As business and travel edge back to normal after the pandemic, which foreign law firms are leading the field with their India offerings? Vandana Chatlani finds out
ollowing a swift recovery from the global pandemic, foreign lawyers went from strength to strength concluding record-breaking deals and resolving complex clashes between businesses and governments.
Law firms pushed boundaries to achieve deals that were the biggest, best and market firsts. India’s renewable sector saw its biggest acquisition when Adani Green Energy purchased SB Energy’s 5GW India renewable power portfolio for USD3.5 billion; ReNew Power’s listing through a combination with RMG Acquisition Corporation II heralded the first de-SPAC transaction and Nasdaq listing by an Indian renewable company; Life Insurance Corporation of India closed a landmark USD2.7 billion IPO; and a USD40 billion merger between HDFC Bank and HDFC promises to be the largest M&A deal in India’s history.
Both companies and their legal advisers are navigating an investment climate that swings between stability and upheaval. While global recovery from the pandemic has meant business as usual, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has cost thousands of innocent lives, sparked serious security threats, and resulted in disrupted supply chains and soaring prices of food and energy. On the legal front, the conflict has led to an exodus of international law firms from Moscow and the closure of offices in Ukraine. As economists and political analysts focus on the fallout of the war, lawyers examine risk mitigation options and focus on emerging practice areas that remain buoyant.
The demand for expertise in environmental sustainability, artificial intelligence, technology and cryptocurrency, among other sectors, has kept lawyers on their toes, while the creative energy of India’s booming startup culture provides promising opportunities for international investors.
Firms are also paying closer attention to diversity and inclusion (D&I). Allen & Overy has partnered with non-profit organisation Increasing Diversity by Increasing Access to sponsor and mentor scholars from the programme in its Singapore office. Fieldfisher runs a career-focused partnership with Queen Mary’s University London where a selection of second-year law students from underrepresented ethnicities take part in a skills workshop curriculum, which includes CV building, interview skills, networking and commercial awareness. Fladgate has introduced targets in the areas of gender, ethnicity, LGBTQ+, and inclusivity for many years and continues to address and build awareness of D&I issues from multiple perspectives. It recently adopted the Halo Code – championing the rights of colleagues to wear Afro-textured hair with pride and pledging to fight hair discrimination. K&L Gates introduced a diversity hours policy last October where lawyers can count up to 50 hours of time spent on D&I work (such as mentoring or assisting in the recruitment of diverse or women candidates) towards their annual threshold for bonuses.
While challenges persist, global businesses and their legal counsel remain driven to resolve complex disputes and close cutting-edge deals to bring their Indian ambitions to fruition.
As geopolitical, legal and regulatory forces thrash and collide, businesses are finding ways to hold tight and navigate through rough seas. It is against this setting that India Business Law Journal reveals the India-related achievements and activities of law firms around the world. Our report, now in its 16th year, draws on an analysis of more than 600 law firms from every continent that have recorded deals and disputes with an Indian connection in the past 12 months. Our results are based on meticulous research, vast 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 combed through 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 and the Cayman Islands. We highlight 20 firms in this category that are ambitious, committed and well-tooled to secure roles on India-related assignments.
We further identify 19 firms to watch and 13 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 cultivated specialist knowledge, boasting strong capabilities across industries, and creating regional networks to assist India-focused clients with contentious and non-contentious needs. We believe, on the evidence available, that these firms are committed to India and keen to enhance their market knowledge for clients.
All the lists are in alphabetical order. Beyond deals, Indian clients also have vast choice when it comes to resolving disputes, as evidenced by the rise of litigators and arbitration specialists with Indian experience across all our categories.
Two new firms enter our top 15; Cleary Gottlieb and Kirkland & Ellis. Both have showcased their excellence and clout in transactional and contentious matters over the past year. The top table comprises law firms that have handled sophisticated mandates, disputes and projects, earning the respect and trust of clients and peers as a result of their wide-ranging 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 innovative and landmark deals.
The desire for growth and development shows no sign of waning and thus competition between foreign law firms remains fierce. Lawyers must keep pace and sharpen their toolkits to stay relevant and reap rewards in India’s colourful, chaotic commercial landscape.
TOP 15 foreign firms
Firms are listed in alphabetical order.
ALLEN & OVERY’s dedicated India group comprises more than 100 partners and associates based primarily in its London, Hong Kong and Singapore offices. The firm is lauded by peers and clients, and has an enviable reputation across practice areas opening consistent opportunities on innovative, high-stakes transactions and complex disputes. Last year it was counsel to arrangers of the USD1.1 billion financing leveraged buyout of Mphasis by BCP Topco IX, a Singapore vehicle controlled by The Blackstone Group.
More recently, it advised Indian Railway Finance Corporation on its Reg S offering of USD500 million 3.57% notes due 2032. The firm also continues to represent BG and Reliance Industries in a long-running London-seated arbitration against India’s government under the UNCITRAL Arbitration Rules 1976. Among diversity, equality and inclusion initiatives for India this year, the firm is partnering with non-profit organisation Increasing Diversity by Increasing Access (IDIA), sponsoring internships and mentor IDIA scholars in its Singapore office. Joint managing partner for Singapore Gautam Narasimhan, partners Pallavi Gopinath Aney and Sheila Ahuja, and counsel Rishi Hindocha are India experts.
Enthusiastic praise from clients underlines BAKER McKENZIE’s clout across practice areas. “They know India tremendously well,” says Bahram Vakil, a founding partner at AZB & Partners. Yash Asher, a partner and head of capital markets at Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas, praises the firm’s “exceptional project management skills on complex cross-border transactions”. Recent deal highlights include acting for ANZ Bank and the other mandated lead arrangers on a USD750 million sustainability-linked loan for SKI Carbon Black (Mauritius) – part of the Aditya Birla Group.
It also advised Sitara Solar Energy on the project financing of a 100MW solar power project in Rajasthan, and assisted Godrej Fund Management on various private equity matters exceeding USD1 billion. Finance and projects principal Kah Chin Chu is “very articulate and precise in explaining legal points” on external commercial borrowings, says Sriram Kumondur, deputy general manager and head of corporate banking for South Asia at Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation. Heading the firm’s Asia-Pacific capital markets group, Ashok Lalwani is respected for his “experience on India-related matters and commercial acumen”.
BIRD & BIRD has long served high-profile clients engaged in India-related businesses. Its portfolio includes names such as Air Asia, Alembic Pharma, BYJU’S, Cipla, Google, Pine Labs and Voltas. Under the leadership of partners Simon Fielder, Christian Bartsch, Mark Hilton and Jane Owen, the firm secured important roles on life sciences and technology deals, including the £50 million (USD60.6 million) investment in Oxford Biomedica by Serum Life Sciences, a UK subsidiary of the Serum Institute of India. It also assisted the founders of Germany’s Nimbus Health on its acquisition by Dr Reddy’s Laboratories.
Fortified by a strong disputes record, the firm managed a case for Mahindra & Mahindra in urgent Federal Court of Australia proceedings brought against it by Fiat Chrysler on allegations of registered design infringement. Bird & Bird diffused the dispute, persuading Fiat to discontinue its claim. John Stamper, a consultant counsel at Huda Beauty, engaged the firm for IP advice and speaks highly of partner Melissa Murray and IP legal director Renee Nugent in Dubai “for their attention to detail and client care”. Nipun Gupta and Nicholas Peacock head the India group.
CLEARY GOTTLIEB climbs into the Top 15 after an exceptional year on India-related transactions and disputes. The firm acted for Goldman Sachs, the largest shareholder in ReNew Power, on the company’s Nasdaq listing through a business combination with special purpose acquisition company RMG Acquisition Corporation II. The innovative USD8 billion deal marked the first de-SPAC transaction and Nasdaq listing by an Indian renewable company.
Cleary clocked up other impressive deals too, representing TPG Rise Climate on its USD1 billion investment with co-investor ADQ of Abu Dhabi in Tata Motors’ electric vehicle and infrastructure business; and Wockhardt on its collaboration with Serum Life Sciences UK to deliver a global vaccine programme. “Cleary’s India practice, in particular Tihir Sarkar and Nallini Puri for corporate and M&A, and Sunil Gadhia for disputes and investigations, is technically excellent, alert and responsive to clients’ needs,” says Rabindra Jhunjhunwala, a partner at Khaitan & Co. “Their practical and commercial style of working makes them particularly good to work with on high-value, complex deals.”
CLIFFORD CHANCE’s dedicated India practice has no trouble sinking its teeth into meaty mandates, and its achievements are often peppered with superlatives. Last August, the firm advised a syndicate of 12 lead managers on HDFC Bank’s inaugural offshore additional tier 1 (AT1) capital securities offering of USD1 billion. It was the largest offshore AT1 issuance from India to date, and the first from an Indian bank sold into the US under the rule 144A resale exemption.
The following month, Clifford Chance was international counsel to Power Finance Corporation on its EUR300 million (USD343.5 million) 1.841% notes due 2028 – the first euro-denominated green bond from India, and also the first euro bond from India since 2017. In another blockbuster deal last year, a team led by former partner David Lewis (who joined White & Case in January) advised Adani Green Energy on its USD3.5 billion acquisition of SB Energy’s 5GW India renewable power portfolio – the largest acquisition in India’s renewable energy sector. Dispute resolution experts Paul Sandosham, Nish Shetty and Kabir Singh have deep experience on contentious India-related matters.
DLA PIPER provides a robust offering for India-focused clients with senior lawyers bringing vast experience in litigation, arbitration, technology, banking and finance capital markets and M&A, among other areas. In one standout transaction, the firm advised Hinduja Global Solutions on the USD1.2 billion sale of its healthcare business to Baring Private Equity Asia. As part of the transaction involving 20,000 employees across India, the Philippines, the US and Jamaica, it transferred all client contracts, employees and assets, including infrastructure related to its healthcare services business. The firm also advised Indian solar glass manufacturer Borosil Renewables on its acquisition of Interfloat Group – Europe’s largest solar glass producer. Borosil, which manufactures specialty glass for photovoltaic systems, flat-plate collectors and greenhouses, is expanding its capacities in India and Europe, and will invest in new manufacturing technologies in Tschernitz, Germany. Daniel Sharma chairs the firm’s global India group and Meraj Noor is deputy chair. Raj Shah, who chairs the Chicago litigation group, is also an India practice leader.
FRESHFIELDS has advised on more than 500 India-related transactions and disputes since liberalisation of the economy in 1991. The firm’s 50-strong India group was strengthened last July by the arrival of the former US ambassador to India, Kenneth Juster who joined as a senior counsellor. With more than 40 years’ experience as a senior government official, law partner and business executive, he advises on cross-border and regulatory matters with a focus on the US and India.
Freshfields was counsel to Morgan Stanley as financial adviser on the USD60 billion merger between HDFC Bank and HDFC, India’s largest M&A deal to date; to Holcim Group on divestment of its stake in Ambuja Cements and ACC for USD10.5 billion; and to Germany’s Deutsche Telekom in an UNCITRAL bilateral investment treaty arbitration against the government of India. “Freshfields provides timely and expert advice and is very responsive in comparison to other firms,” says Sarvanan Manivel, head of legal for India at Bharat FIH. Manivel says partner Grace Huang is “prompt”, “responsive”, and “a subject matter expert on Hong Kong Stock Exchange regulations”. Arun Balasubramanian and Piusha Bose co-head the India practice.
HERBERT SMITH FREEHILLS has “an impeccable India resume”, says Mithun Thanks, a partner at Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas & Co. “They have decades-long experience in working very closely with Indian corporate clients and India-based MNCs. Their India practice, unlike several of their peer firms, is extremely cohesive and incredibly well led by [partner and chair of the India practice] Chris Parsons, an absolute India veteran.”
HSF is advising Bharti Airtel on the sale of minority stakes in Airtel Mobile Commerce, a subsidiary of Airtel Africa. These include a USD200 million investment by TPG’s The Rise Fund and a USD100 million investment by MasterCard. It also advised ThomasLloyd Energy Impact Trust on its USD150 million IPO – the first dedicated offering on the London Stock Exchange providing access to sustainable energy infrastructure in fast-growing economies in Asia including India. HSF “has consistently maintained its terrific ability to co-ordinate with its offices across the globe on all our matters”, says Ashok Kumar, head of legal for India at ArcelorMittal Nippon Steel. Partners Greg Mulley, Alan Montgomery, Roddy Martin, Clive Barnard, Alex Kay, Jamie McLaren, and head of global arbitration Paula Hodges QC are all well regarded.
JONES DAY is a trusted adviser on India-related transactions, disputes and investigations thanks to its broad capabilities across banking and finance, energy and projects, M&A and private equity. Its client roster includes companies such as Arsenal Capital Partners, ATN International, Babcock Power, Cardinal Health, Hyatt Hotels, Godrej Consumer Products, Macquarie Capital, OMERS, Oxford Properties and Vibrant Energy. A team led by India practice head Sushma Jobanputra and projects and finance expert Karthik Kumar advised UPL on two sustainability-linked facilities of a combined value of up to USD1.45 billion taken out by UPL’s subsidiary in Mauritius. The proceeds of both facilities will be used partly to refinance the USD3 billion facility that UPL obtained for its purchase of Arysta LifeScience.
In another deal, Jones Day advised on the India leg of Cardinal Health’s USD1 billion sale of its Cordis medical device division to Hellman & Friedman. The law firm also assisted San Francisco-based Twilio in acquiring ValueFirst, an Indian provider of digital communication solutions in India and Southeast Asia.
KIRKLAND & ELLIS earns its stripes, marking a debut in the top 15 following a superb performance on India matters. Yanyan Cai, Asia private equity transactions counsel at Bain Capital, has worked with the law firm on Bain’s acquisitions of significant minority interests in Indian companies, and appreciates their ability to “co-ordinate India, Mauritius and other local counsel, get to the point and then strike a good balance from both commercial and legal angles”.
Kirkland is also highly sought after for its investigations and disputes expertise. “[Kirkland’s] FCPA practice, spearheaded by Cori Lable, has a best-in-class team,” says Vikram Lakshman, assistant vice president at Blackstone. “They are well organised, effective and provide extremely commercial advice.” In a high-profile case, the firm acted for Sun Pharma and its US subsidiary, Ranbaxy, in their defence of class action litigations asserting more than USD10 billion in damages for antitrust – and Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organisations Act claims – tied to the drugs Valcyte, Diovan and Nexium. After narrowing many of the claims through years of hard-fought litigation, Ranbaxy announced a comprehensive settlement with the plaintiffs in March.
LATHAM & WATKINS advises international companies with Indian interests on transactions, financings and high-value disputes governed by Singapore, English and US law. The firm has a stellar reputation for equity fundraising and is often at the forefront of multimillion-dollar IPOs. Examples include advising on the record-breaking USD2.47 billion IPO of digital payments and financial services platform Paytm; food delivery company Zomato’s USD1.25 billion IPO; the USD770 million IPO of Policybazaar and Paisabazaar owners PB Fintech; and the USD676 million IPO of logistics services company Delhivery.
It also handled debt transactions in the past 12 months. Partner Timothy Hia led a team that acted for Adani Transmission on a USD700 million revolving senior debt facility signed with eight international banks. The “green loan” facility is the first of its kind sanctioned by international banks in the transmission sector, to finance four green transmission projects developed by Adani in Gujarat and Maharashtra. Partner Rajiv Gupta heads the India team with support from partners Sidharth Bhasin and James Clayton-Payne, among others.
LINKLATERS holds an outstanding track record for India mandates. It advised on six of India Business Law Journal’s Deals of the Year 2021, more than any other foreign firm, and has the highest number of lawyers among its peers on our A-List. The law firm is a frontrunner for equity and debt capital market deals, led by Amit Singh, head of capital markets for South and Southeast Asia.
Last November, Linklaters advised on India’s largest road monetisation project, acting for National Highways Infra Trust (InvIT) and its sponsor, National Highways Authority of India (NHAI), on an initial placement of units in the InvIT through a USD670 million private placement. In the same month, it advised the lead managers on Policybazaar’s USD770 million IPO and was sole international counsel on Bharti Airtel’s USD2.8 billion rights issue of partly paid-up equity shares. In May, the firm advised a number of lead managers on the largest IPO in India to date – the USD2.7 billion offering by state-owned Life Insurance Corporation of India. Finance partner Narayan Iyer spearheads the India group. Other key India contacts are partners Savi Hebbur, Sushil Jacob and Philip Badge.
NORTON ROSE FULBRIGHT is renowned for its strengths in disputes, banking and finance, and projects. “Especially in international arbitration, where one of the parties is Indian, NRF is the preferred choice given its eminent and illustrious team of arbitration lawyers across the globe,” says Mrinal Jain, a director at Secretariat International. Last year, the firm was counsel to IndiGo Airlines’ successful defence in a dispute between its promoters. It also assisted the lenders on a USD163 million financing to Azure Power Forty One for a 300MW solar photovoltaic power project in Rajasthan.
Mukund Thakkar, senior vice president of legal at Zydus Lifesciences, rates the firm for arbitration and M&A deals as “better than all others I have known”. He notes the firm’s “prompt delivery” and believes “the second layer of lawyers is also very talented”. India practice head Sherina Petit is especially highly regarded. “Sherina has experience, expertise and excellence in handling large, complex, multi-jurisdiction arbitration cases,” says Jain, noting her ability to “naturally connect with the Indian business mindset, understand cultural sensitivities and appreciate the market dynamics”.
SIDLEY AUSTIN’s India team, led by partner Manoj Bhargava, is spread across Singapore, London, Sydney, Hong Kong and the US. The firm has a pristine record for capital markets work, having advised on more than 320 offerings in India, raising more than USD60 billion. Its clientele includes government institutions, multinational conglomerates, established and early-stage Indian corporates, investment funds, sponsors, and commercial and investment banks.
Some of its recent achievements include: advising underwriters on the USD715 million IPO of beauty and lifestyle brand Nykaa; advising on Macrotech Developers’ USD550 million qualified institutional placement (QIP); acting for Dream Sports on its USD400 million and USD840 million secondary investments; and representing KKR as lead investor in the USD180 million series F financing round of Livspace, a home interior and renovation platform serving homeowners in India, Malaysia and Singapore. One client who recommends Sidley for IPOs, QIPs and rights issues attests to the firm’s “solution-oriented approach, expert knowledge on regulatory frameworks and availability to address queries”.
WHITE & CASE offers deep practice experience for India-focused businesses, from arbitration and financing to M&A, private equity and projects. In one major highlight, the firm advised Yondr, developer, owner, operator and service provider of hyperscale data centres, on its USD1 billion strategic joint venture partnership with Everstone Group. Branded EverYondr, the joint venture will manage investments into data centre projects in India. Equally notable was its role as counsel to BYJU’S on its USD1.2 billion term loan B facility arranged by Morgan Stanley and JP Morgan.
The firm is also representing India in an enforcement proceeding relating to a high-value investment treaty award arising from the termination of a contract between Devas and the Indian space agency for the use of satellite spectrum in the telecommunications sector. Last December, White & Case boosted its India practice with the arrival of Sayak Maity as a partner in its M&A and private equity team. Maity was formerly a partner in Mumbai at AZB & Partners. Dipen Sabharwal, QC, is newly appointed head of the firm’s London office and India country practice head. The India group also includes specialist partners Rahul Guptan, Alexander McMyn, Aditya Singh and Nandan Nelivigi.
Firms are listed in alphabetical order.
ASHURST takes pride in its commitment to India, and has enjoyed a non-exclusive best-friend referral arrangement for 11 years with Indian Law Partners, an 18-lawyer firm with offices in Mumbai and New Delhi. Together, the two firms serve clients domestically in India and help Indian companies enlarge their footprint outside the country. Last year, a team led by partners Stuart Dullard and Natsuko Ogawa, advised Sequoia Capital India on its USD13 million investment in Milko Grocery. Under the Voly brand, Milko’s startup e-grocery delivery business uses local “dark stores” to deliver groceries to consumers in 15 minutes.
In March, a team led by partner Anna-Marie Slot with support from counsel Natalia Sokolova and senior associates Eileen Kelly and Elizabeth Friedman, advised India Clean Energy, a subsidiary of ReNew Energy Global, on its high-yield green bond issuance of USD400 million 4.5% senior secured notes due 2027. Also that month, Slot, Kelly and counsel Ethan Perry acted for the initial purchasers on the high-yield green bond issuance by Greenko Power II of USD1 billion 4.3% senior notes due 2028. Partners Stuart Rubin, Alfred Ng and Daniel Reinbott, consultant Geoffrey Picton-Turbervill and senior associate Harsh Hari Haran are key contacts.
CMS serves clients through its leading transactional and disputes capabilities across the UK, Europe, the Middle East and Asia. Partners and associates in the firm’s India group co-ordinate work from offices in London, Stuttgart, Dusseldorf, Dubai, Singapore, Zurich and Rome. CMS has served clients such as Tata Steel, Larsen & Toubro Infotech, NORD Holding, Apollo Tyres, SRF and the International Cricket Council on India-related mandates.
In a recent highlight, the firm advised Emerging Media on its increased stake in IPL cricket team Rajasthan Royals from 51% to 65%. It also acted for online food delivery platform Zomato on its USD120 million acquisition of an undisclosed stake in online supermarket platform Grofers India. Dr Reddy’s global general counsel, Vivek Mittal, recently worked with CMS on their acquisition of Nimbus Health, a privately owned pharmaceutical wholesaler focusing on medical cannabis in Germany. “We liked [CMS] and their response time,” says Mittal, describing India practice head Bill Carr and partner Heiko Wiechers as “good professionals”. Other key contacts for India are partners Babita Ambekar and Ernst-Markus Schuberth.
EVERSHEDS SUTHERLAND maintains strong relationships with its preferred Indian legal advisers through Eversheds Sutherland Asia-Pacific Alliance, its internal network of firms in the region. Partner Parmjit Singh heads the India group and legal director Ankit Chhabra co-ordinates India-related corporate and M&A transactions. Recent significant matters include acting for: CGN New Energy, a diversified independent power producer, on the corporate structure of its two Indian subsidiaries; the owners of HRS Heat Exchangers on the sale of the company to Exchanger Industries via its financial sponsors HarbourVest Partners, Headway Capital Partners, Morgan Stanley, Nova Capital Management and Parish Capital Advisors; and Cinturion on the series A-1 financing for the construction and operation of a submarine fibre optic cable connecting France and Italy to India through the Middle East.
Eversheds was also active in the education sector, guiding upGrad, India’s largest online higher education company, on setting up in the UK. It is currently handling a spate of litigations and arbitrations for Indian parties across Europe, the US and the Middle East.
GIBSON DUNN has proven strengths across emerging markets in India and Southeast Asia, and its qualifying foreign law practice licence in Singapore offers clients a one-stop-shop in the region. Its India practice is headed by partner Jai Pathak, with over 30 years’ experience advising major clients on India-related transactions. Last year the firm represented Adani Ports on a joint venture with John Keells and Sri Lanka Ports Authority to develop Colombo’s West International Container Terminal. It was also an adviser to RedBird Capital Partners on its USD840 million investment in Indian sports tech company Dream Sports, led by Falcon Edge, DST Global, D1 Capital, RedBird Capital and Tiger Global at an USD8 billion valuation.
Isaac Halyard, vice president of Redbird Capital Partners, describes Pathak, as well as partners Stefan dePozsgay and Amar Madhani, as “extremely knowledgeable” with “very high execution capabilities”. Wasim Haidry, the director of operations at Wolverine World Wide, said the firm was “excellent” in its guidance on setting up an entity in India. Of counsel Karthik Ashwin Thiagarajan and associate attorney Prachi Jhunjhunwala are other key India team members.
GOODWIN PROCTER has blazed a trail for India-focused clients active in private equity, M&A and fund formation. Last year, Bengaluru-based commerce app Meesho engaged the firm for its USD570 million series F financing, and Lone Pine Capital and Alkeon Capital Management relied on its expertise when they invested in wealth management platform Groww as part of its USD250 million series E financing round.
The firm scored roles on memorable deals this year, too, including acting for Biocon Biologics, India’s largest biopharmaceutical company, on its agreement to acquire Nasdaq-listed Viatris’ global biosimilars business for USD3.33 billion to create a fully integrated global biosimilars enterprise. One client was pleased with Goodwin’s “response time and quality of service”. She endorses partners Edwin Chan for being “very commercial and practical” and Abhishek Krishnan for providing “very helpful advice by combining his international experience with his Indian expertise”. Partner Yash Rana, co-chair of Goodwin’s private equity group, leads the India practice he started in 2008. Rana is supported by partner Gregory Barclay, counsel Ananth Lakshman, and associates Manish Ranjan and Asmita Mishra.
HOGAN LOVELLS offers clients India expertise from Singapore, Hong Kong, Dubai, London, Munich and Washington DC. The firm has a solid portfolio assisting on the development of infrastructure projects, investment opportunities, capital raising, business restructuring, IP protection and dispute resolution. Hogan Lovells continued its relationship with Indian e-commerce giant Flipkart, advising on the company’s USD3.6 billion funding from global investors. The deal values Flipkart at a whopping USD37.6 billion, ranking it among the top 10 e-commerce companies globally. In previous years, the firm advised Walmart on its 2018 acquisition of Flipkart, along with Flipkart’s recent USD1.2 billion fundraising; and a USD700 million fundraising for mobile payments app PhonePe.
The firm’s Singapore office, Hogan Lovells Lee & Lee, advised on procedural issues in a dispute between Japanese multinational Meidensha Corporation and its Indian joint venture partner, Prime Group, arising from a 2016 share purchase agreement. The court awarded costs in favour of Meidensha last August. Singapore managing partner Stephanie Keen and partners Andy Ferris, Ajay Kuntamukkala and Biswajit Chatterjee are key contacts.
KING & SPALDING climbs into the Key Players category after an impressive year of diverse, contentious cases and transactions. Clients flock to the law firm for its formidable dispute resolution expertise. K&S currently acts for loyal client Reliance in three matters – two relating to the largest India arbitrations to date and the third to an IP dispute in the global biosim market. The firm is also assisting on two arbitrations involving Vedanta’s oil and gas division.
Neha Guha, deputy general counsel at the Cairn Oil & Gas division, says K&S is “one of the most effective and high-calibre law firms we have had the pleasure to work with”, and notes its “outstanding subject matter knowledge and domain expertise”. Guha commends Thomas Sprange, QC, for his “strong business acumen and immense industry knowledge” and for being “intuitive, tactical, and excellent at anticipating legal issues and risks”. She also credits partner Sajid Ahmed for his “indispensable leadership”. Having invested extensively in India offerings in the past decade, Nayara Energy vice president and general counsel Pooja Yadava says the firm “brings invaluable insights in navigating complex issues”. Partner Rahul Patel heads the India team.
MAYER BROWN is respected for its transactional execution and capabilities in dispute resolution, with extensive experience on energy matters. The firm advised Reliance Industrial Investments and Holdings last year on its GBP57 million (USD68 million) acquisition of the UK’s iconic Stoke Park, the filming location for two James Bond films and Netflix’s series, The Crown. Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance again turned to the firm for its USD98.1 million acquisition of Cayman Islands-based Columbus Centre, which indirectly owns a 73.37% stake in New York’s Mandarin Oriental hotel.
More recently it was counsel to the US International Development Finance Corporation on the issue of Basel III compliant unsecured and subordinated tier 2 notes aggregating to USD100 million, with a tenor of 117 months, by Indian private commercial bank RBL Bank. The firm is also currently involved in complicated arbitration hearings involving Indian parties. In January, finance specialist Soumitro Mukerji joined Mayer Brown in Singapore as a partner, moving from Hogan Lovells. He co-chairs the India practice with New York-based partner David Carpenter. Arbitration partners Tay Yu-Jin and Paul Teo are also esteemed.
MILBANK’s India-focused client list includes HSBC, Reliance Industries, K-Sure, Export Development Canada, Amtek Auto, Essar Oil, ICICI Bank, Axis Capital and Indian Hotels. The law firm is a magnet for financing and capital markets transactions thanks to the countless deals it has under its belt in these areas. Milbank was counsel to JSW Infrastructure on its debut rule 144A/regulation S offering of USD400 million 4.95% senior secured notes, the first successful sustainability-linked bonds by an Indian port company, due in 2029. It also advised the lead managers in a USD707 million 144A/reg S green project bond issued by JSW Hydro Energy. The notes are secured by the assets of two hydro plants totalling 1400MW.
In addition, it acted for Atlantic Gulf & Pacific in relation to I Squared Capital’s investment of USD300 million in AG&P City Gas, one of the India’s largest private city gas distribution companies. In another standout deal, the firm was lenders’ counsel on a green loan to finance the USD736 million acquisition of Norway-based solar panel maker REC Solar by Reliance New Energy Solar. Partner James Grandolfo heads the India group following the retirement of practice co-head Naomi Ishikawa.
REED SMITH’s multi-practice expertise of an India team spread over London, the Middle East and Asia is a huge draw for clients. In January, the firm launched a first-of-its-kind mobile app developed by Timothy Cooke to help users calculate the costs of arbitration around the world. India practice head, partner Gautam Bhattacharyya, leads a “Spotlight on…” podcast dedicated to arbitral insights at the firm, featuring interviews with prominent Indian arbitration experts and other eminent figures across the global arbitral community.
The India team advised: GMR Infrastructure on a restructuring relating to its USD275 million foreign currency convertible bond programme; British Asian Trust on a series of structural amendments to the Quality Education India Development Impact Bond; and Tech Mahindra on its purchase of Activus Connect. “Reed Smith has deep sector and regional knowledge … and very competitive fee arrangements,” says Hywel Phillip, general counsel for AT Capital. Bhattacharyya, along with partners Gerald Licnachan and Matt Gorman, are “pragmatic, responsive and client-focused” and “take time to understand the commercial drivers behind a deal”.
ROPES & GRAY is renowned for its anti-corruption investigative work and deep experience on private equity and corporate M&A matters. The firm’s India team operates from the US, Hong Kong, London, Shanghai, Tokyo and Seoul. Ropes & Gray recently advised Google on multiple antitrust investigations conducted by the European Commission, US Federal Trade Commission and the Competition Commission of India (CCI). It was also counsel to Google on a six-year abuse of dominance investigation by the CCI regarding search and advertising in India, which predominantly found in Google’s favour.
On the transactional side, the firm assisted Baring Private Equity Asia on its USD1.2 billion acquisition of Hinduja Global Solutions’ India-based healthcare services business. Ropes & Gray also prides itself on pioneering global impact investing transactions across sectors including sustainable agriculture, renewable energy, conservation, microfinance, health, education and the provision of basic goods and services. Partners Daniel Anderson, Geoffrey Atkins, Andrew Dale, Vincent Ip, Neill Jakobe and Ruchit Patel are primary contacts.
SHEARMAN & STERLING has handled assignments with an Indian element across multiple practice areas over the years – from M&A and divestments to restructuring and workouts, financings, arbitration and litigation, anti-bribery and anti-corruption, asset management, projects and competition. In a recent deal, the firm advised certain subsidiaries of Aemetis as borrowers on a USD100 million financing agented by Third Eye Capital. Aemetis operates as a renewable natural gas, fuels and byproducts company in North America and India. The financing comprised a USD50 million revolving credit facility to fund projects that reduce, capture, utilise or sequester carbon for reducing carbon dioxide emissions, and a USD50 million revolving credit facility for working capital purposes.
Shearman also flexed its capital markets muscle when a team led by partner Kwungwon Lee advised underwriters – Morgan Stanley India, Goldman Sachs (India) Securities, Axis Capital, ICICI Securities, JP Morgan India, Citigroup Global Markets India and HDFC Bank – on the USD2.4 billion IPO of One97 Communications, operating under the brand Paytm.
SIMPSON THACHER is a powerhouse on the private equity stage. When global investment leader KKR acquired Sequoia Capital’s stake in beauty products company Vini Cosmetics for USD625 million, it relied on Simpson Thacher for legal advice. The transaction, led by partner Ian Ho, was touted as the largest private equity control deal in India’s personal care and beauty products sector to date. KKR again engaged Simpson Thacher when it agreed to purchase Global Infrastructure Partners’ entire interest in Highway Concessions One and seven highway assets extending 487 kilometres across seven Indian states. The deal marks KKR’s third investment in India from the KKR Asia-Pacific Infrastructure Fund, and its first investment in Asia’s transport sector.
Scoring a hat-trick, the firm also acted for KKR on its USD95 million investment in Lenskart, India’s largest eyewear service provider. This year, Blackstone also sought the firm’s advice when it bought a controlling stake from Advent International and other sellers in Indian asset and wealth management company ASK Investment Managers.
SLAUGHTER AND MAY has advised on some of the most groundbreaking and iconic assignments involving Indian companies, attracting clients such as Tata Steel, GlaxoSmithKline, Star India, TVS Motors, Vodafone India and Reliance Brands. The firm invests heavily in its relationships with leading Indian law firms through meetings in London and India, as well as joint training sessions. Last year, a team led by partners Paul Dickson and Chris McGaffin assisted Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group on its USD2 billion acquisition of a 74.9% stake in Fullerton India Credit Company from Fullerton Financial Holdings, an independent portfolio company of Temasek. Fullerton India offers unsecured loans and loans against property, mainly to small and medium enterprises, self-employed and mass market customers.
In April, a team led by partner Robin Ogle advised BlackRock Real Assets on its USD525 million consortium investment in Tata Power Renewable Energy, which will house the renewable energy businesses of The Tata Power Company including utility-scale solar, wind and hybrid generation assets, solar cell and module manufacturing, and rooftop solar infrastructure.
Clients can bank on STEPHENSON HARWOOD’s network for expanding their businesses across Asia, the Middle East and Europe. The firm’s London, Dubai and Singapore offices are playing an increasingly important role in the India group, and its Africa practice offers an attractive proposition for companies seeking to tap economies in that region. Among its major Indian clients are Adani Group, ICICI Bank, Cleartrip, HDFC, Aditya Birla Finance, Eastern Condiments and several Bollywood celebrities.
Stephenson Harwood recently advised: the State Bank of India on a USD1 billion credit facility to the government of Sri Lanka for the import of food, medicine and other essential items; Knowcross and its shareholders on its sale to UniFocus/Riverside; and Yes Bank on all English law aspects of various term loans to subsidiaries of SoftBank Energy for Indian solar power projects. In February, Rustum Shah joined the firm’s Dubai office as a partner and head of Islamic finance, bringing more than 20 years’ experience advising Indian financial institutions on some of their most strategic conventional financings.
Firms are listed in alphabetical order.
ADDLESHAW GODDARD counts among its clients Indian businesses such as Tata Chemicals, State Bank of India, Adani Energy, JSW Steel, Future Group, Tata SIA Airlines, Shapoorji Pallonji Group, Zen Shipping and Cipla. It has also assisted UK and international businesses such as International Airlines Group, Zeus Capital, Lloyds Banking Group, Rolls Royce, Diageo, De Beers and Royal Bank of Scotland on their partnerships with Indian companies.
The firm recently advised: an Indian private equity real estate fund on its investment in high-end London residential property developments; ICICI Bank on a number of financial claims; and an India-headquartered global IT company on its commercial agreements and a multi-jurisdictional HR compliance exercise. Abhijit Joshi, founding and managing partner of Veritas Legal, says the firm offers a “highly personalised service” and invests in relationships that “generates the trust factor in their favour”. Saraswan Mukherjee, assistant general counsel at ITC, says Addleshaw’s “quality of services is second to none”. He adds: “The firm’s approach combines a deep understanding of clients’ businesses, markets and sectors, with domain expertise.”
COOLEY has established its credibility in the Indian market after advising some of the most innovative and disruptive Indian startups and emerging companies – including unicorns such as BYJU’S, Groww, Freshworks, Meesho, Mobile Premier League, Moglix, and PhonePe – on financing rounds attracting prestigious venture capital investors. Its latest string of deals illustrates this prominence. The firm advised: BYJU’S in its USD500 million acquisition of Epic Creations; SoftBank Vision Fund 2 in co-leading investment in the USD3.6 billion financing of Flipkart; and Snap’s investment in the USD502 million series e-financing of India-based social media and networking platform ShareChat.
Amit Patel, the managing director of Owl Ventures, has worked with the firm on several investments in education technology firms across India and on M&A transactions for Owl’s portfolio. “The Cooley team has done an impeccable job of helping us navigate complex transactions in a timely and comprehensive manner,” says Patel. “They are absolutely superb and have been an invaluable sounding board and adviser on several strategic decisions.” Singapore managing partner Ferish Patel and partner Rishab Kumar head the India team.
COVINGTON & BURLING’s lawyers have been working on India-related matters for more than 20 years. In addition to its experience on delisting transactions, project financings, arbitrations and investigations, joint ventures and other corporate matters, the firm has also advised clients on public policy relating to India. Its work in this area is spearheaded by lawyers in Washington DC, London, Brussels and Beijing, covering international trade and investment, foreign assistance, IP rights, trade controls and competition law.
Reliance continues to be a faithful client. Covington acted for Reliance Strategic Business Ventures on a series of agreements to create a joint venture with electronics manufacturer Sanmina through its existing Indian entity to create a world-class
electronic manufacturing hub in India. It also went on to advise Reliance New Energy on its USD61 million acquisition of Lithium Werks, which included the entire patent portfolio of the company, manufacturing facilities in China, key business contracts and hiring of existing employees. Ralph Voltmer is an India specialist chairing the firm’s India practice.
CRAVATH SWAINE & MOORE is consistently at the forefront of prestigious and landmark deals. The firm has advised Indian companies on capital markets transactions, M&A, joint ventures, litigation and arbitrations, and US-related compliance and reporting, as well as US and international entities on their India investments. Cravath is currently advising HDFC Bank on the USD40 billion purchase of its largest shareholder, housing finance company HDFC. The pending merger is expected to be the biggest transaction in India’s corporate history, creating a financial services titan. Augustine Quadros, senior executive, VP legal and secretarial at HDFC Bank, says the company continues to rely on Cravath’s expertise for US compliance matters and securities class action suits. “They are approachable and a very competent law firm,” says Quadros. “Their partners and associates give well-articulated, clear and easy to understand legal opinions.” Cravath also snapped up roles as adviser to Viatris on the USD3.33 billion sale of its biosimilars portfolio to Biocon Biologics, and IBM on the sale of its Talent Acquisition Suite to Bengaluru-based Infinite Computer Solutions. London managing partner Philip Boeckman heads the India team.
DAVIS POLK has a strong track record on capital market deals, advising companies and financial institutions on offerings around the world. The firm represented Reliance Industries on its recent landmark USD4 billion bond issue, reportedly the country’s largest foreign currency bond deal to date. The multi-tranche offering comprised a USD1.5 billion issue with 2.875% coupon due in 2032; a USD1.75 billion issue with 3.625% coupon due in 2052; and a USD750 million issue with 3.750% coupon due in 2062. Reliance plans to use the proceeds primarily to refinance existing borrowings.
In another standout deal more recently, the firm advised the underwriter on the USD258.8 million IPO by special purpose acquisition company Investcorp India Acquisition Corp, which intends to target India industries it believes have high potential for growth and generate strong returns for its shareholders. Davis Polk is also respected for its disputes practice. Martin Rogers, who chairs the firm’s Asia practice and heads its litigation team, has strong relationships with securities and banking regulators in the region, including India.
DEBEVOISE & PLIMPTON boasts a strong dispute resolution offering under the leadership of Lord Goldsmith QC, who chairs the European and Asian litigation practice. Debevoise has been active on commercial disputes, investment disputes and international investigations. The team is complemented by an active India corporate practice that advises clients on M&A and joint ventures, private equity and fund formation, direct investment and capital markets. In addition to contentious matters, the disputes team provides advice to its corporate clients on bilateral investment treaty structuring, and arbitration clauses in transactional documents. A team led by partners Paul Bird and Uri Herzberg advised UK-based tech and management consultancy Capco on its USD1.45 billion sale to Wipro in one of the largest acquisitions by an Indian IT services company last year. Debevoise also advised one of the selling shareholders in Capco, private equity firm Clayton Dubilier & Rice. Partner Geoffrey Burgess also offers broad India-related experience, specialising in private equity, healthcare and aviation, and technology, media and telecommunications.
With 25 offices across 11 countries, FIELDFISHER showcases its talents across a variety of practice areas and sectors. Its accolades in the past 12 months include: acting for Saietta on a joint venture in India with a large Indian OEM manufacturer; global sodium-ion battery technology company Faradion’s sale to Reliance New Energy Solar; and German automotive parts supplier LINDE + WIEMANN’s sale of a 50% stake to Neel Metal.
In February, the firm appointed Shivani Sanghi as a partner in its international arbitration and commercial litigation team in London. In July, the arrival of Priyanka Kapoor from PCB Byrne further bolstered the firm’s disputes practice. Both Sanghi and Kapoor are dual-qualified in England & Wales, and India. “We are very satisfied with the way Fieldfisher has been looking after our case,” says Ravi Darbari, Fieldfisher’s primary client in the Gokul Binani v Macedonia investment treaty arbitration. “Shivani Sanghi has done an exceptional job.” The firm takes pride in its commitment to diversity, environmental sustainability and technology investment.
FOLEY HOAG is a dependable adviser to many companies with an Indian interest as it handles everything from emerging company and venture capital work to employment matters, immigration issues, M&A, and human rights. The firm guided Apollo Hospitals on the applicability of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act and other US federal and state data privacy laws. The advice related to an agreement between an Indian and US healthcare provider. Foley Hoag also advised Premji Invest, a private equity fund owned by Azim Premji, which manages more than USD2 billion in funds, on investments in capital markets and purchases of minority stakes in startups. These included: a USD135 million series C-2 financing of Unite Us, developer of a care co-ordination and outcome tracking platform to connect users with social service providers; the USD1.15 billion series D financing of healthcare plan provider Devoted Health; and a USD150 million series C financing of SonderMind, the developer of a mental and behavioural health platform. The firm also advised Vasta Global in the USD80 million sale of all of its equity to OMH HealthEdge Holdings.
GUNDERSON DETTMER has made a splash on the India scene with its expertise and exclusive focus on emerging growth companies and their investors. In 2021, the firm counted 129 reported deals handled by its Singapore team relating to India and Southeast Asia, which included more than 100 companies and 560 investors, raising USD15.9 billion for companies in the region. Gunderson enjoyed an action-packed year advising on deals across various industries such as fintech, life sciences, healthtech, sportstech, e-commerce, crypto and blockchain, among others.
Standout deals include: acting for Accel as it co-led the USD650 million series E financing of India-based executive education platform Eruditus; Lightspeed Venture Partners and Tiger Global in the USD502 million series E financing of ShareChat; and Lone Pine Capital on the USD375 million series F financing of Razorpay. “Gunderson Dettmer beats many of its peers in terms of responsiveness and problem-solving attitude,” says Vinayak Mishra, director of legal at Lightspeed India Partners Advisors, adding their service is “par excellence”. Singapore managing and founding partner Jonathan Pentzien, partner David He and associate Jolyn Ang are all well respected for their work.
K&L GATES has made a name for itself in the Indian market after cultivating deep and long-lasting relationships with prominent Indian companies, financial institutions, businesses and domestic law firms. Its credentials on both deals and disputes provide an attractive combination for India-focused clients. The firm is currently representing a Singapore company in an ICC arbitration involving a boiler coal supply contract with an Indian company, and advising an Indian multi-sectoral conglomerate involved in contractual disputes with the owner of a resort. It was also instructed by a major low-cost airline to restructure various aircraft lease agreements, and engaged by a client to obtain a patent-to-product candidate (an antibody) that binds HLA-G for cancer treatment.
India practice chair Pallavi Mehta Wahi is “truly an exceptional lawyer”, says Bharat Anand, a partner at Khaitan & Co. Sandip Beri, a partner at Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas & Co, also commends Wahi for “her keen understanding of the law … incisive analysis and excellent communication”, and being a “role model for promoting diversity and inclusion”.
KELLEY DRYE & WARREN’s India practice handles corporate and commercial transactions and international litigation and arbitration. The firm has a robust US-based India practice and a strong relationship with Fortitude Law Associates, its affiliate firm based in Mumbai. In the past 12 months Kelley Drye has advised private equity firms on the purchase of stakes in Indian companies, and also Indian companies on acquisitions of US entities. In a recent achievement, the firm advised Fractal Analytics, an artificial intelligence and advanced analytics solutions provider, on its acquisition of revenue growth management company Samya.ai.
Kelley Drye recently appointed Mitchell Mackler as a special counsel to its India team. Mackler was formerly vice president and head of contracts for HCL Technologies, and before that vice president and deputy general counsel for Wipro. His practice focuses on negotiating complex agreements for the acquisition, licensing or sale of outsourcing services, IT and business information. The firm’s India team is led by partner Deepak Nambiar and includes partners Tim Lavender, Andrew Pillsbury, Carol Sherman and Wendy Clarke, and special counsel Courtney Kleshinski.
MCDERMOTT WILL & EMERY added a feather to its cap when selected by the UK’s Department of International Trade among three firms that will advise on the negotiation and implementation of a free-trade agreement between the UK and India (along with two other FTAs). The honour confirms the prominence of McDermott’s international trade practice, in addition to its other practice area specialties. Last August, the firm launched a new office in Singapore, further enhancing its reach in Asia and expanding its India offerings.
It also strengthened its India group, taking on board partners Anand Saha (New York), Ben Curtis (Miami), Amol Parikh (Chicago), Doug Carsten (Orange County), Jed Gordon (Boston) and Bhanu Sadasivan (Silicon Valley) as specialists in capital markets, white-collar issues and IP. The firm’s recent India activity includes: assisting HIG LBO Fund on a potential acquisition of Paysafe India; ICICI Bank on drafting a new facility agreement that restructures certain working capital facilities; and healthcare diagnostics company PierianDx on its strategic joint venture in India. Partner Ranajoy Basu leads the India team.
Clients speak enthusiastically of MORGAN LEWIS’ capabilities. The firm is “excellent”, says Amy Farris Wolfe, general counsel of Aurobindo Pharma USA. She attests to the team’s availability for early calls despite the time difference, their “sophisticated expertise”, and ability to speak the local dialect. Pratish Shah, the CEO of Zen Technologies, says the firm is “very strong and knowledgeable” on advice relating to cross-border setups between Indian and US entities, offering “a wide range of expertise”.
The firm clinched a role as counsel to Glade Brook Capital in the USD60 million series A financing of Indian quick-commerce grocery delivery app Zepto. It went on to represent Evolvence India Fund in the USD15 million series B financing of ANSR, a company that helps global organisations accelerate digital transformation and technology innovation through global capability centres. Duro Capital also turned to the firm for advice on a USD285 million funding round in Pine Labs, one of India’s top three payment systems players. Clients rate partners Stacey Anne Mahoney, John Lavelle, John Gisleson and Andrew Gray. Rahul Kapoor heads the India team.
MORRISON & FOERSTER shines across practice areas, closing high-value deals for clients in capital markets, M&A and private equity spaces. The firm’s India team, led by partner Amit Kataria, has also cemented its reputation on contentious matters, investigations and anti-corruption work. The firm maintains strong relations with India’s leading lawyers and law firms.
MoFo’s notable transactions include advising: SoftBank Vision Fund on the USD2.4 billion IPO of One97 Communications, which operates under the Paytm brand; BlackRock on its USD600 million investment in Pine Labs; SoftBank Vision Fund on PB Fintech’s USD700 million IPO; and the USD250 million investment by SoftBank Vision Fund II-2 in Indian banking tech unicorn Zeta.
“Amit [Kataria] is a ferocious negotiator and understands the market extremely well,” says George Kanelos, vice director, legal at SoftBank Investment Advisers. “Amit and his team are head and shoulders above their competitors. We haven’t found any other partner who has been able to replicate combining true local knowledge with the ability to position issues in a way that covers the bases an international investor’s IC will want.”
PENNINGTONS MANCHES COOPER commands respect for its grasp of the cultural sensitivities and nuances required when working with Indian companies in the UK. A snapshot of its client list reveals names like Bank of India, Emcure Pharma, Nihilent Technologies and Bharti Global. In addition to corporate services such as commercial and IP, finance and banking, real estate and dispute resolution, Penningtons also offers a suite of services for private wealth advisory and immigration, tapping into the knowledge that Indian businesses remain tightly controlled by family promoters who would gladly choose a trusted adviser to manage both their public and personal portfolios.
In one case, the firm successfully prevented an attack on a prominent Indian family’s dynastic wealth and property following the wrongful issue of a worldwide freezing order. It is also assisting Mahindra & Mahindra and Tata Consultancy Services on UK and EU trademark matters; and Bharat Forge, Canara Bank and Dhani on immigration matters. Partners Pat Saini and Phillip D’Costa co-head the India practice. Consultants Rustam Dubash and Teja Picton-Howell are also highly experienced India hands.
SHEPPARD MULLIN RICHTER & HAMPTON offers significant experience in IP, IT litigation, labour and employment, anti-corruption and trade regulation, capital markets and M&A. The firm is closely involved with the US-India Business Council, as well as other India-oriented organisations to keep updated with the legal environment and better understand client needs. It has also forged important relationships with leading business houses, prominent figures in local business and professional circles.
The firm represents Indian IT multinational Mphasis on corporate, litigation, government contracts and alternative dispute resolution matters, as well as assisting with US employment law issues. It also guides L&T Technology Services on employment law issues, including compliance with US, state and local laws, and employment litigation. Tech Mahindra is another client, consulting Sheppard Mullin for all aspects of litigation, internal investigations and dispute resolution, including patent, trade secrets and licence matters. Partner Robert Friedman heads the India practice with support from partners James Hays, Jeff Kern and Valerie Demont.
SIMMONS & SIMMONS provides a full-service offering with a focus on four key sectors: asset management and investment funds; financial institutions; healthcare and life sciences; and technology, media and telecommunications. The firm recently advised Australia’s IDP Education on the acquisition of the British Council’s IELTS Business in India for GBP130 million (USD156 million). It was also counsel to Marshall Wace Investment Strategies on Gupshup USA’s purchase of Active.Ai group.
“The on-ground advice, commercial acumen, turnaround time and partner-level involvement all stand out as far as Simmons & Simmons is concerned,” says Aparajit Bhattacharya, a partner at DSK Legal. “Their service delivery is exceptional and top-notch.” Anuj Bhasme, a partner at Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas & Co, attests to the firm’s “prompt and hands-on” approach, “which helps in managing time and commercially sensitive mandates”. Bhattacharya credits counsel and India group head Shashwat Patel, partners Arthur Stewart, Hinal Patel, Colin Leaver, Satyen Dhana and James Coleman, and managing associate David Trapp for their “knowledge of law, commercial acumen, availability and innovative pricing models”.
SKADDEN was counsel on one of the most innovative capital markets deals of 2021, representing special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) RMG Acquisition Corporation II in an USD8 billion deal enabling ReNew Power’s Nasdaq listing last August. This was one of the largest US listings of an Indian company via the de-SPAC route at the time. Skadden was also involved in a high-profile dispute between the feuding promoters of IndiGo airlines, Rakesh Gangwal and Rahul Bhatia. The arbitration was seated in New Delhi and administered by the London Court of International Arbitration under the LCIA India Rules 2016. The arbitral award issued directions to the parties involved in relation to the relief sought against each other and also directed reimbursement of costs incurred by InterGlobe Aviation, IndiGo’s parent company, and a respondent in the matter. Skadden advised Gangwal and three others on the case. Litigation and arbitration specialist, partner David Kavanagh QC, and corporate, M&A and capital markets expert, partner Rajeev Duggal, have extensive experience on India-related matters.
TAYLOR WESSING assists with outbound investment, IP protection and dispute resolution for Indian companies doing business in Europe, the Middle East and beyond. It also provides guidance to US, European and other international clients looking to enter the Indian market. The firm has a long history of working with Indian clients, with companies such as Glenmark Pharma, Aka, Ola Cabs, Cipla, Lupin, Sun Pharmaceuticals and State Bank of India on its roster. Taylor Wessing provides expertise in six key sectors: technology, media and communications; life sciences and healthcare; real estate and infrastructure; hotels; energy; and financial institutions.
The firm is advising one of India’s largest pharmaceutical companies in a multimillion-dollar dispute with its processor of plant materials for the production of pain relief active pharmaceutical ingredients. It was also counsel to Austrian mathematics education service provider GeoGebra on its acquisition by Think & Learn, which operates as BYJU’S. Partners Laurence Lieberman, Tandeep Minhas, Adam Marks, Vinod Bange, Stephan Doom and Colin McCall, and senior counsel Shilpa Vaswani, are key contacts for India.
THREE CROWNS has acted on some of the largest and most significant commercial and investment treaty claims with an Indian connection. The firm is involved in Geneva-seated LCIA arbitration between a private equity firm and the majority owners of a manufacturing company headquartered in India, where more than USD700 million is at stake. It is also acting for an Indonesian joint venture in a Geneva-seated ICC arbitration against an Indian heavy engineering company in relation to an engineering, procurement and construction contract for a power plant project in Southeast Asia. It is also counsel to affiliates of a large diversified Indian company in New York-seated ICC arbitration arising under a technology licence agreement for glass manufacturing.
The firm opened a Singapore office in February, further enhancing its reach for Indian clients. Three Crowns is “excellent”, says Shaneen Parikh, a partner and head of international arbitration at Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas. “They are extremely responsive and have a tremendous depth of experience.” Clients speak highly of partners Constantine Partasides QC, Georgios Petrochilus QC, Kathryn Khamsi, Gaëten Verhoosel QC and Manish Aggarwal.
REGIONAL & SPECIALIST
Firms are listed in alphabetical order.
ALLEN & GLEDHILL has been a trusted adviser in Singapore and across Southeast Asia to many Indian companies over the years, and the firm acted on some of the most prominent India-related deals in the past 12 months. In August last year, it advised Blackstone on its largest 2021 acquisition in Asia, when a fund of private equity firm Marble II acquired a controlling stake in IT services provider Mphasis for USD2.8 billion from another Blackstone fund, BCP Topco IX. When KKR acquired Sequoia Capital’s stake in personal care and beauty products company Vini Cosmetics for USD625 million, Allen & Gledhill was instructed as Singapore counsel to the creditors. At the time, the transaction was considered the largest private equity control deal to date in India’s personal care and beauty products sector.
In another assignment, the firm was engaged by Baron Capital in its USD285 million funding round along with other investors in Indian digital payments company Pine Labs. The firm also secured a role as counsel to Sequoia Capital India on its participation in the USD120 million series e-financing round of Indian online business-to-business marketplace, Moglix.
ANDERSON MORI & TOMOTSUNE has abundant experience in the India-Japan corridor, having assisted businesses in both countries on investments, trade and disputes. Last year, the firm advised Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group on Japanese law aspects of its USD2 billion purchase of a 74.9% stake in non-banking financial company Fullerton India Credit. Anderson Mori wins accolades from clients for its dedicated India practice.
Tsuyoshi Hasegawa, a specialist at Nippon Express, consulted the firm on India-related competition law and insider regulation. “Anderson Mori & Tomotsune is the best of all,” he says. The firm is “a specialist on Indian law”. Kentaro Takagi, a senior manager in the legal department at Sumitomo Wiring Systems, describes partner Ryo Kotoura as “very experienced, knowledgeable and business-oriented”, and credits his understanding of Indian business practices. Atsushi Iwanaga, a general manager in the legal and governance department at Air Water, consulted the firm for corporate governance issues relating to its Indian subsidiary. “Ryo Kotoura gives us legal advice and services quickly and collaborates well with local Indian law firms,” he says.
APPLEBY serves issuers, private equity investors and investment banks across all major offshore financial centres. The firm has built an innovative and collaborative culture to pioneer new deal structures and capital markets solutions. Appleby advised Carlyle Group’s special purpose investment holding firm, CA Magnum Holdings, on its USD1 billion bond to help fund the acquisition of a 95.4% stake in Hexaware Technologies. Several Mauritian entities were set up and involved as guarantors in the transaction to facilitate the bond issue and financing. Two financings – the mezzanine and senior – occurred simultaneously.
Another highlight saw the firm advise on the issue by Mauritius-based India Clean Energy Holdings of USD400 million 4.5% senior secured notes due in 2027. In addition, it advised on the issue by Clean Renewable Power (Mauritius) of USD363 million 4.25% senior secured notes due in 2027. Clean Renewable Power is a subsidiary of Hero Future Energies Asia, an independent power producer in India. “[Appleby is] the best firm in Mauritius,” says Amit Singh, a capital markets partner at Linklaters. “[Group managing partner] Malcolm Moller is commercial and solution-oriented.”
CLYDE & CO CLASIS regularly represents Indian entities in their disputes in Singapore and has secured numerous wins for clients at the Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC). One of its clients, an Indian logistics company, instructed the firm following a dispute with its Japanese joint venture partner and its Singapore subsidiary. The dispute arose over business opportunities in the region, corporate loans and security agreements. The Indian company initiated three SIAC arbitrations against the joint venture counterparties seeking damages, interest and costs. Clyde & Co succeeded in consolidating the three arbitrations and resisting a jurisdictional challenge brought by the counterparties.
The firm also assisted an Indian businessman in a dispute over a facility agreement between the counterparty and a company of which Clyde & Co’s client was director. The dispute arose from the collapse of a global conglomerate, which led to parallel insolvency proceedings in various jurisdictions. The claim in the Singapore proceedings exceeded USD70 million. Dispute resolution and international arbitration specialist Prakash Pillai heads the India practice.
Clients bank on CORRS CHAMBERS WESTGARTH’s strengths in technology, media and telecommunications, infrastructure, energy and resources, and education. Clients have included Respiri, Amity, Ramco, REA Group, Abbott Point Refinancing, Adani Group, Aditya Birla Minerals, Cipla, Infosys BPO and Genpact. Corrs’ IP capabilities are also harnessed by Indian companies seeking advice on brand and design protection – and pharmas requiring assistance with trademark and patent litigation.
On the infrastructure and energy front, the firm has worked with leading private and state-owned investors in Australia, particularly in relation to coal and water assets. It also specialises in the formation of public-private partnerships (PPPs). In addition, Corrs has a strong track record in the education sector, having advised Australian institutions such as Deakin University on their operations in India. This year, Deakin signed an MoU with India’s Academy of Scientific & Innovative Research to offer a joint programme to doctoral research students in India and Australia. Partner Arvind Dixit chairs the India country business group.
DENTONS RODYK boosted its India practice with the appointment of partner Ipshita Chaturvedi, bringing more than 14 years’ experience in international environmental law and natural resources management. Chaturvedi has worked with law firms and governments across India, Europe and the MENA region – as well as with organisations like the UN – to integrate principles of sustainable development in business and policymaking.
Dentons assisted on several India-related transactions, including the USD600 million acquisition of Singapore-based Great Learning Education by the educational technology company, BYJU’S. The firm also advised on Elevar Equity’s series A USD4 million investment in Cloudphysician, a tele-ICU tech startup; and Vy Capital’s funding in news aggregator Inshorts. “They are knowledgeable, very good to work with and able to assist in all legal matters,” says Ashish Tanna, co-founder of Aureus Analytics. “[Senior partner] Sunil Rai is very professional, approachable and has the best solution for issues. His team is prompt and very thorough in their documentation.” Senior partner and head of corporate practice Sivi Sivanesan, senior partner, litigation, dispute resolution and arbitration, and co-head of restructuring, insolvency and bankruptcy Ajinderpal Singh, and partner and co-head of employment practices and India desk Ray Chiang are core leaders of Rai’s India team.
DREW & NAPIER has developed a polished India practice that routinely serves Indian and South Asian clients on their corporate needs, IP protection and dispute resolution. The firm has acted in arbitrations and court actions, and taken on advisory roles in disputes involving a wide range of issues from international sanctions to multimillion-dollar plant, infrastructure and resource development.
Last year Drew & Napier, led by director of dispute resolution Kevin Lee, represented Italy as counsel in proceedings at the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) that were closed in a diplomatically sensitive dispute between India and Italy, following the implementation of a May 2020 award in the matter. The dispute centred on a notorious 2012 incident involving Italian merchant ship MT Enrica Lexie, in which two Italian marines faced criminal charges in India for the fatal shooting of two Indian fishermen during a confrontation in international waters off the Indian coast.
On the corporate side, Drew & Napier has helped establish tax-efficient funds with an India focus and assisted in the completion of cross-border deals. Chief executive officer Cavinder Bull, consultant, corporate & finance Leena Pinsler, deputy managing director, dispute resolution Randolph Khoo, director, corporate & finance Petrus Huang, and directors, dispute resolution Gary Low and Mahesh Rai are key India experts.
DUANE MORRIS & SELVAM is renowned for its capabilities in India capital markets deals, energy projects and project finance under the leadership of director Jamie Benson and director, corporate & energy practices Priyank Srivastava. The firm was counsel to the President of India and Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC) on the sale of 3.5% of outstanding shares in LIC by the president for about USD2.7 billion. The deal was the biggest IPO in India to date and included concurrent private placements outside India.
The firm advises ONGC Videsh on regulatory, compliance and contractual matters with government authorities and third-party service providers. Yogesh Pandey, chief legal consultant at ONGC Videsh, describes Srivastava as “an excellent professional with extensive industry expertise in global energy matters and cross-border project disputes, which is pertinent for companies like ours”. Sushmita Gandhi, a partner at IndusLaw, attests to Srivastava’s “fantastic job on cross-border assignments” and “tremendous knowledge in his field”. Gandhi adds: “What sets the firm apart from their international peers is their personal attention and involvement to assignments at even the partner and director level.”
ENSAFRICA’s South Africa and Mauritius offices form a crucial part of the firm’s India offering. The firm advised upGrad Education on competition law aspects of its acquisition of UNICAF, in a deal which required multi jurisdictional notifiability analysis for Africa, along with preparation and submission of merger filings in Nigeria and Zambia. On the contentious side, the firm advised the Republic of India in resisting enforcement in Mauritius of an arbitral award delivered by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague in favour of Cairn Energy and Cairn UK Holdings.
“We have worked with ENS for over 20 years and they have always met, and in some cases exceeded, our expectations,” says Heather Henriques, head of IP and governance at the Nelson Mandela Foundation. Henriques endorses executive, tax practice Arnaaz Camay for tax expertise and senior associate, intellectual property Delene Bertasso for IP. “Both individuals are outstanding in relation to their responsiveness, meticulousness and quality of advice provided.” Beena Chotai, CFO of ICICI Venture Funds Management, appreciates the firm’s “effective strategic advice and litigation planning”. Executives of corporate commercial practice, Sanjay Kassen and Mohamed Sajid Darsot, and executive and head of ENSafrica in Mauritius, Thierry Koenig, head the India team.
Although business activity between Italy and India is somewhat limited, GIANNI & ORIGONI is often the first port of call for advice when cross-border business interests align. The firm has closed a string of deals for Indian clients who have purchased stakes in the Italian technology, automotive, energy and infrastructure sectors over the years. In one matter, the firm advised Astaldi – which operates several international branches in Europe, Russia, Chile and India, among others – in relation to the company’s composition with a creditors’ proposal in line with Italian Insolvency Law, and the demerger of the company in favour of Webuild, creating one of Europe’s largest infrastructure players.
In January, it assisted Assicurazioni Generali on its EUR150 million (USD152 million) acquisition of a 25% stake in Future Generali India Insurance Company. Partner Rosario Zaccà leads the India desk. Rabindra Jhunjhunwala, a partner at Khaitan & Co, says Gianni is “one of the best law firms in Italy and surely one of the few, if not the only one, to have specific expertise in India”. He adds: “Zaccà provides very good support and is always willing to go the extra mile to get the deal done.”
HEUKING KÜHN LÜER WOJTEK runs an enthusiastic India practice dedicated to securing investments and commercial decisions on the Indo-German circuit. The firm has counselled clients across industries from the steel and automotive sectors to IT, health, agriculture, logistics and fashion. Heuking assisted shareholders of Evora IT Solutions on the sale of a majority stake to Allgeier through a structured, competitive bidding process that included Evora IT Solutions Bengaluru.
An Indian automotive company relied on the firm’s IP clout to defend itself against alleged patent infringement claims raised by a French company, which has launched 10 separate cases so far. In another contentious matter, the firm is representing an Indian electrical engineering company in court proceedings in Germany on claims related to its former German subsidiary. Heuking is also advising a subdivision within the Volkswagen Group in connection with cross-border restructuring of its group of companies, including an Indian entity and involving a stake held by an Indian financial investor company. Partner Martin Imhof is a primary contact.
KOBRE & KIM operates with a laser focus on cross-border disputes and investigations, particularly those relating to international fraud and misconduct. Clients have access to former US government lawyers from the US Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission, who now advise at the firm along with former federal prosecutors. In the past year, lawyer Sean Buckley and counsel Bill McGovern in New York led on multiple representations of ultra-high net-worth individuals and their family members in India extradition requests, while white-collar partner Vasu Muthyala in Hong Kong represented a senior executive of a global investment firm in internal and external investigations arising from a whistle-blower complaint and related fallout.
Muthyala also runs training and educational sessions for professionals and in-house lawyers on the impact of US anti-bribery, corruption, sanctions and anti-money laundering risks. In addition to its other practices, Kobre & Kim monetises judgement and arbitral awards on behalf of clients. Accomplished litigator John Han in Hong Kong advised Pinpoint Asset Management to monetise USD100 million in defaulted bonds issued by Rolta International and Rolta India.
MORI HAMADA & MATSUMOTO has forged strong India ties through its relationships with Indian law firms. Four partners from the India team – Chisako Takaya, Yohei Koyama, Kenichi Sekiguchi and Atsushi Inoue – have spent time at leading Indian law firms in the past. The firm also benefits from the experience of two India-qualified lawyers, foreign lawyer Subham Agarwala and Singapore senior associate Soni Tiwari. Recent accomplishments include advising Kubota Corporation on the preferential allotment, along with an open offer for the acquisition of shares, in Indian tractor manufacturer Escorts, and later assisting Kubota on acquiring control of Escorts; and advising ADK Holdings on acquiring majority ownership of Rage Communications, an independent agency in India specialising in digital experience design and e-commerce solutions. The firm also represented Osaka Gas in its investment in AG&P CGD HoldCo SPV3, a Singapore-based company developing city gas distribution networks city in India through Osaka Gas Singapore; and Tokyo Century Corporation on its joint venture with NTT Global Data Centres to collaborate on a data centre business in India.
NAGASHIMA OHNO & TSUNEMATSU provides a full-service offering for Indo-Japanese partnerships. The firm has a long history of advising on the incorporation of subsidiaries, the set-up of joint ventures with local companies, technical co-operation, corporate M&A, foreign exchange regulations, merger control rules, financing matters, labour law, dispute resolution and a wide range of general corporate issues.
The firm’s India practice operates primarily through India-qualified foreign lawyer Shejal Verma in Tokyo and partner Rashmi Grover in Singapore. Nagashima’s client list includes Suzuki Motor, Nissan Chemicals, Honda Motors, Nichirei Corporation, Daiichi Sankyo, Isuzu and Air Vistara. One Japanese client expresses his satisfaction with the firm’s guidance on establishing a joint venture with an Indian counterparty. “They helped us obtain favourable business conditions in the joint venture agreement,” he says, adding that the firm’s “wide network of offices worldwide is convenient for Japanese customers who want to explore investments in other countries”. Partners Masayuki Fukuda, Tadashi Yamamoto and Yoshikazu Hasegawa are also key contacts for India.
NISHIMURA & ASAHI is Japan’s largest international law firm with 18 offices and about 800 professionals around the world. The firm has a presence in Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya, Fukuoka, Beijing, Shanghai, Taipei, Hanoi, Yangon, Bangkok, Ho Chi Minh City, Singapore, New York, Dubai, Frankfurt and Dusseldorf, with an associate office in Jakarta and affiliate office in Hong Kong. Nishimura banked a slew of India-related mandates assisting Japanese clients in the past 12 months including: a leniency application helping secure a favourable order from the Competition Commission of India; securing an appeal with the Supreme Court of India in an indirect tax litigation where several billion rupees in tax demand was at stake; and conducting and closing an internal investigation on potential fraud by the local top management at its Indian subsidiary. It also advised a Japanese entity on closing an acquisition in Bangladesh in the health tech sector that has relevance to the Indian health market, and helping another Japanese client on vendor due diligence for its subsidiary in India. Partner Taeko Suzuki and associate Ayush Sharma are India specialists.
RAJAH & TANN runs a mature and highly experienced South Asia desk led by deputy managing partner and head of international arbitration Kelvin Poon. Its diversity of work in the past 12 months is testament to its multi-practice specialisation and explains its popularity among clients. Key matters in the past year include acting for: TML Holdings in its issuance of USD425 million 4.35% notes due in 2026, with a letter of comfort provided by Tata Motors; Vedanta in two matters relating to a Singapore-seated treaty arbitration under the UNCITRAL rules arising from claims exceeding USD3 billion against the Republic of India; and internal investigations into potential round-tripping by the Singapore associated companies of India’s Emami.
Ravi Prakash Bhagavathula, global CFO at TVS Supply Chain Solutions, speaks highly of deputy head of dispute resolution, Vikram Nair. “Vikram is extremely sharp and gets to the heart of any matter quickly. His biggest strength is the ability to finely and very creatively balance commercial and business imperatives with the legal risks and possibilities, and communicating his advice in a cogent manner to a business audience. His team was similarly orientated.”
SHOOK LIN & BOK offers solid and steadfast support to Indian clients using Singapore as a springboard for financing activities or dispute resolution. In one standout assignment, the firm advised a Singapore real estate sponsor in relation to INR4.25 billion (USD53.1 million) and INR6.25 billion green finance facilities granted to project companies in India for the development of two green certified business parks that implement environmentally conscious and sustainable measures in their construction and operation.
On the disputes side, the firm’s team, comprising senior partner Sarjit Singh Gill and partners Probin Dass and Jamal Siddique, acted for an Indian agriculture and fertiliser co-operative in arbitration proceedings against its Australian joint venture partner. Shook Lin & Bok is “one of the go-to law firms with deep connects”, says Siddharth Srivastava, a partner at Khaitan & Co. “They have a very friendly set of partners who take up matters responsibly.” Partner and foreign registered lawyer Aditi Mathur chairs the India practice.
TLT has invested heavily in its India practice, earning it credibility beyond the sphere of banking and finance to encompass litigation and enforcement, restructuring, financial crime, environmental and social governance, outsourcing, data protection and regulatory matters. A major highlight was its selection by the UK government to advise on the FTA currently being negotiated with India in consortium with McDermott Will & Emery and Borden Ladner Gervais.
In another significant achievement, the firm advised Axis Bank on the restructuring of Typhoo Tea. TLT advised the bank on its options and the ultimate restructuring transaction, including substantive amendments to the loan and security arrangements, as well as complex inter-creditor arrangements with suppliers and other stakeholders. The transaction involved recapitalisation and acquisition of the company by private equity firm Zetland Capital from the former owners, India’s Apeejay Surrendra Group. Partner of financial services, disputes and investigations Paul Gair and partner of banking and restructuring Kanika Kitchlu-Connolly jointly head the India group.
FIRMS TO WATCH
Firms are listed in alphabetical order.
ALSTON & BIRD represented The Coca-Cola Company in securing a landmark precedential ruling last year from the US Patent and Trademark Office’s Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB), granting the company’s petition to cancel two trademark registrations held by respondent Meenaxi Enterprise from using the brands “Thums Up” and “Limca” in the US. In a rare application of the Lanham Act’s section 14(3) – which allows for cancellation of registrations if a trademark is being used to misrepresent the source of goods – the TTAB said Meenaxi registered the internationally famous trademarks in a blatant attempt to deceive US consumers into believing its soda products were US versions of these India-based drinks. The trademarks had been held by Coca-Cola in India for decades.
The board also noted that Meenaxi’s activities were “not isolated instances, but instead form part of a broader pattern of copying the word marks and logos of others, particularly brands from India”. Partner Holly Hawkins Saporito and trademark counsel Lauren Timmons (who has since left the firm) led on the matter.
BAKER HOSTETLER has honed its IP expertise to assist both large and mid-level companies in the protection and monetisation of their IP assets in the US and worldwide. “The firm is second to none in its IP services,” says Pankaj Soni, a partner at Remfry & Sagar. Vivek Dahiya, a partner at Boudhik IP, says: “Tayan is highly capable and we trust his advice on any matter brought before him.”
Baker Hostetler is representing both the government and fiduciaries involved in the Samuels Jewelers and related bankruptcy cases. The examiner was appointed by the US Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware to perform a demanding 120-day investigation regarding the involvement of US Chapter 11 debtors, and their officers and directors, in the largest bank fraud in India’s history.
It is also advising a manufacturer on an internal investigation and the preparation and filing of a prior disclosure to address potential errors or violations regarding the submission of incorrect tariff classifications and related issues. The case requires a review of all of the company’s imports from India, as well as a review of India-sourced products imported from other locations.
BRYAN CAVE LEIGHTON PAISNER has collaborated with Indian clients and law firms on a variety of matters, from asset financing and M&A to corporate restructuring, real estate and litigation. The firm advised Pristine Surgical on its acquisition of Bengaluru-based sustainable hyper-scale data service provider Mimyk Medical Simulations in relation to a data centre development in Mumbai; and Fairstead on cross-border structuring and other formation issues concerning a new Indian subsidiary. It is also advising an Indian company on possible enforcement action of an arbitral award against one or more of its US subsidiaries.
“BCLP has an excellent set of lawyers,” says Vihang Virkar, a partner at Lumiere Law Partners. “All partners and others that we worked with are efficient, technically sound and great at getting deals done. Their extensive exposure to India gives them an edge as they understand how Indian businesses function, and what typical concerns Indian companies have.” Partners Jonathan Morris, Jamie Wiseman-Clarke, Oran Gelb and John Welge are well regarded.
FENWICK & WEST’s India team is led by partner and chair of IP practice Rajiv Patel, and offers rich practice expertise in industries such as software and IT, life sciences and clean technology. Past clients include Reliance Industries, ShopClues, Tata, InMobi, Blue Lava Wireless, GupShup and Druva Software. The firm has also assisted US-based companies such as Facebook, Cisco Systems, Symantec and Synopsis on their India-related operations.
Last year, the firm represented Stripe, a technology company that builds economic infrastructure for the internet, in its agreement to acquire Recko, a payments reconciliation software provider based in Bengaluru. The firm has also shared best practices in India. Former Fenwick partner Vic Schacter – who is now president of the Foundation for Sustainable Rule of Law Initiatives – promoted judicial reform, alternative dispute resolution and judicial case management in India. In collaboration with the high courts of India, he also served as a project director for legal reform programmes in New Delhi, Bengaluru and Kerala.
HUGHES HUBBARD & REED has kept busy managing a series of acquisitions for Indian multinational IT giant Wipro in the past year. These have included: Wipro’s USD21 million acquisition of LeanSwift Solutions, a Florida-based system integrator; the USD80 million purchase of US-based consulting program management company Convergence Acceleration Solutions; and a USD230 million acquisition of Austin, Texas-based Edgile, a cybersecurity consulting provider. Indian pharma Cipla and hospitality chain Oyo Rooms are also clients. “HHR is very client-oriented, and provides effective and timely legal advice,” says Inderpreet Sawhney, group general counsel and chief compliance officer at Infosys. “We would recommend [partner] Ken Lefkowitz and [counsel] Alexander Rahn … they are excellent lawyers, with a solution-oriented approach and substantial M&A experience.” Partners Chuck Samuelson and Gus Petropoulos are also key India-focused contacts.
Global technology boutique law firm INVENTUS LAW runs an exciting practice representing high-growth startup companies, founders, angel investors, incubators, accelerators, venture capital and private equity investors worldwide. Anil Advani leads the firm of 21 lawyers from its headquarters in Palo Alto, California. Other offices are in Dallas, Bengaluru and Delhi. The firm advised Akudo, a learning-focused neobank for teenagers, on its USD4.2 million seed round led by Y Combinator, JAFCO Asia, Incubate Fund India and AET Fund. The startup aims to use the capital infusion to expand its team and refine its product offering. It also acted for mobile e-commerce enabler startup Bikayi in its USD10.8 million series A funding round led by Sequoia India. Bikayi enables small and medium-sized businesses to scale up on digital platforms and reach wider audiences. Bengaluru-based Cashfree, a digital payments company, also relied on the firm’s expertise when the State Bank of India invested an undisclosed amount in the fintech startup.
Vinita Mehra, head of the India practice and director and leader of global business practice at KEGLER BROWN HILL & RITTER, offers a unique proposition to clients with her knowledge of business and cultural practices in both India and the American Midwest. Kegler Brown’s skills at navigating corporate, IP, finance and employment issues have propelled clients from the healthcare, technology, software, education and big data industries to return time and again. The firm is currently assisting Crimson Cup, a producer of organic, direct trade gourmet coffee beans roasted daily in Columbus, Ohio, on a global franchise strategy for the coffee salon business in India, Bangladesh, Nepal and the UAE.
“Vinita has always been very clear, precise and detailed with her communication,” says Heena Shah, chief people officer at Mes. “Kegler Brown’s services are very concise, insightful and very accommodating towards our long-term goals. They have a good understanding of global businesses, and especially Indian businesses. They have helped us expand globally, register entities, and have contracts and agreements in nine countries. We use them exclusively.”
KILPATRICK TOWNSEND & STOCKTON has more than 600 lawyers and 21 offices across the US and in Beijing, Shanghai, Stockholm and Tokyo. The firm provides a full-spectrum offering, handling both inbound and outbound matters with an India connection. KTS recently counselled a number of US acquirers on their purchases of stakes in Indian entities, and separately advised on sourcing and technology matters, operational and governance issues, HR, foreign exchange and local supply chain arrangements.
The firm is currently managing 1,079 patents and 2,044 trademarks in India on behalf of its clients. Douglas Sperry, vice president and US legal group counsel at Equifax, recently consulted the firm for a build-operate-transfer venture with an India-based provider to support Equifax’s IT operations. “KTS has unique expertise in this area that other law firms did not seem to have,” says Sperry. “They are experienced in negotiating these types of relationships, and have a key understanding of Indian laws and processes.” Sperry endorses partners Sonia Baldia and Josh Ganz, who he says are “excellent”. He also highly recommends the firm’s privacy and M&A teams.
OSBORNE CLARKE has advised Indian businesses in Europe and European businesses in India for more than two decades. Clients such as HCL, Larsen & Toubro Infotech, Aditya Birla and Mindtree have relied on the firm for guidance on corporate matters, IT, antitrust, litigation and data protection, as well as a host of employment law issues.
The firm shares a close relationship with Indian firm BTG Legal, led by former Osborne Clarke India group co-head, Prashant Mara. This year, the firm was counsel to Infosys when it acquired Germany-based digital experience and marketing agency, oddity. It also represented Wipro on various employment, data protection and IT commercial projects in Europe; and Tech Mahindra on various acquisitions and other transactions in the region. “We have a very good relationship with Osborne Clarke,” says Norbert Josef Spinner, general manager and associate general counsel at Wipro. “It is a great firm that provides speedy expert advice.” Spinner highly recommends partner and employment specialist for Germany, Timo Karsten.
SQUIRE PATTON BOGGS had a relatively quiet year in India following the departure of some of its key team members. Nevertheless, the firm boasts practitioners with deep India experience who are poised to take instructions on banking, finance, IP, trade, policy matters and disputes. Frank Samolis, co-chair of the firm’s international trade practice, is also chair of Squire’s India group. He advises clients on international trade matters including trade law, policy and legislation, and international trade negotiations.
In New York, international affairs adviser Frank Wisner leverages his vast experience as a former US ambassador to India along with his track record in the Middle East, Europe and Asia to assist the firm’s clients in India. Singapore-based registered foreign lawyer Bindu Janardhanan offers expertise in dispute resolution and arbitration, with significant experience in banking, finance and IP matters in Hong Kong and India. Partner Jessica Kenworthy, also in Singapore, heads the Asia-Pacific banking team and specialises in complex commodity financings with a focus on transactions in India, Southeast Asia, China, Indonesia and Mongolia.
REGIONAL FIRMS TO WATCH
Firms are listed in alphabetical order.
ATSUMI & SAKAI guides Indian businesses on their forays into Japan, and assists Japanese companies with their investments and ventures in India. The firm has offices in Tokyo, Kojimachi, New York, London and Frankfurt. Atsumi & Sakai advised a Thai company on an anti-dumping investigation initiated by the Directorate General of Trade Remedies in India concerning imports originating in or exported from Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam. Senior partners Miho Niunoya and Shintaro Hamasu, and partner Ashish Jejurkar are primary contacts for India.
With more than 750 lawyers operating from offices in Calgary, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto and Vancouver, Canadian firm BORDEN LADNER GERVAIS acts as a bridge for Indo-Canadian partnerships, serving clients on IP, litigation and corporate transactional matters. The firm celebrated a huge win when the UK government’s Department for International Trade awarded it a contract in consort with TLT and McDermott Will & Emery to advise on the UK’s upcoming FTA negotiations with India. Matthew Kronby, a partner in the firm’s international trade and investment practice, will lead the project for the consortium. Manoj Pundit and David Madsen are key contacts for India.
DFDL capitalises on its geographical reach across Southeast Asia to attract India-focused clients with an interest in the region. The firm has advised clients such as Birla Lao Pulp and Plantation, Spice Mobile, Tata Steel, Apollo Tyres, Wolkem India and the Export-Import Bank of India on power projects, financings, tax, IP and acquisitions. Nishant Choudhary, a partner and managing director of DFDL Myanmar, was recently re-elected for the third consecutive year as a board member of the India-Myanmar Chamber of Commerce in Yangon. Established in 2017 as a non-profit organisation focused on boosting bilateral trade between Myanmar and India, the chamber’s goal is to promote closer economic ties between the two nations by working to increase bilateral trade to USD5 billion from the present estimated value of USD2 billion.
Clients flock to ELIAS NEOCLEOUS & CO, the largest law firm in Cyprus, for its impressive tax practice and guidance on using the jurisdiction as a gateway for investment both into and out of India. In one recent assignment, the firm advised a Cyprus-based corporate client of Scandinavian origin with their investment in the popular Hyderabad-based biryani restaurant chain, Paradise Food Court. The firm also assisted South Africa’s KLT Automotive and Tubular, which manufactures vehicle chassis, on its proposed collaboration with a chassis manufacturing entity in India. The company supplies products to leading original equipment manufacturers including Ford Motors and Volvo.
Elias Neocleous also deals with questions on the advantages of setting up a Cyprus entity as an intermediary company, given the recent tax reforms and amendments made to treaties between India and Cyprus. In addition, the firm has provided recurring legal assistance to a Nordic corporate client on its investment in hospitals and diagnostic centres in India. Legal consultant Motaher Chowdhury heads the firm’s India desk.
FLADGATE has cultivated deep relationships with both the Indian diaspora in the UK and Indian companies seeking to invest in the country. The firm has a track record of advising on a wide range of matters from corporate and commercial to real estate, dispute resolution and international arbitration. Fladgate is also a popular choice for ultra-high net-worth individuals, and promoters and controlling shareholders of listed and private companies in India seeking guidance on personal wealth management, corporate investments and financial planning.
Last year, the firm advised Bharti on the sale of its 20% stake in SB Energy Holdings to Adani Green Energy for USD3.5 billion, in one of India’s biggest renewable energy acquisitions to date. It is also advising the Mahindra Formula E Team on various contractual matters, and an India-based purchaser on its GBP86 million (USD102 million) acquisition of a company that owns a commercial site in Kensington, London. In April, partner Mythily Katsaris became head of the India desk, taking over from Sunil Sheth, who will now focus on his role as senior partner while supporting the India team.
HENGELER MUELLER co-ordinates transactions for Indian and German parties in Germany and across Europe through collaborations with its network of “best friend” law firms. Partners Daniela Favoccia and Carsten van de Sande, and senior associate Amit Datta are key members of the India team. Favoccia counsels companies and their executive and non-executive bodies and shareholders in all areas of corporate law and M&A transactions. Van de Sande represents German and foreign companies in German courts, as well as in international arbitration and alternative dispute resolution proceedings. Datta advises corporate clients from the communication, technology and media sectors on all aspects of IP and IT law. Hengeler Mueller also advises Indian companies on restructuring, antitrust matters and employment law.
Brazilian law firm LEVY & SALOMAO has been a trusted adviser to Hindalco group subsidiary, Novelis Group, for more than 15 years. Last August, the firm advised Novelis Corporation, an indirect wholly owned subsidiary of Novelis, on the issuance and sale of USD750 million of 3.250% senior notes due in 2026, and USD750 million of 3.875% senior notes due in 2031. The notes are guaranteed on a senior unsecured basis by Novelis and certain subsidiaries of the company including Novelis do Brasil. Partner Luiz Roberto de Assis and associate Fabio Kupfermann Rodarte are primary contacts for India.
RWK GOODMAN is the result of a merger completed in May between Royds Withy King and Goodman Derrick. The combined firm has more than 350 specialist lawyers across the UK – in Bath, Bristol, London, Oxford and Swindon – covering its business, personal and injury practices. Last May, the firm, led by partner Priya Pandya, worked with the State Bank of India UK on a build-to-rent refinancing; and on converting a Shropshire office development into 131 flats. Partner Milan Kapadia, who specialises in banking, commercial and civil litigation, and restructuring and recovery, has rich experience on India matters, having advised the UK branches of numerous Indian banks on lending transactions and litigation.
WALKERS GLOBAL supports clients with in-depth knowledge of the legal, regulatory and commercial environments of Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Guernsey, Jersey and Ireland. The firm focuses particularly on contentious and non-contentious corporate and finance law, investment funds, private equity, structured products, capital markets, private capital and trusts. Last year, partner Bicrom Das, with assistance from associate Aoife Murphy, acted as Cayman counsel to Augment Infrastructure Managers on its investment in CleanMax, an Indian renewables company. The fund manager is a joint venture between Augment Infrastructure Partners, founded by Viktor Kats and Darius Lilaoonwala, and African Infrastructure Investment Managers, a subsidiary of Old Mutual Alternative Investments, Africa’s largest alternative investment manager. Augment will invest in mid-market growth infrastructure platforms across emerging markets in the renewable energy, water, digital infrastructure and transport sectors.
WINSTON & STRAWN has more than 500 litigation lawyers, 200 IP experts and 300 corporate and transactional specialists with a major presence in the US at 10 offices, connecting with clients globally from its hubs in Brussels, London, Paris, Shanghai, Hong Kong and Sao Paolo. In May, Winston & Strawn represented Investcorp India Acquisition Corp, a newly incorporated blank cheque company, on announcing its IPO of 22.5 million shares, priced at USD10 per share, for listing on the Nasdaq Global Market. Investcorp India intends to focus on target India industries it expects to have high potential for growth, generating strong returns for its shareholders.