In its fifth annual survey of international law firms, India Business Law Journal reveals the frontrunners in the race for India-related work

As the global economic environment continues to stabilize, Indian and international companies are eyeing each others’ markets for new opportunities. Capital markets and mergers and acquisitions transactions are gradually returning to previous levels, while certain sectors – notably energy and natural resources, technology, real estate and healthcare – are showing signs of continuing strength. “We are pleased that the market is now picking up, which in turn means more opportunities for us,” says David Jacobs, the head of the India global focus group at Baker & McKenzie.

Lawyers and clients alike hail continuing reforms in India, which are encouraging trade and investment. “India’s long-term commitment to continue opening up its M&A market through a sustained programme of legal and policy reforms is helping to drive global interest from investors looking to participate in its fast-growing economy,” says Sumesh Sawhney, a partner at Clifford Chance in London.

Much remains unreformed, of course, to the chagrin of law firms. Sandeep Katwala, the head of the India group at Linklaters, points to a few key obstacles, among them: uncertainty in the interpretation of laws, difficulty in ensuring the enforceability of contracts, ambiguity with regard to dispute resolution and confusion over the government’s requirements for regulatory permits and approvals.

But perhaps the greatest reform on lawyers’ wish-lists is that of the country’s legal market itself. Denied the opportunity to open offices in India, foreign firms have been forced to assemble their India teams elsewhere. London, New York, Washington, Singapore and Hong Kong are the dominant hubs, but other centres are vying for a piece of the pie. Haskell Slaughter, based in Birmingham, Alabama, for example, is working with Indian companies looking to access the US market through the lower-cost, looser-regulated southern states.

Foreign firms have also been forging partnerships with their Indian counterparts as a means of cutting down on excessive travel, smoothing the cross-border workflow and straddling the divide between Indian and foreign law expertise. Some of these partnerships are viewed as preludes to eventual mergers, if and when such moves are permitted.

“Law firms based outside India benefit by having an association with Indian law firms,” says Jitendra Verma, the founder and managing director of Lifecare Innovations, a biotechnology company based in Gurgaon.

Many corporate lawyers have been disappointed by the lack of progress on the liberalization of the legal market. “India has shot itself in the foot by not allowing international law firms to open offices [in the country] and benefiting from a wider international network and international standards,” says Andrew Ong, the vice-president for legal and IP at Nokia Corporation in Espoo, Finland.

Andrew Ong Vice-President for Legal and IP Nokia

But such disappointment, it seems, has not tempered the demands that corporate counsel place on their India-focused advisers: “Firms must have the distinct ability to be able to approach legal matters with a cross-border perspective and offer practical solutions,” says Sven Deimann, the senior legal counsel at Bombardier Transport in Montreal. “The firm must also be prepared to address senior management’s queries expeditiously.”

Rigorous research, wide participation

Against this backdrop of optimism tinged with frustration, India Business Law Journal has once again been investigating the India-related activities of law firms around the world. Our survey – now in its fifth year – draws on an analysis of more than 600 law firms from every continent that have recorded India-related deals, transactions or cases over the past 12 months. Although it is difficult to achieve complete objectivity, India Business Law Journal has attempted to provide insightful conclusions based on detailed research, extensive editorial experience and a vast network of contacts.

As well as soliciting hundreds of submissions from candidate law firms, we have combed carefully through public and other records and consulted domestic and international lawyers. Corporate counsel and other law firm clients from India and abroad have been particularly helpful. We have also received invaluable assistance from Indian and international media.

Based on this research, India Business Law Journal is pleased to reveal its selections of the top 10 foreign law firms for India-related work (page XX). In addition, we list 10 firms that are considered key players in the burgeoning business of India-related legal services (page XX), and another 10 firms that are classified as significant players (page XX).

Then there are 40 “firms to watch” (page XX). These are the firms that appear poised to attract greater levels of India-related work. They may not all have the largest India practices, but we believe, on the evidence available, that they are committed to the country and hungry for interesting, challenging and lucrative India-related assignments.

As in last year’s survey, we extend our editorial gaze to regional and local firms around the world, particularly those in key developed economies such as Singapore, Canada and the European Union, but also those in emerging regions such as South America and sub-Saharan Africa. We identify 20 firms in this category that have demonstrated excellence in India-related work (see page XX).

The final 10 of our top 100 is a selection of niche and boutique firms, large and small, covering fields as diverse as technology, media, IP, immigration and the burgeoning practice of offshore and onshore special-jurisdiction work (page XX). As India becomes more integrated into the global marketplace, there will be an increasing demand for such specialists.

As in previous years, the majority of the leading firms hail from the US and England. However, firms from several other developed markets, including Canada, Australia, Singapore, France, Germany, the Netherlands and Spain, are also recognized.

In addition, several law firms from emerging economies are included in our tables. As India forges deeper links with other developing nations – often in its search for natural resources – the role of such firms is growing rapidly. “As one of the more significant emerging markets, South Africa is moving closer to peers such as India,” Michael Katz, the chairman of Edward Nathan Sonnenbergs in Johannesburg, noted recently.

The top 10 firms

Four new firms enter this year’s top 10: DLA Piper, which officially became the world’s largest law firm last month, Latham & Watkins, Milbank Tweed Hadley & McCloy and Norton Rose.

DLA Piper promoted Singapore-based Biswajit Chatterjee, a key lawyer for India transactions, to partner in January. The firm, led by Stephen Peepels in Hong Kong, served as international counsel to the Indian government, acting through the Department of Disinvestment, as selling shareholder on Coal India’s US$3.4 billion IPO, India’s largest. The firm’s Munich and Cologne offices, meanwhile, advised Gehrlicher Solar on a renewable energies industry joint venture with Greenforce Enviro in India.

Milbank Tweed Hadley & McCloy bolstered its India practice with the addition of Sanjeet Malik as an of-counsel in its Hong Kong office. Malik will help coordinate the firm’s India practice and handle cross-border corporate and financing transactions. “We have seen an increased amount of work coming out of India,” said Glenn Gerstell, the Washington-based head of the firm’s India practice.

Norton Rose, led by partner Richard Crosby, provided international advice to HSBC on its purchase of RBS’ Indian retail and commercial banking business. The firm also represented ICICI Bank on the refinancing of Mahindra Forgings Europe, a subsidiary of Indian automotive group Mahindra & Mahindra.

Meanwhile, Latham & Watkins this month represented Citigroup Global Markets, Deutsche Bank (Singapore), HSBC and the Royal Bank of Scotland, in connection with ICICI’s US$1 billion Rule 144A and Regulation S bond offering due in 2016. Last year it advised TLG Capital, a private investment company, on its investment in Calcutta-based Re-feel Cartridge Engineering, India’s largest printer cartridge refilling network. It also acted as special US counsel to MakeMyTrip, India’s largest online travel agency, on its NASDAQ listing and US$80.5 million initial public offering (IPO). The deal was the first US IPO by an Indian company since 2006. Latham & Watkins went on to represent MakeMyTrip on its US$125.8 million follow-on offering of 5,244,000 shares on the NASDAQ Global Market.

Shearman & Sterling won the role of underwriters’ counsel in connection with MakeMyTrip’s listing and IPO. It also seized roles on big-ticket deals, like Reliance Holding USA’s US$1.5 billion guaranteed senior note offering, and represented Aditya Birla in the restructuring of its cement business and the acquisition of Columbian Chemicals. Shearman & Sterling also represented Jefferies Finance and RBC Capital Markets in connection with the financing for US outsourcer iGate’s acquisition of Patni Computer Systems, a Mumbai-based IT services company. In addition, Norwest Venture Partners and Xander Group called on the firm to advise on its purchase of a stake in Ahmedabad-based road builder Sadbhav Infrastructure Projects for ₹4 billion (US$86 million).

India’s energy needs have taken centre stage over the past year. It was perhaps partly for this reason that Allen & Overy appointed Angus Jones, a leading Australian energy and resources lawyer, to its global energy group based in Perth. Jones will advise on oil and gas, renewable energy and mining projects in India and other major markets. Allen & Overy advised Vedanta Resources on its US$9.6 billion purchase of a majority stake in Cairn India. “This is a landmark deal for Vedanta and the Indian market,” says London partner Sanjeev Dhuna. The sale – when it is complete – will see Vedanta become a major player in India’s oil and gas industry. The firm also advised Reliance Industries on its oil and gas partnership with BP.

Top 10 firms*

*Listed in alphabetical order

Allen & Overy

Clifford Chance

Davis Polk & Wardwell

DLA Piper

Jones Day

Latham & Watkins

Linklaters

Milbank Tweed Hadley & McCloy

Norton Rose

Shearman & Sterling

Linklaters has also strengthened its Asia energy practice. In January, it transferred energy partner James Douglass from London to Beijing. The firm advised on the financing provided by Chinese lenders for China Light & Power’s 1,300 megawatt Jhajjar independent power project in the Indian state of Haryana. It also advised Germany’s Postbank Group on the sale of its Indian mortgage lending subsidiary, Deutsche Postbank Home Finance, to a consortium led by Dewan Housing Finance. In addition, Linklaters advised on the sale of RBS’ Indian retail and commercial banking business to HSBC.

Davis Polk & Wardwell has boosted its India transaction strengths with the recruitment of partner and head of IPO transactions Bonnie Chan and partners Antony Dapiran and Paul Chow. Partners Margaret Tahyar in New York and Kirtee Kapoor in Hong Kong advised ICICI Bank on its Rule 144A/Regulation S offering of US$1 billion in notes. “Davis Polk & Wardwell has the ability to offer a solution to every possible hurdle,” says SK Honnesh, the vice-president of legal at Reliance Industries in Mumbai, which the firm advised in connection with a US$1.5 billion senior notes offering.

Meanwhile, Clifford Chance, with a team led by Sawhney, advised Evolution Securities and Renaissance Capital on the IPO and listing on the London Stock Exchange’s Alternative Investment Market (AIM) of Jubilant Energy, a Dutch company with Indian oil and gas exploration and production assets. The firm recently ended its two-year tie-up with AZB & Partners, a leading Indian law firm, blaming disappointing levels of referral work between the two firms.

Jones Day advised Adani Enterprises in connection with its US$850 million qualified institutional placement (QIP), the largest QIP recorded. It also raised the profile of its India group by naming Sushma Jobanputra as partner-in-charge of its Singapore office. Jobanputra focuses on banking and finance matters covering Southeast Asia and India. “Singapore serves as a gateway to India, particularly with respect to the capital markets,” says Stephen Brogan, the managing partner of Jones Day in Washington.

Key players

Baker & McKenzie has closed several India-related transactions over the last year. It represented National Thermal Power Corporation in relation to its acquisition of coal mines in Indonesia, and is acting for Coal India on its purchase of a coal mine in Indonesia. The firm also acted for the State Bank of India (SBI), the mandated lead arranger in a US$500 million syndicated term loan facility for Indian Railway Finance Corporation. Baker & McKenzie also flexed its banking muscle, advising the SBI on a US$167.7 million credit facility provided to PFS Shipping (Singapore), acting for Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation, Mizuho Corporate Bank and the Bank of Mitsubishi UFJ in a US$240 million term loan facility for Power Finance Corporation and working on several other India-related loans. The firm also acted for Prozone International on several real estate investments and for American Natural Soda Ash Corporation in connection with an anti-dumping investigation by Indian trade authorities.

Bird & Bird advised Elder Pharmaceuticals, a company listed on the Mumbai stock exchange, on its proposed acquisition of AIM-listed Neutrahealth for £12.2 million (US$20 million). The firm also advised Gajam India on its incorporation in the UK and the obtaining of a grant from the Shell Foundation for the provision of solar lanterns, smokeless cooking stoves and water purifiers. Bird & Bird is one of several firms that would like to see further reforms in India. “We would be keen to see further liberalizations in the foreign direct investment policy in sectors such as retail and insurance,” says London-based partner Divya Sharma.

Key players*

*Listed in alphabetical order

Ashurst

Baker & McKenzie

Bird & Bird

Clyde & Co

Dewey & LeBoeuf

Dorsey & Whitney

Kelley Drye & Warren

Mayer Brown

O’Melveny & Myers

Pinsent Masons

Clyde & Co, which recently changed its Indian associated firm from ALMT Legal to fledgling firm Clasis Law, foresees increased activity in the real estate and construction sector in India. “There are great opportunities in India, China and Brazil,” says partner John Morris. The firm advised on a deal to support the expansion of Dewan Housing Finance Corporation, a private-sector housing finance company. It also advised Dubai-based Zulekha Hospitals Group on obtaining a US$24 million convertible loan facility from the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the private-sector lending arm of the World Bank Group, to finance its India expansion. “They have a wide spectrum of experts who are available at short notice,” says Manoj Desai, general counsel of the Indian-owned, Dubai-headquartered Dodsal Group, a longstanding client.

In 2010, Kelley Drye & Warren and its Mumbai affiliate Wakhariya & Wakhariya represented Novartis Vaccines & Diagnostics and Novartis Pharma in the acquisition of the 49% equity interest held by Aventis Pharma in India’s Chiron Behring Vaccines. The deal was valued at US$23 million. The firm also advised Sprint Nextel in the formation of a joint venture with Pune-based Persistent Systems. It represented SBI Holdings in its acquisition of a 100% equity interest in the State Bank of India’s private equity business, advised Matheson Tri-Gas in the formation of an industrial gases joint venture in India with K-Air Gases India, and represented Tata Advanced Systems in negotiations for the formation of a joint venture company to manufacture parts of the Lockheed Martin C130 military aircraft in Hyderabad. The senior counsel of one company said it selected the firm “because of its expertise and prior performance”.

O’Melveny & Myers has expanded its India practice by hiring Pooja Sinha as counsel in its Singapore office. It served as international counsel to Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan India and SBI Capital Markets in a US$1.7 billion further public offering (FPO) by Power Grid India. The legal team was led by Andrew Hutton. The firm also acted as sole international counsel in a further public offering of Shipping Corporation of India, which was valued at about US$260 million. Singapore partner David Makarechian led the team.

Pinsent Masons sees bright prospects in India-related construction matters, with Brazil, China and India expected to account for much of the growth in the global construction market from US$7.5 trillion in 2010 to US$12.7 trillion by 2020. The firm advised on a £4.8 million (US$7.7 million) cooperation agreement between Ashok Leyland, an Indian commercial vehicle manufacturer, and British bus builder Optare. Andrew Hornigold led the firm’s team. Pinsent Masons also advised PACE, a British digital television technology company, on its acquisition of Hyderabad-based software supplier Latens Systems for £28.75 million (US$46 million). Michelle Kershaw and Andrew Black led the team of advisers.

Ashurst advised Citi, Deutsche Bank, BofA Merrill Lynch, ENAM, Kotak and Morgan Stanley as lead managers to the Coal India IPO and represented Jubilant Energy, a Dutch oil and gas group focused on India, on the largest oil and gas AIM IPO in 2010. Lawyers at the firm see heightened activity in the Indian telecommunications sector. “Lack of robust governance has threatened to mar the sector,” notes London partner Dhana Doobay. But “despite these setbacks, the market has continued to grow.”

Dorsey & Whitney advised SKIL Ports & Logistics, which develops, owns and operates port and logistics facilities in India, on the raising of £76 million following its admission to trade on the AIM.

Meanwhile, Dewey & LeBoeuf advised ONGC Videsh on a new Kazakh oil exploration and production agreement project.

Corporate partners William Charnley and Paul de Bernier headed a Mayer Brown team advising Guernsey-based Caparo Energy, which focuses on the India wind power market, on a £50.18 million placing of ordinary shares and related admission to trade on the AIM.

Significant players

This year, Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton has advised Tata Steel on its ₹34.77 billion (US$765 million) follow-on offering of equity shares. In 2010, it acted for Citigroup Global Markets India and Deutsche Equities India as underwriters in a US$127 million Reg S/Rule 144A block trade by HCL Corporation of shares in HCL Technologies on the National Stock Exchange of India and the Bombay Stock Exchange. It also advised Citigroup Global Markets India as underwriter in the US$211 million block trade by Rabobank International of shares in Yes Bank. On the M&A side, the firm clinched a role advising TPG in its acquisition of Vishal Retail, a complex transaction that required separate agreements with Vishal’s secured and unsecured creditors and proceedings before the Delhi High Court. The transaction is the first significant distressed-asset buyout in India.

Significant players*

*Listed in alphabetical order

Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld

Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton

Foley Hoag

Herbert Smith

King & Spalding

Kirkland & Ellis

Pepper Hamilton

Simpson Thacher & Bartlett

Slaughter and May

White & Case

Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld has profited from growth in energy-related work. “This is partly attributable to a recovery in private equity and partly attributable to a substantial increase in work related to Indian energy and infrastructure,” says Robert Nelson, a partner in San Francisco. The firm advised Mahindra & Mahindra in connection with a solar equipment purchase from Sunpower and Orenda Magellan of Canada, Thyssen Krupp Uhde and private equity funds run by Paul Soros and PC Chatterjee in a series of distributed-generation biofuel and biomass projects.

Pepper Hamilton recently hired Soumya Sharma of Mayer Brown in Chicago to join its India practice in New York. The firm advised Mastek, an Indian technology company, in its acquisition of most of the assets of a US insurance data system company; QPS, a medical technology company, in its acquisition of a majority stake in India’s Bioserve Clinical Research; Nasdaq-listed ExlService Holdings in connection with the acquisition of PDMA, a US software company; and Commercial Engineers & Body Builders Co, a manufacturer of road and rail vehicle bodies, in connection with an international placement of equity securities as part of its IPO and listing in India.

Kirkland & Ellis represented US technology and operations company iGate Corporation in its acquisition of a majority stake in Patni Computer Systems for about US$1.22 billion. Partner Srinivas Kaushik represented iGATE on the share purchase. Kaushik also advised Bain Capital on its US$650 million purchase of a stake in Hero Investment in April this year. The firm also advised The Hardt Group in the sale of its Cenco and Atas Refinery assets, in California and Turkey respectively, to Cals Refineries, an Indian oil refinery and petrochemicals company. In another transaction, Kirkland & Ellis represented Glodyne Technoserve in its acquisition of US-based IT support services company DecisionOne.

Firms to watch*

*Listed in alphabetical order

Addleshaw Goddard

Baker & Hostetler

Barlow Lyde & Gilbert

Berwin Leighton Paisner

Brown Rudnick

Chadbourne & Parke

Cooley Godward Kronish

Covington & Burling

Eversheds

Field Fisher Waterhouse

Fladgate

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer

Fulbright & Jaworski

Gibson Dunn & Crutcher

Goodwin Procter

Greenberg Traurig

Haskell Slaughter

Hogan Lovells

K&L Gates

Kaye Scholer

Lawrence Graham

Mishcon de Reya

Nabarro

Nixon Peabody

Olswang

Osborne Clarke

Reed Smith

Salans

Sidley Austin

Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom

SNR Denton

Squire Sanders Hammonds

Stephenson Harwood

Stradling Yocca Carlson & Rauth

Sullivan & Cromwell

Taylor Wessing

Vinson & Elkins

Watson Farley & Williams

Wedlake Bell

Wragge & Co

Slaughter and May’s India practice attracted its fair share of work with the firm handling a wide range of India-related mandates, including bond restructurings, mergers and acquisitions, tax structuring and financings. Last year, the firm represented Prudential on an agreement with AIG for a combination between Prudential and life insurance firm AIA – a deal which involved the transfer of Indian assets. On the capital markets front, the firm advised Standard Chartered Bank on its issue and listing of Indian depository receipts in 2010. In addition, it acted for Tata Steel on a £3.53 billion (US$5.6 billion) refinancing of the debt put in place to acquire Corus. Slaughter and May also continues to handle the debt work on Tata Steel’s European assets.

Herbert Smith’s India practice group consists of 67 partners. The firm has been particularly busy handling work in Indonesia for its Indian energy clients and is now also focusing on fulfilling Indian client investment in Africa. Last year, Herbert Smith hired Siddhartha Sivaramakrishnan to develop its Indian offering from its offices in Asia as well as to help enhance the firm’s capital markets practice. Last year, Herbert Smith acted for Bharti Airtel on its US$10.7 billion acquisition of the African businesses of Kuwaiti telecoms group Zain. A team led by corporate partner Alan Montgomery is currently representing Essar Oil on its proposed acquisition of Shell UK’s refinery at Stanlow. Corporate partner Gavin Davies and the firm’s India group chair, Chris Parsons, meanwhile, are advising Godrej on its joint ventures in a number of African countries.

White & Case relied on its traditional strengths last year to win a role as international lead counsel to GMR Infrastructure on the sale of its InterGen stake for US$1.23 billion to China Huaneng. In addition, Singapore partners Kate Allchurch and William Kirschner led a White & Case team that advised Deutsche Bank on the financing for Ackruti City slum redevelopments in India.

Foley Hoag has built up a substantial private equity portfolio, acting as US counsel to Bay Capital Partners’ India-focused investment funds and continuing to work with Monsoon Capital, Heritage Capital and the Pragnya Group. Inder Sodhi, the managing director of Heritage Capital in New York, praises the firm’s “sensitivity to cultural and business practices and domain knowledge within the specialized hedge fund vertical”.

King & Spalding represented Mahindra & Mahindra Financial Services in a joint venture with Rabobank; the Avantha Group in its acquisition of Pyramid Healthcare Solutions; and Gray Ghost Ventures in three investments in India-based companies. The firm hopes to attract Indian clients to its new Singapore office focused on commercial arbitration and energy transactions.

Simpson Thacher & Bartlett demonstrated its private equity expertise last year, representing an affiliate of The Blackstone Group in connection with a ₹2.75 billion (US$60 million) investment in Monnet Power Co’s 1,050 megawatt coal-fired power plant in Orissa.

Marking new territory

Regional law firms are unlocking key sources of finance and commodities as India deepens its integration into the global marketplace. In particular, energy and natural resources deals are boosting commodity-led economies such as Canada.

Toronto-based Torys acted as global coordinating counsel for Hindalco Industries in the refinancing of its Novelis subsidiary and acted as Canadian counsel to the Aditya Birla Group in its acquisition of Columbian Chemicals. It also advised ICICI Bank in its lending operations to Indian borrowers making acquisitions in Canada.

Several other Canadian firms have increased their resources teams. One leading firm, Toronto-based McCarthy Tétrault, recruited associate Shubha Krishnan in Vancouver to assist with India deals. Blakes Cassels & Graydon and Stikeman Elliott also have major India practice groups.

In Australia, Blake Dawson advised Mundra Ports (a unit of the Adani Group) on its successful bid for the Abbot Point Coal Terminal in Queensland. “We expect that our Indian cross-border investment practice will continue to grow,” says partner Justin Shmith in Melbourne, which is also home to Corrs Chambers Westgarth, another law firm with significant India interests.

Meanwhile, Africa has also been a draw for the Indian mining and energy industries, but law firms are now seeing broader integration. Lagos-based Jide Ogundimu & Co, for example, advises Connectiva Systems, an Indian revenue management software company, on behalf of its Nigerian operations.

Other Africa-related work is undertaken through intermediary jurisdictions. Singapore’s WongPartnership acted for Olam International in relation to a US$290 million investment by Tata Chemicals to acquire a 25.1% equity stake in Olea Investment Holdings, a Singaporean holding company established by Olam and the government of Gabon to manufacture fertilizer.

Another Singapore firm, Shook Lin & Bok, promoted the head of its India practice group, Sriram Chakravarthi, to full partnership this year. “We have noticed that investment originating from Indian companies in the financial services sector in Singapore has increased,” he says. “Simultaneously, we have seen many funds interested in marketing their offerings in Singapore.”

Regional and local leaders*

*Listed in alphabetical order

Afridi & Angell (UAE)

Blake Cassels & Graydon (Canada)

Blake Dawson (Australia)

CMS Hasche Sigle (Germany)

Colin Ng & Partners (Singapore)

Corrs Chambers Westgarth (Australia)

Edward Nathan Sonnenbergs (South Africa)

Garrigues (Spain)

Gide Loyrette Nouel (France)

Jide Ogundimu & Co (Nigeria)

Mallesons Stephen Jaques (Australia)

McCarthy Tétrault (Canada)

Pekin & Pekin (Turkey)

Rajah & Tann (Singapore)

Shook Lin & Bok (Singapore)

Stikeman Elliott (Canada)

Torys (Canada)

Uría Menéndez (Spain)

Veirano Advogados (Brazil)

WongPartnership (Singapore)

Other Singaporean lawyers have expressed anxieties about Indian tax rules. “The various judgments and rulings on the taxation on sale of non-Indian companies that hold investments in Indian companies have significantly impacted our India-related funds practice,” says Pradeep Kumar Singh, a partner and co-head of the India practice group at Colin Ng & Partners. “We see that some of the major players are holding back on investments on account of the uncertainty in this area.”

Europe remains a key target area for joint ventures, especially in alternative energy. Spanish firms such as Garrigues and Uría Menéndez have witnessed a rise in India energy deals. Paris-based Gide Loyrette Nouel advised the Andhra Pradesh state government on a pilot public-private-partnership project in healthcare services, while CMS Hasche Sigle in Leipzig acted for India’s Ruia Group in acquiring the German rubber specialist Meteor Gummiwerke.

Law firms in emerging markets such as Brazil, Turkey and South Africa are also seeing an upturn on the back of Indian companies.

Boutiques in bloom

India’s complex tax code has sparked a boom in the creation of special purpose vehicles (SPVs), giving offshore law firms in Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands and the Cayman Islands a lucrative pipeline of deals.

Specialist firms*

*Listed in alphabetical order

AG Paphitis & Co (Cyprus)

Conyers Dill & Pearman (Bermuda)

Cramer-Salamian (Switzerland)

Erriah Chambers (Mauritius)

Finnegan Henderson Farabow Garrett & Dunner (USA)

Green and Spiegel (Canada)

Harney Westwood & Riegels (British Virgin Islands)

Inventus Law (USA)

Maples & Calder (Cayman Islands)

Mourant Ozannes (Jersey)

Bermuda-based Conyers Dill & Pearman, for example, advised on the offshore aspects of MakeMyTrip’s IPO, the financing by Vedanta Resources of the Cairn India buyout and the setup by Portland Investment Counsel of a Cayman Islands master-feeder investing through Mauritius into listed securities in India.

In addition, onshore jurisdictions with favourable tax arrangements – such as Cyprus, Ireland, Mauritius and Switzerland – are of increasing interest to Indian clients. Cramer-Salamian, a Geneva-based firm, advises Indian clients on the strategic use of United Arab Emirates (UAE) SPVs. It also advised global beauty company Coty on the structuring, through a UAE-domiciled SPV, of its fragrance production facility in Gujarat.

Technology is a major Indian specialty. Inventus Law, based in the technology hub of Palo Alto, California, advises US companies – especially those in media, medical technology and alternative energy – on structuring and establishing subsidiaries in India. It also guides Indian companies keen to expand into the US. “American companies and investors are becoming increasingly aware that India offers the best growth opportunities for the next 10 years,” says principal Anil Advani.

Intellectual property is gradually being recognized as a vital asset for Indian companies.We’re helping not only US companies but also Indian clients wanting to come to the US,” says Rajeev Gupta, a partner with IP firm Finnegan Henderson Farabow Garrett & Dunner in Washington.

To propel India’s increasingly international workforce, immigration firms such as Green and Spiegel are helping Indians move to North America. “One out of every 10 new immigrants in Canada was born in India,” says managing partner Ravi Jain in Toronto.