of the best international law firms operating in India,” says SR Patnaik, head of taxation at Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas. Michael McIlwrath, the founder of MDisputes, says the firm is “rightly regarded as top tier”, and praises its ability to reduce inefficiencies, manage costs and increase quality in highly complex arbitrations. Nish Shetty, Kabir Singh and Paul Sandosham are India experts.
DLA PIPER prides itself on digitising its practice, using data analytics and developing cutting-edge solutions for clients. The firm routinely advises Indian tech clients and government bodies as they embrace the digitisation of manufacturing. Recently, the firm assisted client Wipro on the non-US and non-India aspects of its USD1.45 billion acquisition of Capco, handling due diligence and transactional document advice along with antitrust and foreign direct investment issues across 21 jurisdictions. In addition to this expertise, the firm advises Indian clients on M&A, restructuring and insolvency, capital markets and disputes. DLA was counsel to: HCL Technologies on its inaugural USD500 million bond issue in the Reg S and Rule 144A market; YES Bank on a restructuring transaction involving its exposure to Cox & Kings Group; and Swedish gaming group Stillfront in its purchase of Bengaluru-based Moonfrog Labs. Tech and outsourcing specialist Kit Burden joins Daniel Sharma as co-chair of DLA’s India group.
Arun Balasubramanian and Piusha Bose head up FRESHFIELDS’ India focus group, which comprises more than 50 lawyers across different offices and practice areas. The firm is renowned for its M&A and disputes capabilities, frequently snapping up roles on marquee deals. One such example is Google’s USD4.5 billion investment in Jio Platforms.
Freshfields advised on Google’s governance arrangements, as well as commercial agreements with Jio, covering a number of key projects including the companies’ combined efforts to develop an affordable smartphone with an optimised operating system for the entry-level market. The firm also assisted Development Partners International (through its ADP III fund), CDC Group and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development on the creation of a biopharmaceutical platform, formed through the acquisition and combination of Egyptian generic drugs manufacturer, Adwia Pharmaceuticals, and Indian oncology and critical care specialist, Celon Laboratories. In July 2020, Freshfields opened an office in Silicon Valley, expanding its reach for Indian clients.
General counsel and law firms alike agree that HERBERT SMITH FREEHILLS (HSF) is an undisputed leader on the India circuit. The firm has maintained its stellar reputation and commitment to India through business, and social and charity initiatives under the leadership of Chris Parsons. This has been an attractive draw for Indian blue-chip companies such as Bharti Global, which sought the firm’s advice on its USD1 billion acquisition of OneWeb last November. The deal involved a team of more than 70 HSF lawyers from Britain, the US, France, Australia, Italy, Russia, Belgium and Japan across its corporate, TMT, regulatory, finance, restructuring and tax practices. A month later, the firm advised Yinson Holdings on its acquisition of Rising Sun Energy, which owns solar power plants in Rajasthan. In the past 12 months, HSF took on Xceedance, Apollo Education UK, and Johnson & Johnson as new clients with Indian interests. Andrew Cannon heads the India disputes practice.
Singapore is the main centre for JONES DAY’s India practice. In the past year, the firm worked on a number of India-related matters across banking and finance, energy and projects, M&A, private equity, and disputes and investigations. Standout deals include representing UPL in a USD500 million sustainability-linked loan with a USD250 million greenshoe option, and advising Indian hospitality chain OYO in a joint venture with SoftBank Group to manage its Latin American hotels business. Genevieve Wong, director of legal for Asia-Pacific at Oxford Properties Group, commends India practice lead Sushma Jobanputra for understanding what is important to international clients, in particular, Canadian institutional investors.
“She is able to combine her formidable legal skills with a strong business and commercial sense in order to deliver good practical legal advice,” says Wong, who also endorses Ben Witherall for being “proactive and able to provide practical and commercial legal advice while being very accessible and timely in his response”.
LATHAM & WATKINS is one of the dominant firms for capital markets. Its deal list includes representing the underwriters on Reliance Industries’ USD7 billion rights offering, and advising on India’s largest block trade by Horlicks and GlaxoSmithKline of their shares in Hindustan Unilever. The firm has expanded its offerings, taking on banking, project financing and M&A assignments. This year, Latham acted for ReNew Power on its USD8 billion business combination with RMG Acquisition Corporation II and subsequent listing on the Nasdaq.
Rajiv Gupta is “the best lawyer for India and knows India and the US capital markets inside out”, says one client. Prashant Gupta, the national practice head for capital markets at Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas & Co, says Latham “continues to be the only top-tier international firm with a significant presence across all practice areas in India”. Andrew Bishop, who focuses on India finance deals, and Hiroaki Takagi, former India practice head at Nishimura & Asahi, are new partner additions.
LINKLATERS’ deep ties with India enable it to secure roles on an array of deals. The firm advised on four of India Business Law Journal’s Deals of the Year 2020. Most of the firm’s India group – led by finance partner Narayan Iyer – are dual qualified, have previously practised in India, and have direct experience executing domestic and cross-border transactions for Indian clients. In May, partners Amit Singh and Michele Discepola led a team that advised on India’s highest-rated US dollar bond offerings to date – the maiden international offerings by Wipro and HCL Technologies. The team was supported by counsel Lim Xunming, managing associate Calvin Soon and senior US associate Jairo Lamatina. Linklaters also secured roles on Delhi International Airport’s USD450 million green bond issue and UltraTech Cement’s USD400 million dollar-denominated sustainability-linked issue.
“Linklaters stands out as one of the top five firms for India-related deals,” says one client.
NORTON ROSE FULBRIGHT offers Indian clients geographical breadth, bench strength and specialisation across practice areas. With 7,000 lawyers in 50 offices, the firm is well positioned to handle multi-jurisdictional projects, banking assignments and disputes – three of its core areas. Natixis instructed Norton Rose in connection with a project finance agreement for RBDC for the construction of a data centre in Chennai, where the firm advised on project documents and debt and equity financing. Co-operatieve Rabobank UA, Mumbai branch, turned to the firm for advice on financing for the construction and operation of a 250MW solar photovoltaic project in Andhra Pradesh being developed by SB Energy Solar.
Norton Rose is “very focused, with in-depth knowledge of the arbitration scenario in India”, says senior counsel Percival Billimoria, who was engaged by the firm on international commercial arbitration. India practice head Sherina Petit is well regarded.
SHEARMAN & STERLING (S&S) is consistently called on for its expertise on M&A, private equity and capital markets deals. In April, the firm hired Allen & Overy’s former India group chairman and partner Sanjeev Dhuna. Shearman regularly picks up roles on high-value transactions such as Reliance Retail Ventures’ USD3.3 billion acquisition of Future Group’s retail, wholesale, logistics and warehousing businesses, and Motherson Sumi Systems’ USD1 billion group restructuring and demerger of its domestic wiring harness business. Sandip Ray, joint manager for human resources at GMR Hyderabad International Airport, selected the firm as international counsel for its US dollar bond offering.
“We found S&S to be very useful in terms of identifying potential conflict areas and finding solutions with the lenders,” says Ray. Julian Gratiaen, director of legal at OMERS in Sydney, says India practice lead Sidharth Bhasin “really understands the Indian market, is very responsible, always available and is a great technical lawyer.”
SIDLEY AUSTIN is a heavy hitter for corporate finance matters. The law firm was: counsel to 13 lead managers on Mindspace Business Parks REIT’s USD625 million IPO; one of the joint global co-ordinators and bookrunners on Adani International Container Terminal’s USD300 million debut bond offering; and the lead managers on a USD520 million qualified institutional placement (QIP) by Godrej Properties – the largest by a real estate company in India to date.
Akash Aggarwal, executive director of investment banking at Axis Capital, has worked with the firm on a number of capital markets deals, and says he is comfortable working with Manoj Bhargava, who he describes as “among those very few partners who know how to handle tough clients”. In the past 12 months, Sidley boosted its India client roster with the addition of Adani Ports and Special Economic Zones, CreditAccess Grameen, Rainshine Global, and Dream Sports.
WHITE & CASE’s long association with India and its expertise in deal-making and dispute resolution with an Indian element earns it a place in our Top 15. Earlier this year, the firm won a role as adviser to Novasep on the proposed sale of its chromatography process equipment division to Sartorius Group. The transaction covers operations on different Novasep sites, including the Pompey site in eastern France and sites in the US, China and India.
It was also instructed by Schneider Electric, in partnership with Temasek Holdings, on its INR140 billion (USD2.1 billion) acquisition of Larsen & Toubro’s electrical and auto business. In May, the firm scored a huge win with the appointment of Rahul Guptan, a former Clifford Chance capital markets partner. Guptan’s credentials on India-related transactions and strong relationships in the region bolster White & Case’s offering. Other India-focused experts are Dipen Sabharwal, Nandan Nelivigi, Aloke Ray and Alexander McMyn.
Firms are listed in alphabetical order.
CLEARY GOTTLIEB receives glowing endorsements for its India practice encompassing M&A, private equity, antitrust, anti-corruption, capital markets and dispute resolution. The firm clocked up a number of impressive deals, one of which was Ola Electric Mobility’s acquisition of Dutch company Etergo, which is engaged in the development and manufacture of electric scooters.It was also the counsel to Goldman Sachs on the USD8 billion ReNew ower listing through a business combination with RMG Acquisition Corporation II, the first major Indian SPAC deal.
“They provide really solid insights and are well-connected to the local players,” says one Indian general counsel. “Cleary is top notch,” says a partner at one of India’s top law firms. “They are on the ball on country-specific issues.” Clients appreciate private equity specialist Nallini Puri, who has “a strong understanding of Indian laws”. Puri, Tihir Sarkar, Sunil Gadhia and Michael Preston are key members of the India group.
With 73 offices in 41 countries, CMS guides Indian companies across sectors as they expand their operations internationally. RWS Holdings called on the firm when it acquired Madhya Pradesh-based computer software and e-commerce business, Webdunia.com, and Mumbai-based online travel company Cleartrip sought their advice on the Singapore aspects of its 100% share sale to Indian e-commerce company Flipkart. Debolina Partap, senior vice president of legal and group general counsel at Wockhardt, says CMS is “a good choice for litigation and arbitration … they are very strategic in approaching matters, very well researched on case laws and extremely cost-effective”. Last December, CMS appointed Babita Ambekar, formerly global head of the India initiative at DWF. Ambekar is now head of the India desk in Singapore, while Bill Carr spearheads the India practice globally. Other key contacts for India are Alasdair Steele, John O’Connor, Stephan Werlen, Ernst-Markus Schuberth and Heiko Wiechers.
EVERSHEDS SUTHERLAND debuts in the Key Players category due to its longstanding dedication to India and its strength across practice areas. The firm amassed a string of deals, advising Elan Qatar on the sale of Novo Cinemas to Carnival Group; acting for Development Capital on the sale of Perigord Asset Holdings to Tech Mahindra; and assisting Gujarat-based Windsor Machines, a global supplier of food processing and packaging machinery, on a reorganisation plan for the group’s assets in Italy. “Eversheds has a strong practice in the education, energy, financial services and telecom sectors in India,” says Rabindra Jhunjhunwala, a partner at Khaitan & Co. “They are cost-effective, leverage technology to provide seamless services and are truly excellent at conducting multi-jurisdictional projects.”
K Vijayshyam Acharya, global head of legal at QuEST Global, appreciates the firm’s “sound, timely and practical advice” and “strong execution capabilities”. Parmjit Singh drives the India practice.
Clients entrust their work to GIBSON DUNN & CRUTCHER on account of the firm’s impeccable reputation on India-related transactions. Last year, the firm was counsel to Eros Innovations in a joint venture with Mike Tyson to form the Legends Only League, which focuses on events, opportunities and content for iconic athletes. It also represented private equity firm Rhône Group in the USD2.7 billion acquisition of Lummus Technology, a deal it undertook with the Chatterjee Group and its flagship, Haldia Petrochemicals.
In addition, it is advising IndiGo airlines on aircraft acquisition and leasing, arbitration and anti-corruption legislation, and US customs and export regulations. “Gibson’s team is responsive, thoughtful and sensitive to local law issues that arise with listed companies in India,” says one client, who credits India practice head Jai Pathak for being “an excellent guide for the Indian legal landscape” and describes Ron Mueller as “a fantastic corporate lawyer”.
GOODWIN PROCTER is a private equity presence, regularly advising clientele on investments in India, especially in the new economy sectors. Among its clients are B Capital Group, DST Global, General Catalyst, GSV Ventures, Hillhouse Capital, Tybourne Capital and Vy Capital Management. Key deals include: Advising Lone Pine Capital on its series I investment into Pine Labs; representing four international private equity funds in their series F investments in Bengaluru-based Byju’s; advising Coatue Management on its USD50 million series E1 and USD26.5 million series E2 investments in Mumbai-based Rebel Foods; and assisting GSV Ventures Management in its USD30 million series D investment in Lead School, an Indian edtech company. Harsha Raghavan, the managing partner of Convergent Finance, has worked solely with Goodwin on offshore fund formation work since 2008.
“Goodwin provides excellent service with timely turnaround, deep subject matter understanding and commercially oriented advice,” says Raghavan. “Yash Rana, Greg Barclay and Manish Ranjan are all excellent.”
HOGAN LOVELLS showcases diversity as it helps clients seal deals, restructure businesses and resolve disputes in India. The firm was legal adviser to Flipkart on its USD1.2 billion fundraising led by Walmart, and has worked on multiple matters for both companies in India. It also acted for PhonePe, previously a subsidiary of Flipkart, on its partial spin-off to secure USD700 million in a new financing round, once again led by Walmart.
“Hogan has a dedicated India regional practice and the team is able to understand the dynamics of the Indian legal framework and its interplay with international laws, giving a holistic perspective to every transaction they are involved in,” says Abhijit Joshi, managing partner of Veritas Legal. Joshi calls William Curtin, Stephanie Keen and Soumitro Mukerji “top class lawyers who bring cutting-edge experience to the table”. Former Squire Patton Boggs India practice head Biswajit Chatterjee joined the firm this month.
KIRKLAND & ELLIS is a magnet for complex matters, both contentious and non-contentious, involving Indian companies. Its clients include Axis Bank, Essar Steel, Apax Partners, Infosys, Lodha Group, KKR, Reliance Communications and Warburg Pincus. Recent accomplishments include: Representing textile manufacturer Welspun India and its subsidiary, Welspun USA, in a consumer class action alleging misrepresentations of its Egyptian cotton products; acting for Dr Reddy’s Laboratories on its move to invalidate patents on Horizon Therapeutics and Nuvo Pharmaceuticals’ arthritis drug, Vimovo; and advising CarVal Investors as the lead investor in the acquisition of Uttam Value Steel and Uttam Galva Metallics. Vikram Lakshman, assistant vice president at Blackstone, says: “Cori Lable is the best in class in the FCPA [US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act] practice area and always provides extremely high-quality advice”. Former Latham & Watkins finance expert Manas Chandrashekar joined the firm recently, while Asheesh Goel, Srinivas Kaushik and Atif Khawaja are valuable India contacts.
MAYER BROWN’s India practice is headed by David Carpenter and Paul de Bernier. The firm is well regarded for its arbitration prowess under the leadership of Tay Yu-jin, and has built strong credentials across other practice areas such as corporate finance with Kayal Sachi and Ian Roebuck. Jeffrey Graham, senior vice president and global head of legal and compliance at SkyPower, says Mayer Brown in Singapore is a “first-class advisory firm” that has “excellent strategic sense with respect to Indian law, and is very timely in providing services”.
Tay offers “strategic advice which has been right on the money”, says Graham, while Divyesh Menon “has shown excellent drafting skills and great thoroughness”. Lee Sin Chee, vice president of legal, compliance and contract management for Asia-Pacific at Alstom, recommends Paul Teo and his team. They are “highly experienced in construction and infrastructure disputes and offer suggestions and solutions with business in mind”.
MILBANK is a powerhouse on the finance front with big-ticket banking, project and aircraft finance deals. Its relationships with financial institutions and Indian companies have earned it roles on prominent capital markets transactions and M&A and private equity assignments. The firm was counsel to Delhi International Airport on its issue of rupee-denominated non-convertible debentures to Cliffton, an orphan special purpose vehicle organised under Mauritius law. Milbank also clinched a role as counsel to the lead arrangers on financing facilities relating to Reliance Jio Infocomm’s USD30 billion telecom project to expand India’s 4G wireless network. On the M&A front, the firm advised the controlling shareholders in the sale of the Indian operations of Columbia Asia Hospitals to Manipal Health Enterprises. In January, partner Neeraj Budhwani joined Milbank from Clifford Chance, bringing experience on cross-border private equity and M&A. Key India contacts are Naomi Ishikawa, James Grandolfo, John Dewar and Sinjini Saha.
REED SMITH is a frontrunner on financial matters and dispute resolution involving Indian parties. The firm acted for the government of India and its Department of Investment and Public Management on the IPO of 25% of the paid-up equity capital of WAPCOS. It also advised Climate Fund Managers on the USD120 million investment by Climate Investor One in Ampyr India, which operates wind power projects. On the contentious side, the firm is advising SpiceJet in a variety of lease restructuring and dispute matters.
Hywel Phillip, general counsel at AT Capital, instructed the firm on the sale of its business, Orange Renewable Group, to Greenko Mauritius. It also appointed the firm to act on a dispute related to the sale, where it won its claim. “Reed Smith provides excellent service and advice at affordable, value-for-money rates,” says Phillip. “Gautam Bhattacharyya, Matt Gorman and Gerald Licnachan are all first-rate lawyers who are a pleasure to deal with.”
ROPES & GRAY’s client base includes the world’s leading private equity sponsors, as well as their portfolio companies, and major companies in the life sciences, energy and natural resources sectors. The firm is also actively involved in anti-corruption investigations for international companies doing business in India, focusing on compliance, fraud, bribery, money laundering and other issues. Google engaged the firm when it sought approval from the Competition Commission of India for its USD4.5 billion acquisition of an interest in Reliance Jio Platforms.
On the corporate side, the firm was counsel to biotech company Novavax on its USD167 million purchase of Praha Vaccines in the Czech Republic, from an investment company of the Poonawalla Family, and was also instructed by KKR on the financing for its acquisition of a controlling stake in JB Chemicals & Pharmaceuticals. Key India-focused practitioners are Ruchit Patel, Daniel Anderson, Mark Barnes, Kiran Sharma and Andrew Dale.
SIMPSON THACHER & BARTLETT is a favourite when it comes to representing PE and strategic clients on high-value matters involving India. The firm was counsel to KKR on its USD1.5 billion investment in Jio Platforms, its USD750 million investment into Reliance Retail Ventures, and its USD204 million acquisition of five solar energy assets in Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu from Shapoorji Pallonji Infrastructure Capital. It also picked up roles as adviser to Blackstone on its USD1 billion acquisition of Piramal Glass, and its purchase of a controlling stake in Mphasis for USD2.8 billion – the largest private equity deal in India so far in 2021. Vikram Lakshman, assistant vice president at Blackstone, has worked with the firm on PE, M&A and real estate deals. He recommends Ian Ho, Anthony King and Makiko Harunari for being commercially savvy lawyers who “make sure that they are always available and provide holistic commercial and legal advice”.
SLAUGHTER AND MAY capitalises on its strengths across practice areas on complex and high-value deals. STAR India and STAR Middle East used the firm on their successful bid for the global audio-visual rights for International Cricket Council events from 2015-2023. The deal is cricket’s biggest global broadcast partnership to date. The law firm was also brought on board by TVS Motor Company in connection with its acquisition of the iconic British motorcycles brand, Norton.
It also advised GlaxoSmithKline on the divestment of Horlicks and other consumer healthcare nutrition brands to Unilever, and the merger of GSK Consumer Healthcare with Hindustan Unilever for GBP3.1 billion (USD4.3 billion). Nilufer von Bismarck retired this year after 31 years at the firm. Robin Ogle takes over from von Bismarck as Slaughter’s lead corporate India country partner. Simon Hall is the firm’s lead financing India country partner, supported by Samay Shah, and Richard Swallow leads in disputes.
SQUIRE PATTON BOGGS attracted a steady stream of capital markets assignments including IPOs for Indigo Paints, Suryoday Small Finance Bank, Railtel Corporation and Anupam Rasayam India.
“Squire Patton Boggs has an excellent understanding of the Indian market and the Indian regulatory framework,” says Abhishek Saxena, a partner at Phoenix Legal. The firm assisted on a USD505 million QIP by Punjab National Bank, a USD200 million offer for sale in SBI Life Insurance, and a USD135 million rights issue of Aditya Birla Fashion and Retail.
Bharucha & Partners works with the firm on sports law and disputes on media rights agreements for international cricket tours, and says the law firm “has a fantastic sports and entertainment law team with India-related experience. Stephen Sampson is one of the best in the field of sports law-related disputes.” Clients also recognise Frank Wisner, Sabine Pittrof and Paul Lewis for their India experience.
STEPHENSON HARWOOD has carved out a reputation among high net-worth clients. “Sunita Singh-Dalal in Dubai is an excellent private wealth lawyer,” says Anand Desai, the managing partner of DSK Legal. She is “skilled and experienced in wealth management and estate planning”, adds Shardul Thacker, a partner at Mulla & Mulla. Thacker has worked extensively with the firm’s Singapore office on maritime matters in particular. He describes Martin Green as “a very thorough and meticulous lawyer”, and says Gregory Xu offers “extensive experience in asset finance, particularly shipping and transport”.
The firm is also prominent in finance and M&A deals. In a recent transaction, it advised the State Bank of India’s Hong Kong branch on its USD1 billion loan from Japan Bank for International Co-operation. The loan will be used to provide funds to manufacturers, suppliers and dealers of Japanese automobiles in India. Kamal Shah heads the India initiative.
Firms are listed in alphabetical order.
ADDLESHAW GODDARD has cemented its reputation in the Indian market, winning clients such as Tata Chemicals, ICICI Bank, Apollo Tyres, Diageo, Cipla and GVK. Sahil Kanuga, co-head of international dispute resolution and investigations at Nishith Desai Associates, says the firm has made “deep inroads across practice areas and industries” and has “a better grasp on India-centric issues than some Indian law firms”. Addleshaw was recently instructed by Patel Engineering in its claims against the Republic of Mozambique for breaches to the India-Mozambique Bilateral Investment Treaty. Aditya Swarup, a Supreme Court of India advocate, says the firm has shown “an exceptionally high degree of professionalism” in both arbitration and corporate matters, and “displayed extensive technical knowledge” when handling arbitrations relating to power projects. In January, the firm welcomed former Allen & Overy India corporate head, Jaya Gupta, who co-chairs the India practice at Addleshaw with Richard Wise.
COOLEY makes its debut in the Significant Players category after an impressive year supporting venture capital and emerging companies, particularly in the life sciences and technology sector. Memorable deals in the past 12 months include: Representing PhonePe in its partial spinoff from Flipkart and concurrent USD700 million investment; advising Indian social commerce platform Meesho in its USD300 million series E financing; and acting for the Government of Singapore Investment Corporation in its investment in the USD100 million series D financing of Razorpay. Amit Patel, the managing director of Owl Ventures, has worked with Cooley on several investments his company has made in India in leading edtech companies. “They have been an invaluable adviser to us, not only when we have made investments, but also during the exit process,” he says. Last year, the firm launched Cooley GO Asia, a resource platform for entrepreneurs and investors across India and Southeast Asia markets.
COVINGTON & BURLING has long represented US, European and Indian clients on a variety of India-related projects spanning M&A, project financing, joint ventures, and trade and regulatory matters. Its mandates range from securing contracts for major sporting events to capital raising for energy projects and conducting US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act investigations in India. Its clients include Reliance Infocomm, ICICI Bank, Indian Energy and Axis Bank, and it has also been involved in international arbitrations on behalf of and against Indian parties.
Covington advises on matters of public policy relating to India, which covers international trade and investment, foreign assistance, intellectual property rights, trade controls and competition law. Last June, a team led by Ralph Voltmer advised return client Piramal Enterprises in the sale of a 20% stake in its subsidiary, Piramal Pharma, to CA Clover Intermediate II Investments. Voltmer and Simon Amies are primary contacts for India.
CRAVATH SWAINE & MOORE is associated with prestige in legal circles. The firm may only appear on select transactions involving Indian entities, however, its teams often get a lion’s share of the action when big businesses encounter challenges. When a consortium led by Bharti and the British government acquired OneWeb for USD1 billion through a court-supervised sale process, Cravath was appointed. It represented the consortium that helped rescue OneWeb from US chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and restart its business operations.
Srinivasan Vaidyanathan, CFO and group head of finance at HDFC Bank, says Cravath has been associated with the bank for the past 20 years. He notes the firm’s quality of service, and Philip Boeckman’s “experience and professionalism”. Cyril Shroff, the managing partner at Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas, says: “We have worked with them on both corporate and equity market deals. Damien Zoubek and Philip Boeckman are standout partners. We highly recommend them for complex deals.”
DAVIS POLK wins accolades for its expertise on capital markets, finance and corporate deals. The firm was international legal adviser to the 18 bookrunning lead managers when ICICI Bank raised USD2 billion through a QIP of almost 419 million shares last August. The transaction was led by New York partner Margaret Tahyar and Hong Kong partner Gerhard Radtke.
A few months later, in October 2020, the firm won a role on a series of deals, this time advising Reliance Retail Ventures and its parent, Reliance Industries, on three investments into Reliance Retail Ventures for a total of about USD2.5 billion. Davis Polk’s team on all three deals comprised lawyers from its London office. In addition to its track record on corporate matters, the firm also offers strong capabilities in litigation. Martin Rogers has substantial experience with securities and banking regulators in India.
Peter Goldsmith QC and Geoffrey Burgess drive the India practice at DEBEVOISE & PLIMPTON. Both lawyers present an appealing offer for Indian clients including deep experience in arbitration, litigation, private equity, and technology, media and telecommunications. The firm is also active on thought leadership and deal-making in the healthcare industry.
Last April, it assisted Leapfrog in its investment in MedGenome, a genetic diagnostic testing and genomics research company with operations in the US, India, Canada and Singapore. MedGenome has built the largest database of South Asian genetic variants through its leadership in genetic diagnostics in India. Debevoise was also consulted by AIA in its long-term strategic partnership with Practo, a digital healthcare platform with a network of 70,000 top-tier hospitals and clinics, and more than 100,000 doctors across India. Partners William Chua, Geoffrey Kittredge, Michael Gillespie, Edwin Northover and Gavin Anderson also bring rich India experience.
FOLEY HOAG celebrated a major achievement last year when one of the largest investment treaty arbitrations against India, brought by Nissan Motor, finally concluded in May 2020. The bilateral investment arbitration initiated by Nissan in February 2017 – the first investment treaty case brought by a Japanese investor against India – had involved claims arising out of non-payment of incentives by the Tamil Nadu government.
Nissan had claimed USD776 million in damages and other costs. Foley Hoag represented India, assisting it in reaching a settlement as part of which Nissan received about USD185 million from Tamil Nadu, less than one-third of the claimed amount. The firm has a broad spectrum of India work handling emerging company and venture capital deals, investment management and hedge fund matters, human rights work, employment matters, immigration issues, IP, compliance, M&A and corporate finance. Facebook, Alembic Pharmaceuticals, Virtusa, Sphaera Pharma and Pragnya Group are all clients.
GUNDERSON DETTMER has more than 350 lawyers with a focus on global venture capital and emerging companies. The firm represents more than 2,500 venture-backed companies and 450 of the world’s top venture capital and growth equity firms, co-ordinating deals across its 10 offices in the US, Beijing and Singapore. The firm’s niche expertise is a huge draw for venture clients eager to engage lawyers with their finger on the pulse. Last October, the firm represented FreshToHome, an Indian e-commerce startup that sells fresh produce, in its USD121 million series C financing.
In the same month, it acted for Sequoia Capital India and Tiger Global in their investment in the USD100 million series D financing of Razorpay. This year, the firm was instructed by Sequoia India, Lightspeed India and Greenoaks as co-investors in the USD12.5 million series B financing of Apna.co, a vertical professional networking platform.
K&L GATES earns recognition for its lawyers’ legal acumen and understanding of India. “We find K&L’s attorneys active across a wide range of practice areas including investigations, white-collar crime, employment and regulatory,” says Bharat Anand, a partner at Khaitan & Co, adding: “Pallavi [Wahi Mehta] is a great strategist on India deals”, who can “straddle the India-US legal and cultural divide seamlessly with a smile”. Recent highlights for the firm include: Advising Microsoft on its acquisition of Berlin-based Kinvolk and its subsidiary, Kinvolk Services India; acting for an Indian advertising company in an arbitration against its contractual counterparty; and providing ongoing advice to a major Indian airline on negotiations with an aircraft manufacturer regarding its order valued at USD22 billion.
In addition to Mehta, Aaron Kornblum, global general counsel at Byju’s Future School, endorses Mark Wittow, John Wilson and Jake Bernstein who “distill complex legal matters into straightforward and actionable guidance and results”.
KELLEY DRYE & WARREN has been a familiar name on the India circuit for many years. The firm focuses on corporate and commercial transactions, and international litigation and arbitration. It has supported foreign investors, private and public companies, private equity firms and investment banks on M&A deals, joint ventures, information technology transactions, technology transfers and financing deals.
The firm also advises clients on regulations relating to defence procurement including the International Trade in Arms and Defence Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement. Tech Mahindra engaged the firm on its equity investment in Altiostar, a Boston-based provider of tech and telecoms, and the subsequent sale of its equity interests to Rakuten; and its proposed acquisition of a Colorado-based technology services company. The India practice’s most recent addition is Mitchell Mackler, who previously held senior in-house positions at HCL Technologies and Wipro. Deepak Nambiar is the firm’s India practice chair.
KING & SPALDING has built expertise on international arbitration with an Indian component. The firm is currently representing IGE in an LCIA arbitration against Rakesh Gangwal in relation to the ownership and management of Indian airline IndiGo. It has also been instructed by Reliance in an arbitration seated in New Delhi under the UNCITRAL Arbitration Rules, relating to a production sharing contract with the Indian government, where the other co-claimants are BP Exploration and Niko.
On the non-contentious side, the firm was selected by Novelis, an Aditya Birla Group subsidiary, in the USD330 million sale of its rolled aluminium products business to American Industrial Partners. This year, the firm welcomed three new partners with significant India-related experience: Vincent Rowan (construction and engineering disputes), Ken Beale (international arbitration) and Anthony Patten (oil and gas). Andrew Brereton, Nikhil Markanday, Rahul Patel and Thomas Sprange QC are primary India contacts.
MCDERMOTT WILL & EMERY soars into the Significant Players category after a stellar year on India deals. The firm’s India practice pivots on banking and finance, private client, capital markets, IP litigation, trademarks, patents, food and beverage, healthcare and private equity. The firm represented ICICI Bank on a USD10 billion debt default by GVK Group – one of the largest corporate debt restructurings and a high-profile matter in India. It also represented Renew Power and its CEO, Sumant Sinha, in its merger with RMG SPAC II.
“On social finance, they are one of the leading experts in the world,” says Meyyappan Nagappan, a leader in the international tax practice at Nishith Desai Associates. India practice head Ranajoy Basu is “impressive” and showcases his “experience and persuasive skills” during negotiations, says Nagappan. Bank of India, Zensar Technologies, Indian Oil, State Bank of India, UBS Optimus and Ducati India are all clients.
MORGAN LEWIS offers a robust array of services for inbound and outbound transactions with an Indian element. The firm’s 31 offices work on a spectrum of India-related matters across practice areas, including handling several pandemic-related issues such as immigration, vaccine development and distribution through its life sciences transaction practice. Morgan Lewis represented International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI), a non-profit research organisation. IAVI is collaborating with Merck KGaA and Serum Institute of India to develop SARS-CoV-2 neutralising monoclonal antibodies for potential treatment and prevention of covid-19.
The firm was also Singapore counsel to Edelweiss Alternative Asset Advisors – one of the largest private debt managers in India – in its establishment of a USD350 million fund-of-one for Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan Board. “They have a good understanding of the market and also a grasp of client nuances,” says Khyati Parekh, associate director at Edelweiss Financial Services. “Joel [Seow] is a fine adviser and a counsel one can trust.”
MORRISON & FOERSTER (MOFO) combines in-depth knowledge of the Indian legal and regulatory regimes across multiple business sectors with a commercial and user-friendly approach to help clients navigate the market. The firm acted for BlackRock, a leading investor in edtech company Byju’s series F financing round, and Lodha in its USD225 million senior secured notes offering. The firm advises SoftBank and appeared as its legal counsel on a string of transactions including in its series E investment in social commerce platform Meesho.
“MoFo has a hands-on approach to India and ensures that their clients have the deepest insights possible to every issue,” says Avimukt Dar, a partner at IndusLaw. Dar commends Sunandini Das, who “works round the clock”, and India group leader Amit Kataria, who looks for “known unknowns in documents thereby ensuring his clients have belt-and-braces protection regardless of how documents are negotiated by counterparties”.
PENNINGTONS MANCHES COOPER provides expert advice on immigration, data protection, acquisitions, employment, contractual disputes, trademark matters, joint venture disputes, licensing and more. Samir Oak, general counsel at Tata Advanced Systems, consulted the firm for commercial transactions with UK law implications. Oak recommends Rustam Dubash and Joanne Vengadesan for commercial contracts, IP contracts and advisory skills. Vengadesan is “extremely approachable, able to grasp the finer details of the transaction rather quickly and is adept at separating the key negotiation issues from others,” says Oak.
He was also impressed with Nick Bamber’s advice on possible options to deal with a contentious commercial matter. “Phillip D’Costa … has been exemplary with his response time and understanding of situations,” says Snehashish Bhattacharjee, global CEO at Denave. “Chris Syder … guided us precisely with the right inputs.” Dubash has stepped down as leader of the India group after 25 years. D’Costa and Pat Saini co-head the practice.
SHEPPARD MULLIN RICHTER & HAMPTON has more than 30 lawyers with significant experience advising on legal issues in South Asia. This expertise includes M&A, capital markets, intellectual property, IT litigation, labour and employment, anti-corruption and trade regulation, and general commercial litigation matters. Sheppard Mullin counts Tech Mahindra and Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) among its clients. For more than 20 years, it has assisted TCS with employment law issues including expat compliance training and employment litigation.
The firm “has subject matter expertise along with a cultural understanding that compliments the requirements of Indian clients,” says Navroze Palekar, vice president and global head of legal and compliance at Cyient. Palekar consults the firm for export compliance, international trade matters and disputes in the US. He recommends Robert Friedman (litigation and arbitration), Scott Maberry, Reid Whitten and Fatema Merchant (export compliance and international trade regulations) and James Hays (employment).
SKADDEN is an accomplished player on the India stage, particularly on the finance front. Rajeev Duggal, head of Skadden’s Singapore office, concentrates on M&A, equity and debt capital markets and financial institution representation. Recently, Duggal was part of a team that assisted Mubadala in its USD1.2 billion acquisition of a stake in Jio Platforms, and separately, its USD844 million acquisition of a stake in Reliance Retail Ventures.
Last September, the Permanent Court of Arbitration granted an award in favour of Vodafone in the company’s long-running USD2 billion tax dispute with the Indian government. Skadden was Vodafone’s adviser in the landmark case. The award noted that the Indian government’s insistence on the tax claim, despite the Supreme Court’s 2012 judgment, was in breach of the terms of the bilateral investment treaty. David Kavanagh QC, co-head of Skadden’s global international litigation and arbitration group, is an asset to Indian companies seeking help with their disputes.
TAYLOR WESSING is advising Ola Cabs on a range of UK and European issues, including high-profile employment and gig economy matters. It also seized roles as counsel to US online training company Pluralsight on its Indian launch, to Cipla on contentious and non-contentious commercial matters throughout Europe, and to Indian commodities software giant Eka in relation to contractual disputes with customers. Thomas Gibbs, general counsel for Europe at Sun Pharma, says: “The firm’s understanding of both culture [in India] and the business area puts them towards the top of our list when considering external advice.”
Gibbs says India practice head Laurence Lieberman offers advice that is both practical and to the point, and his commercial approach has “helped de-escalate certain disputes, and he has also taken up the mantle where we have good cause”. In April, the firm bolstered its India group with the hire of life sciences expert Andrew Edge from Stephenson Harwood.
In a short space of time, THREE CROWNS (3C) has established itself as a preeminent law firm for international arbitration and public international law. The firm prides itself on providing a unique blend of experience, creativity, forensic skill and advocacy. It is currently advising a multinational telecoms company on potential investment treaty claims against India arising out of the 2G scandal. 3C also acted on behalf of a major real estate development company in a London-seated ICC arbitration pertaining to disputes arising from a suite of Indian law-governed agreements linked to a terminated joint venture in India.
Three Crowns is a “top-notch, market-leading practice with some of the most respected senior partners,” says Montek Mayal, senior managing director and practice leader for India economic consulting at FTI Consulting. Mayal has instructed 3C on complex, high-value cross-border disputes. Manish Aggarwal, Gaetan Verhoosel, Constantine Partasides and Leilah Bruton are highly respected.
WATSON FARLEY & WILIAMS (WFW) has honed its expertise in aviation, oil and gas, projects, employment and immigration, and regularly acts on transactions in these sectors from its primary India-focused hubs in London, Singapore and Dubai. One of its key assignments was acting for IndiGo in relation to the leasing of seven aircraft from DAE (Ireland) or any of its subsidiaries, as lessor. On the employment side, WFW routinely advises on the human resource and immigration law aspects of transferring senior employees and directors from India to other jurisdictions. The firm profits from a full-service finance practice, supporting clients on cross‑border asset and project financing, refinancing, restructuring and workouts. WFW is particularly well known for its work on financings that involve export credit agencies. The firm’s finance expertise compliments its corporate practice where it handles M&A, joint ventures, private equity and corporate structuring.
REGIONAL & SPECIALIST
Firms are listed in alphabetical order.
ALLEN & GLEDHILL has acted on a variety of India-related matters across practice areas including cross-border investments, M&A, real estate, private equity, technology, litigation and international arbitration. Last November, Sequoia Capital India turned to the firm for advice when it was the co-lead investor on a USD22.5 million series A financing of ShopUp, a Bangladesh-based B2B commerce platform. The deal was Bangladesh’s largest series A funding round and Sequoia India’s first investment in Bangladesh. Sequoia India engaged the firm again this year when it was the lead investor on the USD65 million series D financing of Bibit, an Indonesian-based digital investment app.
The firm was also called on to represent SIG on Mobile Premier League’s (MPL) USD90 million series C financing round. MPL is an e-sports and online gaming company owned by Bengaluru-based Galactus Funware Technology. Ankit Goyal, Leonard Ching, Vivekananda Neelakantan and Tan Su May are key India contacts.
ANDERSON MORI & TOMOTSUNE (AMT) has abundant transactional experience in the India-Japan corridor. The firm recently represented a Japanese machinery company on its USD45 million purchase of an Indian entity engaged in the manufacturing and sale of cleanroom components in India. It was also instructed by a Japanese healthcare company that invested in an Indian health-related business. Ryo Kotoura leads the India practice and regularly advises domestic clients on their expansions in India and South Asia, on the establishment and operation of local subsidiaries, the setup of branches and liaison offices, joint ventures and acquisitions of local companies, employment management, IP and litigation. “AMT in Japan has a wealth of knowledge and experience for India-related work,” says Tsuyoshi Hasegawa, deputy manager for HR and admin at Nippon Express Bangladesh. Hasegawa believes the firm is “much better” than its peers, and says Kotoura “is like a working compendium of Indian and Japanese laws”.
APPLEBY is head and shoulders above its rivals in terms of capital markets expertise and popularity among Indian clients seeking Mauritius law advice. The firm was a hive of activity in the past year, assisting on MakeMyTrip’s USD200 million issue of 0% interest convertible senior notes due 2028, and IRB Infrastructure Developers’ USD300 million 5.5% senior secured notes due 2024, issued by Mauritius-based India Toll Roads. “Appleby is one of the top Mauritius law firms,” says Rajiv Gupta, a partner at Latham & Watkins who has worked with the firm on debt and equity issues. “Malcolm Moller is our top choice … and one of the best counsel in Mauritius.” Kelly Teoh, an associate at Latham & Watkins, has worked with Moller on capital markets and M&A transactions involving Indian-based business with Mauritius holding companies. “It’s hard for me to imagine working with any other lawyer on these deals,” says Teoh.
BSA AHMAD BIN HEZEEM & ASSOCIATES has more than 120 lawyers spread over nine offices across the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Iraq and Lebanon. Anand Singh leads the India desk and specialises in advising insurance companies, reinsurers, insurance brokers and agents on incorporation, distribution strategy, regulatory, compliance and other matters. BSA was engaged to assist Gulf Petrochem FZC, a multinational company with multiple subsidiaries in India, on its insolvency-related restructuring.
The deal required a multipronged approach in order to address corporate restructuring, intellectual property, cybersecurity, litigation, insolvency, insurance, commercial contracts, maritime contracts and other issues. Other highlights include assisting BookMyShow, an online ticketing company headquartered in India, on its operations in UAE and Saudi Arabia. Gaurav Malhotra, associate vice president for legal and compliance at Tata AIA, endorses Anand Singh for his “professionalism and solution-oriented approach”, while Tem Nathan, general counsel at Stockal adds that Singh is “approachable and punctilious”.
CLYDE & CO CLASIS is a strong competitor for dispute resolution mandates at the SIAC. The firm was counsel to an Indian logistics company and its shareholders and promoters in arbitration proceedings arising out of three Indian agreements governed by Indian law against a Japanese logistics company. The case, which began in February 2019, is ongoing, however Clyde & Co made strides in consolidating the three disputes into one arbitration, despite objections by the opposing parties.
The firm also assisted its client in securing third-party funding to cover the legal costs of proceedings. “Clyde & Co Clasis stands out in disputes, aviation and insurance,” says Haigreve Khaitan, a senior partner at Khaitan & Co. Sumeet Lall, a partner at CSL Chambers, says clients appreciate the firm’s “in-depth market knowledge, superior negotiation skills [and] result-oriented approach”. Prakash Pillai and Sapna Jhangiani QC are key India contacts.
Boutique Singapore law firm COLLYER LAW focuses primarily on supporting emerging growth companies and the innovation economy from “cradle to exit”. Memorable mandates in the past year include advising Singapore-based India Housing for All on negotiations and documentation on a joint investment and development agreement and related transaction documents to develop low-cost housing projects in India. The firm also represented Veative Labs in the sale of all intellectual property, and the sale and purchase of the entire share capital of its Indian subsidiary, Veative Labs, to Dev Clever Holdings. Veative Labs is a global provider of education technology and learning simulations for schools and industries, using immersive technologies such as 3D, virtual reality, augmented reality and mixed reality. Collyer is also active on the contentious front, assisting clients on IP infringement and shareholder disputes. Managing partner Azmul Haque is a key contact for India matters.
The technology team at CORRS CHAMBERS WESTGARTH is one of the firm’s key groups pursuing India-related work. Most of India’s large technology consulting firms have significant regional headquarters in Australia, and managing their legal requirements keeps Corrs busy. The firm delivers advice on infrastructure, energy and resources, with a particular understanding of water assets, coal and public private partnerships. In addition, the firm has a promising education practice, where it caters to Australian educational institutions entering and operating in India. Corrs is currently advising the Commonwealth Bank of Australia in relation to litigation in Madras High Court.
It also provides significant assistance to the Asha Society in Delhi, which supports more than 700,000 slum dwellers through healthcare, education, empowerment, financial inclusion and environmental improvements. “They are reliable and we had a high level of success on our engagements with them,” says Sandesh Bilagi, the COO of Ramko. “We rate them very highly.”
DENTONS RODYK DAVIDSON’s India practice advises local and foreign businesses on their investments in Singapore, India and the region across technology, building and construction, maritime and finance. The firm has been representing an energy client on its rights under an operating agreement with its Indian joint venture partner, and on its potential arbitration strategy following a default on a cash call by the Indian party.
On the private equity front, Dentons was counsel to Vertex Ventures, the venture capital subsidiary of Temasek Holdings, in a series A investment in Bengaluru-based healthcare startup IVF Access. In another deal, a team led by Sunil Rai advised GGV Capital on its participation in a USD280 million fundraising for the B2B e-commerce platform, Udaan. The fundraising follows Udaan’s USD585 million series D investment round, which included GGV capital as one of the investors. Ray Chiang represented Udaan on the deal.
Cavinder Bull leads the India desk at DREW & NAPIER with support from a large team of lawyers who specialise in dispute resolution, corporate restructuring, M&A, finance, corporate matters, tax and private client work. Director Foo Yuet Min was recently appointed as a steering committee member of Young MCIA (Mumbai Centre for International Arbitration), which creates networks among young professionals to promote and support innovation in arbitration.
Last year, Drew & Napier united with Malaysian firm Shearn Delamore & Co and Indonesian firm Makarim & Taira S to form a network of blue-chip law firms – Drew Network Asia. The firm continues to represent DyStar Global Holdings in proceedings before the Singapore International Commercial Court, Singapore High Court and the Singapore Court of Appeal against its Indian-listed minority shareholder, Kiri Industries. The multi-jurisdictional matter involves multiple breaches of a shareholder agreement by Kiri in Japan, Sri Lanka, Iran, Brazil, Bangladesh and Pakistan.
Clients speak enthusiastically of DUANE MORRIS & SELVAM’s expertise and work ethic. “Duane Morris has always provided us with the highest quality of work,” says Sushmita Gandhi, a partner at IndusLaw. “Its lawyers are extremely thorough, pragmatic and dedicated in their approach, which sets them apart from other international law firms.” Duane Morris was legal counsel to Axis Capital, Nomura Financial Advisory and Securities, and UBS Securities on the USD80 million sale of equity shares in Affle India in a QIP, including concurrent private placements outside India.
It also clinched a role as adviser to an Indian conglomerate on its oil and gas downstream ventures in Southeast Asia. Yogesh Pandey, a legal consultant at ONGC Videsh, commends Priyank Srivastava for his “exceptional commercial sense, wisdom and experience”, and “excellent knowledge of energy and oil and gas matters”. Capital markets expert Jamie Benson also has vast experience on India deals.
ENSAFRICA has built a lively India practice to facilitate the entry and expansion of Indian corporates into Africa, and African corporates into India. Indian Hotels Company (IHCL) sought the firm’s advice when it acquired 50% of the holding of Taj Palace Cape Town from Tata Africa Holdings. The transaction resulted in the Taj Palace Cape Town becoming wholly owned by IHCL. The firm is also assisting Indian pharmaceutical company Zydus Cadila on the filing, prosecution and enforcement of trademarks in various African countries. In addition, it successfully executed a strategy to assist Dr Reddy’s Laboratories on the launch of a generic pharmaceutical in South Africa. It leveraged South African patent revocation proceedings to secure the product launch in various markets where the patent appeared to be potentially problematic.
“Every strategy is custom made for the client,” says Gunjan Paharia, the managing partner at ZeusIP, who endorses Gaelyn Scott, Delene Bertasso and Ilse du Plessis.
Indian companies seeking to enlarge their footprint in Italy are relying on the expertise of GIANNI & ORIGONI. A recent highlight saw the firm advise TVS Group on its acquisition of a minority stake in Italian company Mind, a composite materials manufacturer in the auto space. The investment allows for knowledge sharing in relation to manufacturing, control systems and process automation, particularly in relation to Mind’s composite manufacturing capabilities. Gianni was also counsel to Hitachi in the sale of Hitachi Industrial Engineering EMEA to Tech Mahindra, and the signing of a long-term service contract with Hitachi Rail. “They are a top-class firm,” says Jhunjhunwala of Khaitan & Co.
“They are more business results-oriented compared to other firms.” Jhunjhunwala points to the firm’s extensive network, saying that “their best friends are the best on the market”. Rosario Zaccà is a primary contact.
HEUKING KÜHN LÜER WOJTEK has maintained a commitment to India for many years, closing important deals between Indian and German parties. Martin Imhof spearheads the India desk and offers expert advice on corporate and M&A matters, trade, IT and IP. The firm recently took on the largest patent infringement case it has ever dealt with, representing Varroc Group, an India-based global auto component maker employing more than 14,200 employees in 37 global manufacturing facilities. Heuking is advising the lighting systems division in its defence against alleged patent infringement claims raised by French company Valeo Vision, which has launched 10 separate cases. On the transactional side, the firm acted for Arlanxeo in its sourcing of IT services from Infosys.
“They seem to understand and appreciate the Indian client mindset of providing commercially sound legal advice in a cost-effective manner,” says Manav Raheja, a partner at Veritas Legal. Raheja says Imhof provides “practical, experience-based advice”.
KOBRE & KIM focuses exclusively on disputes and investigations, assisting companies on international fraud and misconduct. The firm frequently represents India and Asia-based clients in internal investigations and government enforcement actions that involve US authorities.
The Asia team is led by four former US government lawyers who have served as US Department of Justice prosecutors and US Securities and Exchange Commission enforcement lawyers. Kobre & Kim recently represented a senior-level executive of a global investment bank in connection with pending money laundering and foreign exchange investigations in India. The firm also advised the trial team representing a former CFO of an American multinational charged in the US Federal District Court with Foreign Corrupt Practices Act violations for allegedly approving the payment of bribes in India.
The firm has also represented ultra-high-net-worth individuals and their family members in India extradition requests. Vasu Muthyala plays a leading role in the firm’s India-related business.
MORI HAMADA & MATSUMOTO (MHM) is one of Japan’s largest law firms. Chisako Takaya, Yohei Koyama and Kenichi Sekiguchi have all been seconded to Indian law firms in the past and are key members of the India practice, which operates from Tokyo and Singapore. Koyama “has excellent commercial acumen, understands the clients’ needs … and understands the Indian market very well”, says Rudra Pandey, head of the Japan desk at Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas & Co. The firm has been a hive of recent activity, advising Japanese company Kubota on its acquisition of a 9.1% stake in Indian tractor manufacturer Escorts, and providing ongoing assistance to Sumitomo Realty & Development on the acquisition and development of a land parcel in Mumbai. Charandeep Kaur, a partner at Trilegal, says: “MHM is definitely on par with the largest international law firms when it comes to their experience, depth and network for servicing clients in India.”
For many years, NAGASHIMA OHNO & TSUNEMATSU has provided legal support to Japanese companies exploring investments in India. Key India team members are Masayuki Fukuda, Tadashi Yamamoto, Yoshikazu Hasegawa and Rashmi Grover. Like its counterparts, Nagashima has profited from sending its lawyers to Indian firms on secondments.
The firm was an adviser to Daiichi Sankyo in its long-running dispute with the former promoters of Ranbaxy, Malvinder Singh and Shivinder Singh. The Supreme Court of Singapore dismissed an appeal by the former promoters against a high court order that had declined to set aside an April 2016 arbitration award reached in favour of Daiichi. An International Chamber of Commerce arbitration tribunal had awarded damages of about INR35 billion (USD479 million) to Daiichi after the Japanese company proved concealment of facts and misrepresentation in inducing it to buy a controlling stake in Ranbaxy. The award is now enforceable in both India and Singapore.
NISHIMURA & ASAHI is Japan’s largest law firm and the final Japanese law firm in our Regional and Specialist category. The firm has experience with complex deals relating to India including joint venture partnerships, M&A, compliance, crisis management, tax and dispute resolution. Nishimura offers Indian corporates cross-jurisdictional expertise through its offices in Bangkok, Beijing, Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, New York, Shanghai, Singapore, Taipei and Yangon. Clients also benefit from its affiliations with law firms in Dubai, Hong Kong and Jakarta. Last year, Japanese e-commerce company MonotaRO signed a joint venture agreement with Emtex Engineering, which owns the B2B e-commerce platform Industrybuying. MonotaRO invested USD15 million to pick up a 51.6% stake in the joint venture. Nishimura & Asahi advised MonotaRO on the transaction led by partner Taeko Suzuki, with support from Isha Shah. MonotaRO intends to grow its business in India by using Industrybuying’s e-commerce infrastructure.
RAJAH & TANN offers commercial and legal expertise with local knowledge of Asia. The firm is prominent on contentious and non-contentious matters with an India link. In the disputes space, it was counsel to Vedanta Resources in two matters relating to a Singapore-seated treaty arbitration arising from its claims of more than USD3 billion against India. It was also instructed as one of three treaty arbitrators presiding over Khaitan Holdings Mauritius (KHML) v India. KHML is seeking more than USD1 billion in damages for 2G licences in which it had invested, which were cancelled by the Supreme Court of India. Rajah & Tann “has provided us with prompt services and advisory during the course of our arbitration matter”, says Alok Kaura, senior vice president of commercial at Isgec Heavy Engineering. Sriram Chakravarthi joined Rajah & Tann in January this year and will focus on serving clients across South Asia including India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.
SHOOK LIN & BOK has consistently delivered on India-related deals and disputes from Singapore. In a recent deal, the firm assisted a Singapore-based real estate sponsor on the INR4.25 billion and INR6.25 billion green finance facilities granted to project companies in India for the development of two green certified business parks that implement sustainable measures in their construction and operation. It also successfully acted for an Indian agriculture and fertiliser co-operative in arbitration proceedings against its Australian joint venture partner company, a Delaware company, and the controller of the joint venture partner company.
Saurabh Bansal, assistant vice president for project and structured finance at Cube Highways and Transportation Assets Advisors, finds Shook Lin “very professional and diligent compared to other international law firms”. Clients say Sarjit Singh Gill stands out for his experience in litigation and disputes, while Aditi Mathur and David Chong are both “impressive”.
TLT has cultivated strong relationships with the majority of public sector and private Indian banks in the past three decades. The firm easily scores roles on lending transactions but also picks up associated litigation mandates in areas such as payment frauds, insolvencies and restructuring. TLT is currently advising IDBI Bank in relation to the enforcement of a USD200 million loan facility for the construction of two oil rigs. The firm is renowned for its banking and finance repertoire in the UK, but has strived to broaden its portfolio and is snapping up roles on corporate lending, refinancing, financial crime, outsourcing, data protection and regulatory matters. Paul Gair and Kanika Kitchlu-Connolly are partners and co-heads of TLT’s India group.
The firm recently welcomed Anand Verma to join the firm in London as a foreign qualified lawyer on its India desk. Verma formerly worked at IndusLaw and ICICI Bank, where he managed corporate lending transactions.
FIRMS TO WATCH
Firms are listed in alphabetical order.
AKIN GUMP offers strong capabilities in emerging markets and private equity deals. The practice places special emphasis on representing investment funds investing in India, both on their fund structuring and transactional work. Akin Gump has also been an adviser on many cross-border deals with an Indian element including M&A, joint ventures, capital markets transactions, international trade matters and infrastructure projects. Divya Thakur, Christhy Vidal, Thomas John Holton and Robert Griffin have a solid track record on India-related assignments. Prakash Mehta heads the India team.
BAKER HOSTETLER assist both large and mid-sized Indian companies in the protection and monetisation of their IP assets in the US and globally. It complements these services with expertise on regulatory, business, corporate and tax law. A highlight was acting for appScatter in its combination with Airpush in a deal, which allowed the combined company to support mobile app developers throughout the entire app development life cycle.
The deal involved parties in India, China and a number of countries in Europe. In addition, the firm is representing a US-based company forming a joint venture in India for outsourcing services. “Tayan Patel manages our work … and can be trusted for incisive and frank advice on any matter,” says Pankaj Soni, a partner at Remfry & Sagar. “His broad perspective on IP and related issues is strengthened by his deep knowledge of US laws.” Soni also recommends Hussein Akhavannik who is a “well-regarded practitioner”.
Indian firms speak highly of BRYAN CAVE LEIGHTON PAISNER. Vihang Virkar, a partner at PDS Legal, has worked with the firm on cross-border M&A and aircraft financing. “[Bryan Cave] offers high quality, legally sound and yet commercially viable advice,” he says. “Clients can expect a dedicated and hardworking team being involved on all matters, whether small or large. They also understand the cultural nuances of dealing with Indian promoters.”
Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner is handling a dispute with a major Indian pharmaceutical group and acting for the company in an ICC arbitration which has arisen under a long-term toll manufacturing agreement. It is also pursuing patent protection in India for an invention used to treat cancer. Jonathan Morris, John Welge, George Burn and Jamie Wiseman-Clarke are known for their “familiarity with the Indian market”, “legal expertise” and “commercial approach”. Jinal Shah, the former India group practice head at Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe, is the newest addition to the firm.
FENWICK & WEST is well-equipped to counsel companies on transactions and disputes involving Indian entities. It has particular strengths in the technology sector through its corporate and intellectual property practices, representing clients on cross-border transactions in industries such as software and IT (including e-commerce, mobile, internet, electronics and security), life sciences, and clean technology.
This year, the firm offered US law advice to Manthan Software when it acquired San Francisco-based Rich Relevance, a company that offers personalised shopping experiences for large retail brands. The deal resulted in the merged entities forming Algonomy, which will use algorithms to offer similar personalised shopping experiences. Fenwick’s past India-based clients include Reliance Industries, Tata, InMobi, SMS GupShup and Druva Software. The firm has also assisted US companies such as Cisco Systems, Symantec and Synopsys, which have significant operations in India. Rajiv Patel is a primary contact.
HUGHES HUBBARD REED CLINCHED roles on a number of India-related deals over the past 12 months. Last September, the firm advised Infosys in its acquisition of product design and development company Kaleidoscope Innovation, which specialises in the medical, consumer and industrial markets. The following month, it represented loyal client Wipro in its USD80 million purchase of engineering services company Eximius Design. This year, Wipro turned to Hughes Hubbard when it acquired British tech consultancy firm Capco for USD1.45 billion. The acquisition will give Wipro access to 30 new large banking and financial clients and make Wipro one of the largest end-to-end global consulting, technology service providers in that industry.
Ohio-based KEGLER BROWN HILL & RITTER has carved out a niche for itself as an adviser to Indian companies in the American Midwest. The firm has cultivated deep-rooted relationships in the healthcare, technology, software, education and big data industries. Kegler has worked with generic pharmaceutical company Strides USA on several transactions the past year, including advising it on a USD60 million syndicated credit facility with an American multinational financial services company.
It also led the asset acquisition of Micelle Biopharma and was lead counsel for the FTC ordered divestiture in the Upjohn-Mylan merger. Heena Shah, chief people officer at MES, says the firm assists with all legal matters in India including company registrations, stock transfers and ownership issues. “They are very detailed and straight to the point,” says Shah. “Vinita Mehra is very knowledgeable and forthcoming in her advice and guidance. The clarity of her thought process is truly appreciated.” Mehra is qualified to practice in India and Ohio.
KILPATRICK TOWNSEND & STOCKTON makes its debut in our rankings this year after attracting a steady stream of India-related assignments. The firm advised American CyberSystems with two acquisitions this year, which involved Indian subsidiaries. Kilpatrick also assisted Oportun, ESRI, Redflex Traffic Systems, Zoom Video Communications and J Crew on matters involving the structuring, setup and operations of their Indian subsidiaries. On the IP front, the firm helped its clients file 158 patent applications and 179 trademark applications in India.
The firm consists of over 600 lawyers across 21 offices in the US and in Beijing, Shanghai, Stockholm and Tokyo. The return of Sonia Baldia last year to the technology, privacy and cybersecurity team was a boost for Kilpatrick’s India group. Baldia was a partner at the firm from 2013 to 2015 before moving to Baker McKenzie where she was co-leader of the India practice in North America. Other key India contacts are Michael Cochran, Mark Riedy, Wab Kadaba, Mansi Shah and Sujit Kotwal.
Labour and employment law specialist LITTLER is a new entrant in our Firms to watch category. With an unparalleled focus on employment matters, the firm offers niche expertise and a talent pool that understands the nuances that shape the workplace. Littler brings vast experience across the spectrum, advising clients on compensation, compliance, discrimination, safety, training, restructuring, whistleblowing and more.
Key mandates over the past 12 months include: an ethics investigation prompted by internal complaints of harassment, bullying and financial improprieties at the India facility of a US multinational automotive company; and advising on pandemic-related staff reduction measures at the India facility of a US aerospace company.
“Littler’s services are consistently strong and I would recommend Mr Trent Sutton for employment matters to other companies expanding into APAC,” says Julie Kleeman, senior vice president and deputy general counsel at The Trade Desk. India-qualified Isha Malhotra joined the firm in March as an ofcounsel in Singapore.
MISHCON DE REYA has represented Indian clients in a wide variety of disciplines, as they navigate their way into the UK and Europe. It also has a long history of advising UK and European businesses on their entry into India. In 2019, the firm launched MDR Brand Management, a global brand management business created to address the growing complexity that brand owners face in the global marketplace. MDR announced in November that it would open three new offices in Bengaluru, Delhi and Mumbai, taking MDR’s network to 20 locations.
Last December, Mishcon’s insolvency team and sports group successfully defended the former joint administrators of the Force India Formula One team in the High Court of Justice. A multi-million pound claim was brought against the administrators by PJSC Uralkali, an unsuccessful bidder who accused Mishcon’s clients of running a biased bidding process without a level playing field and allegedly disclosing confidential information, among other things. The court dismissed all of Uralkali’s claims.
Much of ORRICK HERRINGTON & SUTCLIFFE’s India-related work takes place in and out of Europe under the leadership of Abhijit Narayan. The firm advises clients on M&A, employment, disputes and funding requirements.
Over the past 12 months, Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe advised: an Indian company on the proposed acquisition of an engineering distribution company in Germany; an Indian startup on its series C funding round; a French company on issues relating to its joint venture in India; and a large Indian tyre manufacturer on privacy-related issues in the US.
Dispute resolution boutique PCB BYRNE specialises in banking and financial services disputes, civil fraud and asset recovery, corporate and financial crime, regulatory and compliance, commercial litigation and arbitration. Priyanka Kapoor, who is dual qualified in India and England and Wales, leads the Middle East and Asia practices at the firm. Kapoor regularly advises multinational companies, businesses and entrepreneurs on transactions and disputes relating to activities in India, Asia and the Middle East. The firm has strong relations with Indian banks, having acted for them in various regulatory matters involving multi-jurisdictional regulators and enforcement agencies. Kapoor offers strategic advice in matters involving bribery and corruption allegations and investigations under the UK Bribery Act and the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, anti-money laundering and cybercrime.
SIMMONS & SIMMONS focuses on four main sectors: asset management and investment funds, financial institutions, healthcare and life sciences, and technology, media and telecommunicatons (TMT). This sector expertise has allowed the firm to work on a number of private equity investments, equity and debt capital markets, derivatives and structured products and TMT projects, including within the ever-growing fintech and e-commerce space.
Simmons advised Eternis Fine Chemicals, an aroma chemical manufacturer headquartered in Mumbai, on the acquisition of the entire share capital of Tennants Fine Chemicals, the largest primary manufacturer of specialty aroma chemicals in the UK, along with its subsidiaries in Singapore and China. It also acted for Sterlite Technologies on its dispute with Global Emirates Cables & System Factory and other cable buyers in relation to claims under a suite of contracts for the supply of optic fibre cables. Shashwat Patel heads the India group.
REGIONAL FIRMS TO WATCH
Firms are listed in alphabetical order.
Ashish Jejurker, an India-qualified partner at Japanese firm ATSUMI & SAKAI co-ordinates the firm’s India effort. The firm was recently engaged by a Japanese manufacturer on a joint venture with an Indian distributor to manufacture and distribute non-destructive testing and marking products in India. Atsumi also provided labour law advice to the Japanese subsidiary of an Indian company, reviewed and negotiated business contracts for Indian clients, and conducted anti-dumping investigations.
CP Bothra, chairman of Lyrus Life Sciences, has worked with Jejurkar for a long time and describes him as “very intelligent, hardworking and results-oriented”.
BOWMANS captures India assignments from its offices in Nairobi, Kampala, Dar es Salaam, Cape Town, Durban, Johannesburg and Mauritius. The firm has developed a strong fintech sector focus, which consistently draws on the commercial synergies that Indian and African commercial players face when launching and scaling platform payment and other products and services in emerging markets. “They stand very tall in the South African legal space and are very international and innovative,” says Cyril Shroff, managing partner at Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas. “Ezra David is the standout partner.”
Companies using Cyprus as a gateway for investment both into and out of India count on on ELIAS NEOCLEOUS for corporate and tax advice. Earlier this year the firm was counsel to the Trafigura-UCP consortium on the restructuring of a USD12.9 billion facility in relation to the purchase of India’s Essar Oil. The facility was provided in 2017 by a consortium including Trafigura, one of the largest physical commodities trading groups in the world, UCP Investment Group, a private investment group, and Rosneft, the leader of Russia’s petroleum industry.
In another deal, the firm advised Indian e-commerce furniture retailer Pepperfry, on the re-domiciling of a Cyprus entity to Mauritius. In addition, Elias provides recurring legal assistance to a large Scandinavian corporate client in the healthcare sector in relation to its investment activities in hospitals and diagnostic centres in India.
Bangladeshi law firm FAROOQ & ASSOCIATES represents advising Indian investors on project finance, M&A, employment, tax and other civil matters. In the past year, it has also developed considerable experience on gaming and gambling laws, and media and cyber laws. Recent accomplishments include acting as counsel to Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone on the implementation of an Indian economic zone in Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Shilpa Nagar in Bangladesh through a special purpose joint venture company formed with the Bangladesh Economic Zones Authority.
The firm advised another joint venture special purpose vehicle company, Reliance Bangladesh LNG & Power, in which Reliance Power owns a 51% stake, on a 745MW liquefied natural gas-fired combined-cycle power plant in Bangladesh. The deal is one of India’s largest foreign direct investments in the Bangladesh power sector. Farooq also provides Bharti Airtel with general advice and assists on various matters relating to their operations in Bangladesh.
HENGELER MUELLER is a popular choice for companies seeking investment opportunities in the Indo-German and Indo-European corridor. Hengeler represented the German subsidiary of an Indian conglomerate in a lawsuit against its insurer in relation to product liability claims asserted by a car manufacturer. Based on the court’s preliminary assessment of the case, the firm was able to obtain a favorable settlement for its client. It has also advised an Indian industrial company on a technical collaboration with a German company, and provided guidance on restructuring, employment matters and antitrust law for Indian conglomerates. Daniela Favoccia, Carsten van de Sande and Amit Datta are principal contacts for India.
Brazilian firm LEVY & SALOMÃO has assisted Novelis Group, a subsidiary of the Hindalco Group, in connection with finance-related deals for the past 15 years. Banking partner Luiz Roberto de Assis has led this work with assistance from associate Fábio Kupfermann Rodarte.
This year, Novelis Sheet Ingot completed the issue and sale of EUR500 million 3.375% coupon senior green notes due 2029. The deal was guaranteed, jointly and severally on a senior unsecured basis by Novelis and by certain subsidiaries, including its Brazilian one – Novelis do Brasil. Levy also advised Novelis do Brasil as one of the guarantors on the repayment of a USD500 million term loan borrowed by Novelis following a refinancing amendment to the credit agreement in March.
UK law firm ROYDS WITHY KING brings significant experience in the banking sector where it has advised the UK branches of Indian banks on commercial loans, syndicated loans, bank-to-bank loans and property and development loans.
The firm has been busy on a number of contentious matters, one of which included acting for Punjab National Bank against Jarc Shipping and Boris Shipping and six Indian individual guarantors in relation to USD19.5 million in facilities given to the borrower companies to support a vessel’s shipyard business. Judgment was obtained in a UK court in late June 2019 with cross-border enforcement continuing into early 2021 in partnership with Indian law firm, Supreme Law. Anindita Ganguly, a principal associate at IndusLaw, has engaged the firm for various cross-border deals ranging from bankruptcy and insolvency to debt restructuring, financing, and refinancing.
“They are terrific in their attention to detail and turnaround time,” says Ganguly. Milan Kapadia is “an excellent lawyer … meticulous, very responsive, and hands-on with his client dealings.”
URIA MENENDEZ has a dedicated India practice, which has assisted international clients investing in India as well as Indian clients on their investments and projects across Spain, Portugal and Latin America. In a recent deal, the firm assisted Novus International on its sale to German group EW Nutrition, a global provider of animal nutrition solutions. EW Nutrition has acquired the Feed Quality and Pigments business from Novus in 15 jurisdictions including India.
“Uria offers an interesting value proposition to Indian companies, with full coverage of South America and the Iberian peninsula and also through its European network,” says Jhunjhunwala of Khaitan & Co. “Jorge Marti, with his knowledge of India, has made a name for himself among Indian in-house counsel as one of the go-to persons for outbound work in regions covered by his firm.”