India Business Law Journal reveals the top international law firms for India-related matters. Vandana Chatlani reports.

Five years ago, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi first came to power he was described by former CNN New Delhi bureau chief Ravi Agrawal, as a “wildcard”, and an “unknown quantity” to his counterparts in Washington, Beijing and Islamabad. At home in India, Modi promised to drive growth, create jobs, work for the poor, tackle corruption and improve ease of doing business in the country.

As he assumes his second term in office, there are great expectations. Many still buy into what Kapil Komireddi calls “the myth of Modi as a technocratic modernizer – crafted by an ensemble of intellectuals and industrialists”, retaining a belief that he represents stability, prosperity and change.

Two years ago, he was criticized for his demonetization exercise, which ravaged the economy, slackened growth momentum and temporarily dampened major economic activities. Although Modi was supported by many, the population at large was faced with a liquidity crunch, unemployment and a brief halt to major activities, according to the Reserve Bank of India data. Modi’s government has been plagued by recent statistics, which show that the country’s unemployment rate hit a 45-year low of 6.1% for the year 2017-2018. Critics also worry about the erosion of free speech, threats to judicial independence, the persecution of minorities, a rise in sectarian violence, and a thriving culture of nepotism and bribery under the Bharatiya Janata Party government.

Much of the business and corporate law community, however, sees a different picture. The World Bank’s 2018 Doing Business report points to India’s “strong reform agenda to improve the business climate for small and medium enterprises” and the government’s “commitment to broaden the business reforms agenda at the state and now even at the district level”.

According to statistics from Bain & Company, India received a total investment of US$26.3 billion from around 793 deals during 2018 with consumer tech and banking, financial services and investment accounting for the largest sectors for investment by value. Meanwhile, on the private equity front, buyout activity in India reached US$12.6 billion in 2018, the highest level on record, based on figures from Emerging Markets Private Capital Fundraising and Investment.

The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC) led to the successful sale of Bhushan Steel to Tata Steel along with a bankruptcy filing from telecom operator Aircel following a pile-up of US$7 billion in debt. The code boosted India’s flourishing M&A sector, as financial and trade investors from India and abroad scooped up troubled assets. 2018 was also the year that the government won its first bilateral investment treaty arbitration after a London arbitration court dismissed the claim of Louis Dreyfus Armateurs relating to a cargo handling project.

Indian and international law firms can only prosper as the government continues to introduce reforms, attract investments, quash disputes and strengthen trade ties.

Our methodology

Against this complex political and economic backdrop, India Business Law Journal reveals the India-related achievements and activities of law firms across the globe. Our report, now in its 13th year, draws on an analysis of more than 600 law firms, from every continent, that have documented deals and matters with an Indian connection in the past 12 months. Our results are based on rigorous research, vast editorial experience and intensive consultation with corporate counsel and Indian law firms.

As in previous years, we received hundreds of submissions from law firms and scrupulously examined public and other records, along with coverage 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 12 foreign law firms for India-related work. We also list 10 firms that are considered key players for India-related deals, and an additional 22 firms that are classed as significant players.

Each year we pay close attention to regional and specialist firms in key economies such as Australia, Canada, Germany, Japan and Singapore, and emerging regions such as sub-Saharan Africa. We highlight 18 firms in this category that are poised and well-versed to take on India-related assignments.

We further identify 20 “firms to watch” and 18 firms to watch in the regional category. Some of these firms provide a broad spectrum of legal services from multiple jurisdictions and offices. Other firms have made inroads through specialization and have fostered close regional relationships to help India-centric clients with contentious and non-contentious needs. We believe, on the evidence available, that these firms are dedicated to India and motivated to enhance their India-related portfolios.

All the lists are in alphabetical order. Our top 12 table consists of law firms that have dominated the India deal tables, winning the respect and trust of clients on account of their outstanding practices, and the excellence of individual lawyers at the helm of their India desks. These firms continue to secure meaty mandates, enjoying the lion’s share of large, complex, cross-border transactions involving Indian businesses as a result of their enviable track records, practice area specialties, size and geographical reach.

Top 12
  • Allen & Overy
  • Baker McKenzie
  • Clifford Chance
  • Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer
  • Herbert Smith Freehills
  • Jones Day
  • Latham & Watkins
  • Linklaters
  • Norton Rose Fulbright
  • Shearman & Sterling
  • Sidley Austin
  • Squire Patton Boggs

 

Allen & Overy’s well-respected and high-performing India team celebrates another year of landmark deals and disputes. Partners Matthew Gearing QC and Sheila Ahuja have been representing Reliance Industries and BG Exploration and Production India in a London-seated arbitration against the Government of India under the UNCITRAL Rules 1976. The team secured groundbreaking judgments, which limit the scope for interference by Indian courts in international arbitration proceedings. Equally active on the non-contentious side, the firm was counsel to French energy giant Total in its joint venture with the Adani Group, which will create a co-branded retail network of 1,500 service stations and a gas/LNG marketing business across India. Clients also routinely favour the firm for its banking and capital markets prowess, the latter boosted this month by the arrival of Pallavi Gopinath-Aney from Baker McKenzie. The firm recently advised BNP Paribas and Nomura in connection with Advent International’s acquisition financing for a majority stake in Manjushree Technopack; Standard Chartered Bank on the US$1.1 billion “certain funds” term loan financing for Volcan Investments Cyprus, and State Bank of India on its US$1.25 billion dual tranche Regulation S/Rule 144A senior notes issuance.

Marquee clients continue to flock to Baker McKenzie thanks to its strength across practice areas. The firm was the primary counsel to the lead arrangers and more than 20 primary syndicate lenders on a US$3 billion syndicated financing facility to UPL for its purchase of Arysta LifeScience; adviser to Unilever on its €4.6 billion acquisition of the health food drinks portfolio of GSK in India, Bangladesh and 20 other predominantly Asian markets, and Singapore counsel to YES Bank on a US$800 million financing for the first-ever acquisition by various project companies of nine roads from the National Highways Authority of India. Ajay Singh, a legal counsel at Bharti Airtel, says the firm offered “comprehensive guidance” for an international arbitration seated in Singapore. Singh offers high praise for Ashish Chugh, a dispute resolution specialist admitted in Singapore, India, England & Wales and New York, who moved from K&L Gates in March. Chugh “is able to get to the nub of the problem very quickly, offers incisive commercial advice and is completely focused on getting the best result for the client,” says Singh.

law firmsClifford Chance brings deep expertise in the banking sector and strong knowledge in the fields of energy and resources, infrastructure and telecoms. The firm “stands out when compared with competition,” says Gesu Kaushal, an executive director at Kotak Mahindra Bank, who has instructed it on various capital market transactions. “They are clear, decisive and stand their ground on behalf of clients on issues and matters that are critical.” Nidhi Parekh, senior vice president at Citigroup Global Markets Asia says Clifford Chance is “usually more hands-on in transactions compared with other international firms”.

law firmsShe holds capital markets specialist Rahul Guptan in high regard for his holistic analysis and “for escalating issues at the right time”. Standout deals include advising Blackstone and Bengaluru-based developer, Embassy Property Developments, on India’s first-ever real estate investment trust IPO of US$690 million; acting for ICG Strategic Equity and Affirma Capital’s Fund 1 on the acquisition of a private equity portfolio comprising 35 investments across Southeast Asia, India, China, South Korea, the Middle East and Africa; representing an American company on a US$2 billion dispute arising out of its acquisition of telecommunications assets in India, and advising the underwriters on Bajaj Energy’s IPO.

With an impressive track record across practice areas, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer is a magnet for multinational clients such as Aon, BP, Danone, Deutsche Telekom, LafargeHolcim, Novartis, and Swiss Re. Last year, it advised Airtel on a US$1.45 billion investment in its subsidiary, Airtel Africa, by six global investors including Warburg Pincus, Softbank, Temasek and Qatar Investment Authority. This year, it represented Roadis Transportation, the roads and highways arm of the Public Sector Pension Investment Board, on its joint venture with the National Investment and Infrastructure Fund, which will invest up to US$2 billion in road projects in India. It also won roles on DLF’s US$450 million qualified institutional placement and Larsen & Toubro’s US$1.26 billion buyback of shares, and separately handled a string of disputes, investigations, antitrust and intellectual property matters for India-focused clients. Piusha Bose returned to Freshfields at the start of the year after almost a decade of legal practice in India, most recently with Platinum Partners in Mumbai. She is now co-head of the global India group alongside Arun Balasubramanian. Sam Newhouse, Peter Lyons and Lars Meyer are other primary contacts.

Herbert Smith Freehills’ commitment to India is unshakeable. Recent accomplishments include advising JSW Steel on its acquisition of Italy’s Piombino steelworks from Cevital; SingTel in its investment into Bharti Airtel’s restructured African business, and SoftBank on the development of a string of solar projects in India worth around US$20 billion. The firm also took on a number of disputes, defending the Board of Control for Cricket in India in ad-hoc arbitration proceedings brought by the Pakistan Cricket Board for breach of contract relating to a series of home and away tours, and acting for Mylan Laboratories in a dispute with Australian biotechnology company Phosphagenics in respect of the development of an antibiotic drug for commercialization. It hosted “Client Academy”, a full-day programme focused on leadership and international best practices, attended by about 40 general counsel and senior legal advisers from companies such as Tata, Aditya Birla, IndiGo, Unilever, ICICI, Godrej and Netflix, many of which are the firm’s clients. It entered into a formal alliance with Increasing Diversity by Increasing Access, a charity that provides financial and practical support to empower students from underprivileged and marginalized communities in India to attend law school.

Clients offer glowing praise for Jones Day’s India team. “Our experience with Jones Day was fantastic,” says Brijesh Chopra, the managing director of capital markets at OMERS Asia. He commends the firm’s “local market knowledge combined with a high quality, solutions-driven approach”, and its ability to “interpret complex regulations”. The firm was lead counsel on UPL’s US$4.2 billion acquisition of Arysta LifeSciences, which does business in more than 70 countries and has close to 180 subsidiaries. “The due diligence exercise was massive,” says UPL general counsel Rohit Kumar.

“Jones Day has a great ability to mobilize the right resources across jurisdictions in a short span of time. They had a very large team of lawyers working on the deal and did a seamless job in having one face for the client. That was outstanding.” Other standout deals include acting for Surya Prakash Vietnam Energy, a subsidiary of Shapoorji Pallonji Infrastructure Capital, on the development of a 50MW grid connected solar power project in Vietnam’s Ninh Thun province, and Babcock Power on a technology collaboration with Bharat Heavy Electricals for thermal power plants in India.

law firmsLatham & Watkins is a formidable player in the capital markets arena as evidenced by its presence in some of the most complex public and private corporate financings and fundraising exercises. Deutsche Bank Trust Company Americas turned to the firm for advice in connection with Infosys’ US$2 billion share buyback, one of India Business Law Journal’s 2018 Deals of the Year. It also represented the independent directors of Vedanta Resources in connection with the company’s US$1.1 billion delisting from the London Stock Exchange. In addition, it played a key role in IPOs for Embassy Office Parks REIT and HDFC Asset Management Company; advised Motherson Sumi Systems on its acquisition of Reydel Automotive Group, and acted for Jubilant Pharma on a US$200 million bond issue. “Latham is among the best firms globally … its India practise has great depth with attorneys who have worked on India matters for a number of years and are familiar with the relevant issues,” says Prashant Gupta, national practice head for capital markets at Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas & Co. Rajiv Gupta heads the firm’s India practice.

law firmsLinklaters is a fierce competitor on the India stage and widely respected by both peers and clients. Within the first four months of this year it advised on 14 bond issuances with a collective value of more than US$11.8 billion. It played a role on the very first issuance from India in 2019, by Indian Oil, and went on to win mandates for bond transactions by State Bank of India, CNH Industrial Capital (India), NTPC, Canara Bank, Indian Railway Finance Corporation, IndusInd Bank, Toyota Financial Services India and Export-Import Bank of India. Last October, Linklaters scored a coup with the hire of capital markets stalwart Amit Singh, who jumped ship from Allen & Overy. Singh has acted on a variety of high-profile Indian debt capital market transactions along with headline equity capital markets deals and will work to bolster the firm’s India practice steered by Narayan Iyer, while also supporting clients across Southeast Asia.

Norton Rose Fulbright has a staggering headcount of 7,000 spread across 57 offices. A powerhouse on disputes involving Indian parties, the firm has handled a series of LCIA, SIAC, ICC and UNCITRAL arbitrations seated in London, Singapore and Dubai for clients across a spectrum of industries including oil and gas, energy, infrastructure and shipping. It continues to build on its sector knowledge in these areas as well as in financial institutions, mining and commodities, transport, technology and innovation, and life sciences and healthcare. The firm showcased its aviation expertise when it advised IndiGo Airlines on its operating leasing of more than 25 A320 family aircraft and five ATR72-600 aircraft, the novation of a number of additional A320 aircraft operating leases, and the redelivery of a series of A320 aircraft, together involving over 10 of the leading operating lessors in the global aviation industry. In addition, it seized a role as counsel to GuarantCo on a US$40 million dual tranche unsecured wrapped and rated bond issuance by Sindicatum Renewable Energy Company. Sherina Petit, head of the international arbitration practice across Europe, the Middle East and Asia, leads the firm’s India practice.

Shearman & Sterling has an enviable track record advising India-focused clients as a result of its deep industry experience in sectors including energy, healthcare, power, metals and mining, and telecommunications. The India practice, led by Sidharth Bhasin, consists of a network of lawyers in M&A, private equity, capital markets, project finance, arbitration, real estate and fund formation, based in Asia, Europe and North and South America. Aditya Birla Group, Reliance Industries, Tata Group, Sun Pharmaceutical, Essar and Vedanta Resources are among its blue-chip clients. The firm boosted its credentials with a role as counsel to Capital Square Partners on its US$700 million acquisition of a controlling stake in StarTek. It also advised Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec on its acquisition of a 40% interest in CLP India for US$371 million.

Sidley Austin profits handsomely from its solid pipeline of capital market transactions. Muffazal Arsiwalla, a director of investment banking, coverage and advisory at Deutsche Equities India, appreciates the firm’s “high level of active partner involvement”, which he says sets Sidley apart from other international law firms. He also commends its “quick turnaround time” and “high quality of advice”. Manoj Bhargava, who heads the India practice, is “a great partner to work with”, says Arsiwalla. He “understands banks and clients’ requirements, works well within timelines, and offers a practical perspective.” Key achievements include advising JM Financial in a US$1.89 billion regulation S offering of units and issue of debentures of the India Infrastructure Trust; Axis Bank on its US$735 million offer of equity shares, and the underwriters on Chalet Hotels’ US$230 million IPO. Although capital markets deals are Sidley’s bread and butter when it comes to India, it also assists clients on inbound and outbound M&A, financing and project finance transactions, and matters relating to the Food and Drug Administration and Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Ankit Kashyap is another India specialist at the firm.

Squire Patton Boggs keeps its place in the top 12 after another successful year on big-ticket transactions for Indian clients. Sanjeev Aggarwal, chief financial officer at JK Tyre & Industries, who has engaged the firm for equity and debt capital market activities such as IPOs, qualified institutional placements and bond issues, says it is “one of the best law firms for India-related services in these areas” and “very reasonable”. Aggarwal recommends India practice co-head Biswajit Chatterjee, with whom he has worked for over 15 years.

“I find him very thorough in his subject area … he gives the best advice and I always enjoy working with him.” Last year, the firm advised Raksha Energy Holdings on its successful takeover of AIM-listed Guernsey company Mytrah Energy for US$100 million, one of India Business Law Journal’s 2018 Deals of the Year. It also acted for the brokers on Coal India’s US$750 million offer for sale; NIIT Technologies on its acquisition of 100% stake in RuleTek; Venky’s London on share subscriptions in Blackburn Rovers Football Club, and Axis Capital on a US$200 million rights Issue by Max Ventures.

Key Players
  • Ashurst
  • Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton
  • CMS
  • DLA Piper
  • Gibson Dunn & Crutcher
  • Goodwin Procter
  • Reed Smith
  • Simpson Thacher & Bartlett
  • Slaughter and May
  • Stephenson Harwood

 

Ashurst has been a constant presence on high-profile India-related transactions for decades. The firm now maintains an India desk in each of its offices across Europe, the Middle East, Asia and Australia and the coordinated India practice comprises over 60 English, US, Australian and India qualified lawyers. The firm, led by Tom Mercer, advised Volcan Investments on the US$1.1 billion delisting of Vedanta Resources from the London Stock Exchange last year, which was named among India Business Law Journal’s 2018 Deals of the Year. It also won a role advising an unnamed investor, which along with five other private equity firms, invested US$1.2 billion in Airtel Africa. Cab hailing app Ola turned to the firm for advice on its US$300 million buy-in into the electric cars initiative from Hyundai and Kia; Hyundai consulted the firm on its investment in Indian self-drive car rental start-up Revv; Grammer sought the firm’s advice when it set up a new technology centre in India, and Citi hired the firm for a Tata Consultancy Services block trade.

Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton is a formidable force when it comes to India-related transactions. The firm has had an impressive year securing a string of multimillion dollar deals. It acted for Brookfield Asset Management in the purchase of certain hotels and hospitality-related assets of Hotel Leelaventure for around US$590 million; represented a UAE-based sovereign wealth fund and TPG in a US$1.2 billion joint equity investment into UPL; advised Warburg Pincus and other investors on a US$1.25 billion investment in Airtel Africa, and assisted Azure Power on its US$185 million SEC-registered follow-on offering. Jayesh Manek, a director at Manek Investment Management, consulted the firm on litigation in English courts with respect to the sale of shares in an Indian company. “In our opinion, the India-related matters were dealt with very efficiently and seamlessly, and resulted in a positive outcome … including successfully defending an appeal application in the Supreme Court of India,” says Manek. He commends Sunil Gadhia and James Brady for their knowledge and availability. “We have established an excellent working relationship with them. Their advice and guidance have been invaluable.”

CMS’ extensive network across Europe is a huge draw for Indian clients such as Infosys, Essar and Wockhardt seeking to expand and protect their businesses in the region. Recent accomplishments include advising Hindalco Industries’ subsidiary Novelis on the Swiss aspects of its acquisition of Aleris Corporation; representing Cipla on a restructuring and divestment exercise and legal and tax issues across several jurisdictions in Europe, and assisting Dalmia Refractories on its purchase of Germany’s GSB Group. The firm has also helped Infosys on a proposed tax structure relating to its Croatian branch, advised on the English, Hungarian and Slovenian law aspects for the financing of a hydro-power project in Eastern Sikkim, and assisted an Indian telecoms company on its compliance with UK Modern Slavery Act requirements. Vineet Chaudhary, deputy general counsel at Wockhardt India, recommends partner Jonathan Warne, having worked with him on an arbitration under the LCIA rules in London. “He offers good insights, understands the needs of the client, provides in-depth analysis, and follows a holistic approach while providing the opinion.”

DLA Piper has been a hive of activity over the past 12 months advising on India-related disputes, transactions and other matters. Key assignments include advising Infosys on the acquisition of Finland-based Fluido; OYO Hospitality UK on its joint venture with SoftBank; Jindal Steel & Power (Australia) on its US$500 million restructuring; Wipro on the US$405 million sale of its hosted data centre services business to Ensono, and Bajaj Auto on its partnership with Triumph motorcycles. In addition, the firm was busy on the banking front, acting for the joint dealers on a ₹50 billion (US$728 million) euro medium term note programme for Housing and Urban Development Corporation; advising Bank of Baroda on a US$200 million financing for Vedanta Resources, and representing YES Bank on a £49 million financing for Cox & Kings. The DLA team is “probably the best on the street in matters of restructuring,” says Vaibhav Chadha, managing director at Cantor Fitzgerald (Hong Kong) Capital Markets. “Jonathan Leitch is my go-to lawyer for all kinds of work. He is very proactive, very well-networked within the Indian ecosystem and has great ideas.”

law firmsGibson Dunn & Crutcher’s deal list is an indication of its credibility in the Indian market. The firm consistently advises marquee clients and has recently seen an increase in assignments at its London and Hong Kong offices for India-related investigations and compliance work. Debobroto Banerjee, the CEO of EWAC Alloys worked with the firm on a recent M&A deal. “Gibson was very professional, and grasped the matter very quickly … [the team] helped us look at multiple options, and advised us very effectively on the position to take.” Banerjee recommends associate attorney Karthik Thiagarajan for being “on top of his trade. He was always well prepared and articulated his thoughts in a very convincing manner to both us and the lawyers and M&A experts of the target company.” The firm attracted a variety of interesting mandates over the past 12 months including representing the Kraft Heinz Company in the US$625 million sale of Heinz India to Zydus Wellness. It also advised loyal client InterGlobe in the US$230 million sale of its IT and back-office arm, InterGlobe Technologies, to AION Capital Partners, and acted for Celanese on its purchase of Indian engineering thermoplastics compounders, Next Polymers.

Goodwin Procter’s strong performance on India-related private equity matters pushes it up to the Key players’ category this year. A private equity client who has worked with the firm for several years calls it “by far the best international firm when it comes to India transactions. We’ve done a number of different transactions with them, public, private, M&A, debt, restructures, tax issues, equity plans, so we feel very good about their practice.” He recommends partner Yash Rana, international legal consultant Abhishek Krishnan and associate Ananth Lakshman for their client focus. “They’re extremely responsive, incredibly commercial, but still with a keen sense of the issues and rules that are at play in each of our transactions.” The firm acted for DST and Hillhouse Capital which, along with other investors, raised US$1 billion for Indian food delivery company Swiggy. In addition, it represented Xiaomi on its ongoing corporate matters in India; Falcon Edge Capital on its investment in JM Financial Credit Solutions, and Falcon Edge in the purchase of series C preferred shares and common shares of OFB Tech for US$29 million.

I Bobby Majumder joined Reed Smith from Perkins Coie this year and became the firm’s third India practice co-chair along with Gautam Bhattacharyya and Ranajoy Basu. Majumder, who is also co-office managing partner of Reed Smith’s new Dallas office, specializes in corporate and securities transactions primarily in the energy, mining, healthcare and IT industries. The firm also hired partner Sachin Kerur last year from Pinsent Masons, boosting its offerings across the Middle East. Kerur is acting for the developer on Delhi International Airport’s US$2 billion expansion and advising Larsen & Toubro on a number of major construction projects in the Middle East. The firm was the sole foreign legal counsel assisting Palladium Group and UBS Optimus Foundation on the world’s largest healthcare Development Impact Bond aimed at reducing mother and infant deaths in Rajasthan. “The general level of competence of law firms is similar,” says MP Bharucha, a senior partner at Bharucha & Partners. “What counts most is promptitude and partner availability; as also the price point to meet Indian client expectations. Reed Smith scores very high on these.” Bharucha recommends disputes specialist Bhattacharyya for his familiarity with the Indian market. He is “a worthy co-lawyer and a formidable opponent”.

law firmsSimpson Thacher & Bartlett soars into the Key players’ category this year after securing roles on an impressive array of private equity deals with an Indian element. The firm is representing KKR on its US$157 million investment in India Grid Trust. The firm also assisted Blackstone on its acquisition of a majority stake in Indian-listed company, Essel Propack, a global specialty packaging company and the largest global manufacturer of laminated tubes. Blackstone turned to the firm again when it acquired a controlling stake in Aadhar Housing Finance and simultaneously infused ₹8 billion in primary equity capital into Aadhar to fund future growth. Other highlights include assisting KKR on the acquisition by its portfolio company, Radiant Life Care, of a majority stake in Max Healthcare Institute; representing IndoSpace on the formation of a long-term strategic partnership with GLP, a global provider of modern logistics facilities and technology-led solutions, and acting for KKR on its purchase of a 60% stake in Ramky Enviro Engineers for approximately US$530 million. Partner Ian Ho is a key contact.

Slaughter and May has a strong track record as counsel to India-focused companies requiring advice on complex, billion-dollar transactions and disputes. The firm makes up in value what it lacks in deal volume and has taken on mandates for clients across practice areas in M&A and joint ventures, financing, capital markets and dispute resolution. Partners Simon Hall, Nilufer von Bismarck and Jason Webber lead the India group. Last year, GlaxoSmithKline engaged the firm when it divested Horlicks and other consumer healthcare nutrition brands to Unilever and merged GSK Consumer Healthcare with Hindustan Unilever for around £3.1 billion. A recent highlight was advising Vodafone Group in connection with the US$3.2 billion equity capital raising by Vodafone Idea. Vodafone Group’s contribution of ₹110 billion was indirectly funded through a loan secured on the group’s Indian assets. Most recently, the firm was counsel to Reliance Brands on the £67.96 million acquisition of the entire issued share capital of iconic UK toy retailer Hamleys from C Banner International. Tata Steel, Ratnakar Bank, Indiabulls Real Estate, Corus Group and Cairn India are all on the firm’s client roster.

Stephenson Harwood’s showcases its strengths in arbitration, aviation, dispute resolution, finance, M&A and shipping when advising Indian clients such as Piramal Group, Reliance Industries, Vedanta Resources, Binani Group, Axis Bank and ICICI Bank. Kamal Shah spearheads the India group with support from Dubai office managing partner Rovine Chandrasekera, partners Nijoe Joseph, Diwakar Agarwal and George Cyriac, counsel Sunita Singh-Dalal and senior associates Priya Grigoriadis and Vivek Kapoor. Singh-Dalal joined the firm last July from Anjarwalla Collins & Haidermota in Dubai and specializes in market entry, fundraising and partnerships in the healthcare and hospitality sectors in Africa, the Middle East and South West Asia for Indian clients. Recently, the firm advised Cleartrip, a leading online travel company based in India in its acquisition of the Flyin Group, an online travel business in Saudi Arabia and three other jurisdictions for around US$50 million.

It also assisted KIMS Healthcare Group, headquartered in India, on the re-drafting of several internal corporate arrangements across the Middle East, including in the UAE, Oman, Bahrain and Qatar following an investment it received from True North. In addition, the firm assisted KIMS on a separate acquisition of a clinic and pharmacy in Dubai.

Significant players
  • Addleshaw Goddard
  • Bird & Bird
  • Covington & Burling
  • Cravath Swaine & Moore
  • Davis Polk & Wardwell
  • Debevoise & Plimpton
  • Dentons
  • Eversheds Sutherland
  • Hogan Lovells
  • Kelley Drye & Warren
  • King & Spalding
  • Kirkland & Ellis
  • Mayer Brown
  • Milbank
  • Morgan Lewis & Bockius
  • Ropes & Gray
  • Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton
  • Sullivan & Cromwell
  • Taylor Wessing
  • Three Crowns
  • Watson Farley & Williams
  • White & Case

 

Addleshaw Goddard has guided a number of Indian businesses such as Tata Chemicals, JSW Steel, Apollo Tyres and Cipla on matters in the UK, Europe, Asia, the Middle East and beyond. Recently, it was counsel to Future Group on its investment into Koovs, an AIM-listed online fashion retailer; ICICI Bank UK on refinancing the acquisition of a portfolio of properties in Brighton, UK, and Vistara Tata SIA Airlines on novations of aircraft lease agreements. It was also active on the disputes front, representing a Mumbai-based shipping company in Commercial Court and Court of Appeal proceedings challenging the English court’s jurisdiction to grant an ex-parte freezing injunction. Amar Misra, executive director (legal) at RPG Enterprises, appreciates the firm’s global contacts and says it offers “very good advice and expeditious service”. Abhijit Joshi, the managing partner at Veritas Legal calls Addleshaw “one of the best” and endorses the work of partners Mike Duggan and Richard Wise calling them “excellent lawyers”.

law firmsOne of Bird & Bird’s fortes is its healthcare and life sciences expertise. The firm acted for Generic Health and Alembic Pharma as separate claimants for compensation in one of the first Australian Federal Court cases for recovery of compensation (relating to damages awarded to Pfizer). The damages were awarded to Pfizer in respect of injunctions granted to restrain infringement of a patent for the drug Efexor, which was later revoked. It is also representing Cipla in litigation before the French administrative court in several cases in which GlaxoSmithKline is challenging Cipla’s marketing authorizations granted by the French agency for the safety of health products (ANSM) for combination products such as pressurized inhalation devices. Beyond the healthcare space, the firm advised on the disposal of Lebara’s Play business and QuEST Global Services on its acquisition of Mobiliya Technologies. In addition, it acted for longstanding client, Earthport, an Indian bank, in connection with competing offers from Visa International and Mastercard UK to acquire its entire issued share capital. In February, Visa announced an offer of £247 million, which was accepted.

Covington & Burling has advised US, European and Indian clients on a variety of India-related projects, including M&A, project financings, joint ventures, trade and regulatory matters, investigations, and international arbitrations on behalf of and against Indian parties. The firm is a trusted adviser to Indian conglomerate Reliance and recently acted for Reliance Retail on its investment in the series A preferred stock financing of KaiOS Technologies, and represented Reliance Industrial Investments on its investment in the series B preferred stock financing of Netradyne, a developer of artificial intelligence. It also advised Reliance Industries on its US$75 million acquisition of Radisys Corporation, which was Reliance’s first acquisition of a US public company. In addition to dealing with data privacy, IP, employment, benefits and US securities laws, which typically relate to the acquisition of a publicly traded technology company, the transaction also required the firm to obtain approval from the Committee on Foreign Investment in the US. Another client that instructed Covington was Balkrishna Industries, which sought advice on a sponsorship agreement with Ligue de Football Professionnel, the French governing body that runs professional football leagues in France.

Cravath Swaine & Moore, which celebrated its bicentennial this year, has little interest in deal volumes, but seeks to attract the most challenging mandates it can get. With 500 lawyers spread across its offices in New York and London, Cravath is a lean operation, which works regularly on sophisticated deals for both Indian companies global clients seeking guidance on their investments in India. Late last year, the firm was counsel to HDFC Bank on its US$1.82 billion offering of American depositary shares, which were listed on the New York Stock Exchange. Cravath has represented HDFC Bank in a range of financing matters since 2001, when it helped take HDFC public. It later went on to advise IBM in the pending US$1.8 billion sale of select software products including Appscan, BigFix, Commerce, Connections, Notes & Domino, Portal and Unica, to HCL Technologies. In addition, it represented TerraForm Global in its US$400 million 144A/Reg S high-yield senior notes offering. TerraForm Global, a portfolio company of private equity sponsor Brookfield Asset Management, owns and operates a diversified portfolio of solar and wind assets located primarily in China, India, and Brazil.

Davis Polk & Wardwell secured important roles on some of the biggest transactions of the past 12 months. Last year, it assisted Lazard & Co, which was the advisor to Vedanta Resources in connection with its Indian subsidiary, Vedanta’s entry into revenue sharing contracts with the Government of India for the exploration of oil and gas in 41 blocks in sedimentary basins throughout India. This was the first major auction of hydrocarbon blocks to take place in India since 2010. Other achievements include advising the underwriters on an SEC-registered follow-on offering of US$1.8 billion American depository shares by HDFC Bank and acting for the book-running lead managers on an IPO and listing on the Bombay Stock Exchange and National Stock Exchange of India of the equity shares of ICICI Securities valued at approximately US$539 million. This year, a team led by partner William Aaronson, advised FMC Corporation on the spinoff of its 123 million shares of common stock of Livent Corporation as a pro rata stock dividend to FMC’s shareholders. Livent, which produces high quality finished lithium compounds, operates manufacturing sites in the US, England, India, China and Argentina.

The India team at Debevoise & Plimpton is located in its offices in London, Hong Kong and New York. The firm has seen an increase in India-related mandates over the past few years, particularly for private equity funds and deals, M&A transactions, and international dispute resolution. Recent highlights include advising Tata on the negotiation and settlement with American Tower Corporation in relation to existing telecom tower contracts. Tata Teleservices paid American Tower Corporation US$320 million as a one-time cash settlement to prematurely wind up some 30,000-odd tenancies after deciding to sell its mobility business to Bharti Airtel. The firm also won a role on HarbourVest Partners’ US$100 million investment in Janalakshmi Small Finance Bank. In addition, it advised the Poddar family on the sale of their remaining shareholding in Ashirvad Pipes to Belgium-based Aliaxis. Partners Geoffrey Burgess and Peter Goldsmith QC are highly regarded by Indian clients.

Dentons finds a spot in the Significant players category after clinching roles on some of the largest India deals over the past year. A highlight was acting on the US$2.8 billion EMTN programme and masala bond issuance by HDFC. The firm led by Nick Hayday, was sole international counsel to the arrangers HSBC, Nomura and Standard Chartered on the programme re-establishment and counsel to Sun Global Investments in its capacity as the sole lead manager of the masala bond issuance. The firm’s Singapore office, Dentons Rodyk & Davidson, was an adviser on two India Business Law Journal 2018 Deals of the Year. It was counsel to Udaan on a US$225 million series C funding co-led by DST Global and existing investor, Lightspeed Venture Partners. The deal gave Udaan a valuation of US$1 billion and propelled it to unicorn status. In addition, partner Ray Chiang, deputy managing partner Gerald Singham, and senior associate Nicole Teo represented Indian e-commerce platform Flipkart on the sale of a 77% stake to Walmart for approximately US$16 billion.

Eversheds Sutherland’s India practice, driven by partners Parmjit Singh and Ram Sunkara, acts as consuel to companies such as Hilton, G4S and Turkish Airlines on their investments in India. Partner Kingsley Ong, who brings extensive experience of setting up and unwinding structured finance transactions, is currently representing Liberty House on the high-profile acquisition and restructuring of Adhunik and Zion, both Indian entities that are currently subject to Indian National Company Law Tribunal insolvency proceedings. Earlier this year, a team headed by Munich M&A partner Christian Mense, advised Larsen & Toubro Infotech on its purchase of Nielsen+Partner, a Hamburg-based independent IT consulting company which has offices in Germany, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Belgium, Australia, Singapore and Thailand. The firm continues to represent the Government of India in the Enrica Lexie arbitration between Italy and India concerning the death of two Indian fishermen by weapons fired from an Italian tanker. Oral hearings in the case will take place at the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague in July. Tax specialist Kunal Nathwani recently joined the firm and is currently a candidate for an MSc in taxation at Oxford University.

Hogan Lovells clocked up a number of interesting deals this year as a result of its strong banking and finance capabilities. The firm was counsel to PayPal in a US$125 million investment in Pine Labs, India’s largest retail payment platform, alongside Temasek, the Singapore government’s sovereign wealth fund. It also advised a syndicate of lenders in relation to continuing breaches under a US$470 million facility agreement granted to a Singapore subsidiary of the GMR group; advised SSG Capital Management in relation to its follow-on investment in Promethean Holdings, and acted for a British multinational bank and an Asia-focused distressed debt fund on enforcement steps and strategic options in relation to a US$400 million facility agreement for an Indian port and terminal company. In addition, the firm is representing an international bank in the recovery of loans made to a Dutch incorporated entity in the Ballarpur Industries Group, as well as on restructuring and enforcement options at the Indian parent level.

Kelley Drye & Warren routinely takes on assignments from prominent Indian clients and in recent years has provided legal guidance to companies such as Tata Advanced Systems, Ranbaxy, Wockhardt, and Dr Reddy’s Laboratories. Presently, the firm is assisting a multinational construction and consulting company on several ongoing projects including preparation and negotiation of commercial contracts relating to multiple infrastructure projects throughout India. Indian jewellery retailer Renaissance Jewellery became a new client this year. “They are thorough professionals, very competent and most reliable,” says GM Walavalkar, vice president of legal and company secretary at Renaissance Global. Walavalkar has consulted the firm for the negotiation and structuring of M&A, joint ventures, corporate restructuring, banking, as well as direct and indirect taxation. “I would recommend Talat Ansari since he is one of the most senior partners with a wide experience and exposure to both Indian and US laws.” Before becoming a US lawyer, Ansari practised law for more than a decade in India, working on corporate and commercial transactions, infrastructure projects and dispute resolution, including at the Supreme Court of India. Partner Deepak Nambiar is also an India specialist.

law firmsKing & Spalding celebrates a busy and fulfilling 12 months on India deals and multimillion-dollar arbitration proceedings. A team led by partner Rahul Patel recently advised UPS as it completed the buyout of its joint venture in India, UPS Jetair Express, from its joint venture partner, Jetair. Partner Richard Nelson took the reins when the firm acted for the subsidiary of an Indian conglomerate in relation to its establishment of LNG regasification terminals in India, the most advanced project being a floating LNG terminal on the west coast of India at Jaigarh Port. This will be India’s first privately-owned and developed LNG regasification terminal project. The firm also advised Dalma Capital Management (regulated by the Dubai Financial Services Authority) on a proposed US$250 million Indian real estate fund targeting investment through structured equity deals in projects that are under construction. In January, the firm hired renowned Asia-Pacific banking and finance lawyer Andrew Brereton from Clifford Chance.

Kirkland & Ellis is a firm favourite for private equity funds, which often enlist its legal services when investing in India and beyond. The firm advised Bain Capital on its ₹68 billion investment in Axis Bank, which raised a total of ₹116 billion through equity and equity-linked capital from a set of marquee investors. The deal, featured in India Business Law Journal’s 2018 Deals of the Year, was one of the largest private equity investments in India’s banking sector and the first instance of issuance of warrants by a private sector bank. The Blackstone Group enlisted Kirkland’s expertise when it acquired a 50% stake in Indiabulls Real Estate’s subsidiaries – Indiabulls Properties and Indiabulls Real Estate Company for US$731 million. The subsidiaries own the company’s marquee office buildings Indiabulls Finance Centre and the One Indiabulls Centre in Mumbai. The transaction structure involved 13 entities and was one of the biggest in India’s real estate sector in 2018. Other highlights were advising Apax Funds on its US$200 million investment in Fractal Analytics, and acting for Alight Solutions on a 10-year IT outsourcing contract to Wipro valued at US$1.6 billion.

Partners David Carpenter and Paul de Bernier lead the India practice at Mayer Brown. The firm strengthened its India offerings with the addition of partners Kayal Sachi and Ian Roebuck who joined last January from Allen & Overy. The duo have a wealth of experience advising on Indian related financings, including corporate lending transactions, financings for corporate and private equity acquisitions into India and financings for Indian outbound M&A transactions. The firm’s deal list indicates its wide spectrum of expertise on both contentious and non-contentious matters. It advised a South Korean tech company on its dispute in connection with the construction of a multibillion dollar petrochemical facility in India and disputes over tax liability. It also represented a Canadian global solar power generating company, its subsidiaries and affiliates, in a series of five arbitrations in India against one of the world’s top contractors for solar power projects. On the transactional side, the firm was counsel to Mahindra & Mahindra on its investment in Zoomcar; Shriram Properties in relation to its proposed IPO, and Reliance in connection with the IPO by Codemasters.

Milbank has assisted Indian and international companies investing or doing business in India for two decades. Its illustrious client list includes Reliance Industries, ICICI Bank, Lhoist India, Tata Steel, HDFC Bank, JSW Steel, Bharti Airtel and Sahara Group. A recent accomplishment was advising La Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ) on a US$500 investment in Kerala Infrastructure Investment Fund Board’s masala note issuance in the US; CDPQ’s first Indian investment. Other key deals include advising the lead arrangers and facility agent, Korea Trade Insurance Corporation and the participating commercial banks on a multibillion dollar telecom project run by Reliance Jio Infocomm to expand India’s wireless network. It was also counsel to HSBC Bank, SACE and the commercial banks in relation to the proposed US$500 million facilities for Reliance Industries for its expansion of Jamnagar Refinery in India. Naomi Ishikawa, James Grandolfo and John Dewar are primary contacts for India.

Morgan Lewis & Bockius bolstered its India capabilities with the hire of Karun Cariappa who joins the Singapore office from Simmons & Simmons. Cariappa advises on securities offerings across Asia with a particular focus on India and is co-head of the firm’s India initiative with corporate and business transaction partner, Rahul Kapoor. The firm represented FluidEdge Consulting, a healthcare management consulting company, in a majority investment by CitiusTech, an Indian company which focuses on multiple areas of digital technology such as business intelligence, mobility and internet of things, big data, cloud computing, predictive analytics, and data science. Aurobindo Pharma USA, a marketer and manufacturer of generic pharmaceuticals and active pharmaceutical ingredients, instructed the firm for advice on its acquisition of select assets from Sandoz USA, comprising a portfolio of oral solid products, dermatology businesses and commercial and manufacturing infrastructure in the US. The firm also represented Glade Brook Capital Partners in a US$50 million Series I preferred share investment in Zomato Media – an India-based online platform for restaurant discovery and reviews. The investment by Glade Brook was a follow-on to a US$270 million investment by Alibaba Group.

Ropes & Gray brings a unique contribution to India’s healthcare field. The firm has worked for the last five years with a coalition of industry and academic groups, including the Indian Society for Clinical Research and Organisation of Pharmaceutical Producers of India to achieve revisions to clinical trials regulations in India. The revisions include the appointment of expert committees to adjudicate the source of participant injuries in clinical trials, to determine whether each reported injury is causally related to a trial, as a predicate for compensation to injured participants. The firm is also highly active on assignments relating to disputes and compliance, internal investigations and anti-corruption laws. It has provided anti-corruption and compliance training for global private equity firms and their India-based portfolio companies in the real estate, construction and technology sectors, including in New Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad, and Bengaluru. The firm is currently representing an ad hoc group of bondholders on the defaulted parent-guaranteed senior notes issued by subsidiaries of Rolta India. Key members of the India team are Ruchit Patel and Sonal Patel (London), Andrew Dale and Geoffrey Atkins (Hong Kong), and Mark Barnes (Boston).

Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton is “extremely effective” and “understands Indian businesses and the culture that we operate in”, says Navroze Palekar, general manager of legal and WNS Global Services. Palekar has consulted the firm for matters relating to the Office of Foreign Assets Control, export control regulations and arbitration. “Sheppard Mullin helped craft a strategy to manage transactions that are affected by such export control regulations,” he says “[They have] also been highly effective to stave off frivolous arbitration claims.” Last year the firm assisted ExlService Holdings on its agreement to acquire SCIOInspire Holdings for US$240 million. It was recently retained by eClerx, an Indian IT consulting and outsourcing multinational company based in Mumbai and Pune, on issues related to US employment law compliance and US-based employee handbook. It was US securities counsel to Majeso in connection with its acquisition of Exaxe in Ireland. Tata Consultancy Services and Tech Mahindra are also regular clients. Robert Friedman and James Hays lead the India practice.

law firmsSullivan & Cromwell has 875 lawyers spread across a network of 13 offices around Asia, Australia, Europe and the US. Since the early 1990s, it has advised on a number of transactions involving Indian entities, including Essar Steel, Apollo Tyres, DS Construction, Tata Motors, State Bank of India and Tata Power. Its experience in India includes M&A, capital markets, projects and other strategic transactions across industries, including steel, infrastructure, power, telecommunications and construction. Over the past 12 months, the firm took on roles in three multibillion dollar deals involving Indian clients. First, it acted as tax adviser to France’s Teleperformance (France) in connection with its US$1 billion acquisition of Intelenet India from private equity firm Blackstone. Then it went on to claim a role as counsel to UBS Securities, the financial adviser to Platform Specialty Products in the US$4.2 billion sale of its agricultural solutions business consisting of Arysta LifeScience and its subsidiaries to UPL. Not long after, it was engaged by Japan’s Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal on its joint venture formation agreement with ArcelorMittal in relation to their pending US$6.8 billion acquisition of Essar Steel India.

Taylor Wessing has ambitiously built up its India practice through practice area excellence in technology, communications and brands; life sciences and healthcare, and financial services. A partner at Trilegal says the firm is “significantly more cost-effective than the Magic Circle, but they deliver quality work”. The firm is currently advising Ola on its UK launch in numerous cities, a matter involving extensive regulatory advice on licences, employment law, data protection, direct marketing, operational queries and local council regulations. In addition, it is acting for Cipla on contentious and non-contentious commercial matters throughout Europe, and advising international food delivery platform Just Eat, on its arrangements with India-based Arvato. Rajiv Luthra, founder and managing partner of L&L Partners admires the firm’s “level of professionalism, high-grade performance, excellent advisory services, dexterity, attention to detail, ability to devise sustainable solutions that endure, transparency in operations and most importantly their inclusive and friendly approach”. Indian lawyers offer generous praise for India practice head and arbitration expert Laurence Lieberman. He has been described as “very dynamic” while Luthra says “his understanding of the Indian market and its nuances is par excellence”.

law firmsThree Crowns was founded in 2014 by six international arbitration specialists from Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Covington & Burling, Shearman & Sterling and Jones Day. The firm is representing investors in an ongoing UNCITRAL arbitration against India under the Russia-India and Cyprus–India bilateral investment treaties based on disputes pertaining to investments in the telecommunications sector, with claims exceeding US$300 million. It is also advising a US company in an LCIA arbitration with its Indian joint venture partner in relation to two ventures in India. In addition, partner Jan Paulsson, recently served as a member of the disputes panel of the International Cricket Council adjudicating a dispute between the Board of Control for Cricket in India and the Pakistan Cricket Board. “The services, both the quality of work and the responsiveness, is superior and among the best I have used,” says Phil Paccione, general counsel and executive vice president of business affairs at Skechers. “We consider Three Crowns to be well-equipped to handle complex and high-value, India-related disputes,” says Andrey Poluektov of Tenoch Holdings. “The team includes some of the world’s leading arbitration specialists and Indian qualified lawyers who understand the country and its legal system well.”

Law firmsWatson Farley & Williams has worked steadily to become a trusted adviser on aviation and energy deals as well as employment matters involving Indian parties. Its presence in Dubai is particularly attractive for Indian companies keen to tap markets in the UAE. Recent achievements include acting as UAE and English counsel on the sale by Interglobe Enterprises of its travel IT and BPO business – Interglobe Technologies – to AION Capital; advising a solar energy solutions provider on the applicability of the GDPR to their business operations in Europe; representing a Dubai-based investment vehicle owned by an Indian high net worth individual in connection with a US$10 million financing facility to a South African stated-owned public utility, and assisting a private equity-backed Indian lifestyle and fitness startup on establishing its operations in the UAE. Indigo Airlines is also a regular client. Senior associate Dhruv Paul frequently handles corporate and aviation deals across the MENA region and India.

Clients are drawn to White & Case on account of its rich experience and long history of involvement on India matters. The firm has been busy on contentious assignments, helping clients navigate their way through complex disputes across industries predominantly through the arbitration route. Partner Dipen Sabharwal, who specializes in international arbitration, commercial litigation, construction and oil and gas, is extremely active on India-related mandates. His recent experience includes representing a global real estate investor in three LCIA arbitrations against an Indian real estate developer in a dispute concerning a real estate project in Mumbai; advising Brazilian contractors and the project developer in multiple LCIA and ICC arbitrations against insurers in a dispute concerning one of the world’s largest hydroelectric power projects; assisting a Russian investor against the Government of India on investment treaty claims arising from the cancellation of telecom licences, and representing a Scandinavian acquirer against an Indian seller in a dispute connected to the purchase of an Indian technology company. The firm’s core India team is spread across London, New York and Singapore and also handles M&A, private equity, capital markets, project development and financing deals.

Regional & specialist firms (worldwide)
  • Allen & Gledhill (Singapore)
  • Anderson Mori & Tomotsune (Japan)
  • Appleby (Mauritius)
  • Bowmans (Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, South Africa)
  • Clyde & Co Clasis (Singapore)
  • Collyer Law (Singapore)
  • Corrs Chambers Westgarth (Australia)
  • Drew & Napier (Singapore)
  • Duane Morris & Selvam (Singapore)
  • Gianni Origoni Grippo Cappelli & Partners (Italy)
  • Hengeler Mueller (Germany)
  • Heuking Kühn Lüer Wojtek (Germany)
  • Inventus Law (US)
  • Mori Hamada & Matsumoto (Japan)
  • Nagashima Ohno & Tsunematsu (Japan)
  • Rajah & Tann (Singapore)
  • Shook Lin & Bok (Singapore)
  • TLT (UK)

 

Singapore firm Allen & Gledhill guides Indian clients on their investments and disputes across East Asia. Last year, the firm advised Ascendas India Logistics Holdings on the ₹20 billion joint investment by Ascendas-Singbridge Group and Temasek Holdings in Ascendas India Logistics. It also successfully acted for India-listed Kiri Industries in a minority oppression case before the Singapore Court of Appeal. The court ruled that there was oppressive conduct by Senda, a majority shareholder in Dystar Global Holdings, against Kiri, which also has an investment in Dystar. This year, the firm advised Allianz Real Estate on a €200 million joint venture with ESR, an Asia-Pacific logistics real estate fund, to establish an investment programme targeting India’s logistics market. The firm recently promoted India-qualified Vivekananda Neelakantan to the partnership. Neelakantan, who has practised with an Indian law firm and a Supreme Court of India senior counsel, specializes in international arbitration and cross-border dispute resolution with a focus on India.

Anderson Mori & Tomotsune is a popular contender for dealmaking within the Japan-India corridor and frequently seconds its lawyers to firms in India. Isao Kojima, a senior legal manager at Fuji Electric, has consulted the firm for advice on due diligence and contract drafting in relation to M&A projects in India, and labour law issues connected to Fuji Electric’s Indian subsidiary. Kojima places his trust in partner Ryo Kotoura. “Since he has an experience of staying in India for some years, he is conversant with legal issues that many Japanese clients face,” says Kojima. “He always provides us with practical solutions in collaboration with appropriate Indian law firms.” The firm was counsel to Dai-ichi Life Insurance Company on its investment in Union Asset Management Company through compulsorily convertible preference shares. Mitsubishi Chemical Holdings also instructed the firm when it acquired a stake in the PVC Compound Business of Welset Plast Extrusions. Ryo Okochi is also highly active on the India front.

Offshore law firm Appleby has acted for the full spectrum of Indian clients, ranging from large financial institutions to high net worth individuals and startup technology businesses. The firm enjoyed an eventful 12 months after closing a series of bond issues through its Mauritius branch led by partner Malcolm Moller. Significant highlights include advising Neerg Energy on the US$475 million issue of high-yield 6% senior secured bonds due in 2022 and its subsequent investment in masala bonds issued by subsidiaries of ReNew Power Ventures of the same value. It also assisted UPL Corporation on the US$500 million issue of its 3.25% senior notes due in 2021 and the listing of the notes on the Singapore Exchange Securities Trading Limited, and advised Azure Power Global on its further public offering on the New York Stock Exchange. In addition, it was counsel to Azure Power Energy on the Mauritian law aspects of its US$500 million issue of 5.50% senior notes to be listed on the Singapore Exchange Securities Trading Limited. The notes, due in 2022, qualify as green bonds and were certified by the Climate Bonds Initiative.

Bowmans is a popular choice for Indian companies ambitious to enlarge their footprint across Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and South Africa. Earlier this year, the firm was selected to advise Platform Specialty Products and its agrochemicals subsidiary Arysta LifeScience in relation to merger filings in the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa, the Central African Economic and Monetary Community, South Africa, Tanzania and Kenya in connection with the proposed sale of Arysta to UPL. The firm also advised Glenmark Pharmaceuticals on its market entry into Kenya including the regulatory aspects of setting up in the country, the pharmaceutical products regulatory regime, promotion and marketing of pharmaceutical products, tax and related corporate services. Other assignments include advising East African online classifieds business OLX in relation to copyright and trademark infringement both in Kenya and in India; representing Cipla in ongoing searches and filing of multiple trademark applications in Kenya and in the registration of approximately 50 of its trademarks in Algeria, and Hansa Engineering on the sale of land in Uganda to an Indian company.

Clyde & Co Clasis is a joint law venture between Clyde & Co and Singapore law firm Clasis. International arbitration specialists Prakash Pillai and Sapna Jhangiani are well-respected and sought after for their experience in handling multimillion dollar disputes with an Indian element. Anand Desai, the managing partner at DSK Legal says the firm is “very proactive” and “excellent at conducting arbitrations”. Pillai, says Desai, “is among the leading practitioners I have worked with in the international arbitration space”. Pallavi Shroff, the managing partner at Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas & Co echoes this view, saying Pillai “would do well in any kind of commercial dispute”. The firm has handled a spate of cases at the Singapore International Arbitration Centre, most recently winning a matter which ran for almost two years and arose out of disputes relating to a failed agreement for the sale of shares in Malaysia’s first and only integrated pulp and paper manufacturer for around US$340 million. The Indian company obtained an award of US$50 million plus costs and interest. Clyde & Co also has a formal association with CSL Chambers in New Delhi.

Singapore boutique firm Collyer Law continues to bolster its credentials with a spate of small and mid-sized deals involving Indian clients. It advised a Singapore-based, Indian-founded robo-advisory platform and Asia’s first digital wealth management solutions provider on a SG$16.5 million series A fundraising from an international asset management company and other institutional and high net worth investors. It was also engaged by a Canadian-based global clean energy independent power producer as Singapore counsel in relation to creating a security over an extended facility to an India-based company, which operates distributed rooftop solar power projects; an entrepreneur in the agricultural commodities industry on a joint venture transaction with a European branded snack manufacturer, and an Indian diamond manufacturer in a commercial litigation matter with an American trading business for recovery of dues. The firm recently enhanced its India desk with two new senior associate recruits; Aritra Roy, who joins from Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas & Co and will focus on M&A, private equity and joint ventures, and Khyati Raniwala who was previously with SIAC and joins in the litigation and arbitration team. Azmul Haque heads the India team.

Corrs Chambers Westgarth has developed relationships with various Australian federal and state government offices in India and undertakes regular joint seminars in India with Austrade and the Australian High Commission. The firm’s specialties are technology, media and telecommunications; infrastructure; energy and resources, and education. The India business group is co-chaired by Bruce Adkins and Arvind Dixit. Corrs is advising Environmental Clean Technologies, a public company listed on the Australian stock exchange in relation to the development of its Coldry and Matmor technologies with India’s national lignite authority, Neyveli Lignite Corporation and India’s largest iron ore miner, National Mineral Development Corporation.

Drew & Napier advises Indian and South Asian clients on corporate mandates, dispute resolution and intellectual property matters. The firm recently played a role in Sindicatum Renewable Energy’s triple-tranche green bond offering, one of India Business Law Journal 2018 Deals of the Year. Sindicatum became the first Singaporean company to issue a green bond in Indian rupees. Another key accomplishment was acting as Singapore law adviser to SoftBank Vision Fund in connection with the US$4 billion disposal of its interests in Flipkart to Walmart. Under the leadership of Mahesh Rai, the director of dispute resolution, the firm was selected by numerous parties such as private equity funds; power, energy and infrastructure companies; clients in the textile industry, and banks for assistance in litigation and international arbitration involving Indian entities. Other key lawyers involved in India work are Jimmy Yim, Cavinder Bull, Sushil Nair, Randolph Khoo, Gary Low, Blossom Hing, Ong Ken Loon, Steven Lo, Jon Nair, Ron Cheng, Renu Menon, Gerui Lim, Mohan Gopalan and Vikram Rajaram.

Duane Morris & Selvam’s tremendous reputation on capital markets transactions means it competes and often outdoes several top tier law firms on these deals. “The capital markets team at DMS provides a value-for-money proposition while maintaining partner-level attention,” says Manan Lahoty, a partner at L&L Partners. Lahoty recommends Jamie Benson “for personal involvement on all his deals”. Key clients include Edelweiss Financial Services, JM Financial, ICICI Securities, IIFL Holdings, SBI Capital Markets, Axis Capital, The President of India, Nomura Capital (India) and Bajaj Finance. Benson, who co-chairs the India practice, was at the helm of Indian IPOs by companies such as Affle Holdings, Prince Pipes and Fittings, Seven Islands Shipping, Anmol Industries, Vectus Industries, Flair Writing Industries, and Stove Kraft. The firm also worked on several qualified institutional placements. Outside this space, the firm has broadened its offerings with capabilities in corporate work and dispute resolution. Special counsel Priyank Srivastava has acted for various Indian clients on corporate and finance matters within the oil and gas and financial services sectors, while other members of the India practice have advised on arbitration matters and Singapore litigation matters.

law firms

Gianni Origoni Grippo Cappelli & Partners actively promotes business relationships between Italy and India, working to deepen its ties with Indian companies and their local legal advisers. Partner Rosario Zaccà is the president of the Indian Business Forum of Italy and a board member of the Indo Italian Chamber of Commerce. The firm often assists Indian clients undertaking acquisitions in the Italian market across sectors such as technology, automotive, energy and infrastructure. It recently represented Cevital Group in the sale of Italy’s second largest steel producer, Aferpi, to Indian steelmaker JSW Steel. Bharat Petroleum then instructed it for advice on a dispute with Alitalia relating to the successful recovery of a sum exceeding US$20 million. In addition, the firm offered guidance to Isagro on corporate and labour matters regarding Isagro Asia – its Indian subsidiary. Isagro operates manufacturing facilities across five sites – four in Italy and one in India – and distributes directly in India.

Daniela Favoccia, Rainer Krause and Carsten van de Sande spearhead the India initiative at Hengeler Mueller. The firm focuses on inbound and outbound investment between German and Indian parties, particularly in the areas of corporate M&A, labour and employment law, dispute resolution and arbitration, intellectual property and regulatory matters. Berlin partner Amit Datta recently joined the India team. Datta advises clients in the communication, technology and media sector on all aspects of intellectual property and IT law. The firm was recently counsel to GfK on the sale of four global divisions including its India business, and acted for an Indian equipment manufacturer on the review and renegotiation of a licence agreement with a German customer. It was also an adviser to Tata Industries on the sale of its German subsidiaries to MPS, and played a role in the joint venture between a German and Indian paper manufacturer.

With 400 lawyers, tax advisers and notaries Heuking Kühn Lüer Wojtek provides a full-service offering to corporates navigating their way through the Indo-German commercial corridor. The firm has supported clients across industries from steel, automotive and IT, to health, agriculture and fashion, and assisted German clients on their market launches in India through establishing subsidiaries or entering into strategic partnerships and investments. Messe Munich, CEAT, Echosens Group, Compo Expert, Martade Holding und Management, Neumayer Tekfor, Equity Consulting, Tech Mahindra, German Exposition Corporation International, Rotex Group and Esprit are among the firm’s former and current clients. Key assignments over the past 12 months were: advising Munich-based B2X Care Solutions, an after-sales service provider for smartphones and consumer electronics, on corporate and insolvency matters with regards to its Indian subsidiary; counselling Paris-based Echosens Group, an international manufacturer of high-technology medical devices on patent investigations and litigation regarding the activities of Hisky Medical Technologies and its local agent in India, and guiding Compo Expert, a German producer of fertilizers and biostimulants on compliance and restructuring matters relating to its Indian subsidiary.

Inventus Law represents high growth startup companies, founders, angel investors, incubators, accelerators, and venture capital and private equity investors around the world. The firm has offices in Palo Alto, Dallas and Bengaluru with a specialized team of lawyers well-versed in intellectual property, technology, corporate matters and the startup ecosystem. Founder and managing partner Anil Advani is a startup lawyer, angel investor, and mentor to early-stage startup founders in Silicon Valley and beyond. He is licensed to practice in California, New York and India. The firm’s recent activities include advising Mara Labs, which operates logistics management startup Locus, on the latter’s US$22 million series B round of funding led by Falcon Edge Capital and Tiger Global Management, and representing social commerce platform Meesho on a US$11.5 million series B round of funding and subsequently a US$50 million series C fundraising from Shunwei Capital, DST Partners, RPS Ventures, Sequoia India, SAIF Partners, Venture Highway and Y Combinator. Other experts are Rajvinder Kaur, who heads the India practice, and Ashitha Bhagwan.

Mori Hamada & Matsumoto’s deep understanding of India-related legal and business practices including from a compliance perspective is a rare and much-appreciated value addition from the client’s viewpoint,” says Charandeep Kaur, a partner at Trilegal. Mori Hamada has collaborated with Trilegal on numerous transactions and disputes, most recently on Shinryo’s acquisition of the entire share capital of Suvidha Engineers, a heating, ventilation and air-conditioning system services company in India. “[The firm] has a strong and focused India practice and we have had a really positive and enriching experience working with them and their clients,” says Kaur. Over the past year, Mori Hamada was counsel to Kubota on its majority investment in a joint venture with Indian tractor manufacturer, Escorts; the Indian subsidiary of Japanese company Toray Industries on its acquisition of land to set up a manufacturing facility in the Indian integrated township Sri City, and Furukawa Electric Group on increasing its shareholding in Minda Furukawa Electric from 49% to 75%. Partners Chisako Takaya, Hideaki Umetsu and Yohei Koyama are India experts.

law firmsLike many of its fellow Japanese firms, Nagashima Ohno & Tsunematsu has enhanced its knowledge on Indian laws and regulations through the secondments of Japanese bengoshi lawyers to Indian law firms. The firm’s India-focused team is staffed by lawyers based in Tokyo and Singapore including Rashmi Grover, an Indian and English qualified foreign lawyer who specializes in M&A, private equity and general corporate work. “Nagashima Ohno & Tsunematsu is one of the most trusted Japanese law firms for its long-standing Japanese clients doing business in India,” says Rudra Pandey, a partner at Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas & Co. Minoru Ota, partner and head of the India desk, and Tadashi Yamamoto, “are very capable lawyers”, says Pandey, commending them for their “good understanding of Indian laws”. Highlights of the past 12 months include advising Suzuki Motor on its joint venture with Toshiba and Denso for the setup of a lithium-ion battery plant in Gujarat, and assisting Suzuki Motor on its alliance with another leading automobile manufacturer in India.

Rajah & Tann’s India team provides capabilities in arbitration, corporate work, shipping and construction and comprises lawyers who are involved in key matters in India, some of whom are qualified to practice there. Prominent assignments handled by the firm include advising Swiber and Swiber Offshore Construction (SOC) on several arbitration and litigation matters arising in various jurisdictions such as Brunei, Malaysia, Indonesia, India and Singapore; SOC and a Swiber consortium in respect of several legal claims involving EPIC [engineering, procurement, installation and construction], and transportation and installation projects in India, and RHT Health Trust Manager on the proposed S$957 million disposal of the entire asset portfolio of RHT Health Trust to Fortis Healthcare International. The deal sees RHT disposing of its Indian subsidiaries, its 49% stake in Fortis Hospital and its interests in 12 clinical establishments, four greenfield clinical establishments and two operating hospitals in India. The firm is also advising on a number of confidential multimillion-dollar disputes involving Indian entities. Francis Xavier, Abdul Jabbar, Chandra Mohan, Jainil Bhandari, Vikram Nair, Karam Advani, Rohan Singh and Archit Dhir are key members of the India desk.

Shook Lin & Bok is a frontrunner for contentious and non-contentious matters involving Singaporean and Indian entities. On the corporate and banking front, the firm acted for SoftBank Vision Fund in the US$800 million funding round led by Softbank Vision Fund, Lightspeed Venture Partners, Sequoia Capital and Greenoaks Capital on its investment in an Indian hotel chain. It also acted for a leading private sector bank in India in respect of a `550 million term loan facility granted to the wind energy special purpose vehicle of an India-based renewable energy player. On the disputes side, the firm secured a US$40 million award for an Indian cooperative in an arbitration involving a claim against a US-listed company and one of its major shareholders, both domiciled in Australia. The dispute related to a joint venture between the parties and contracts for the long-term supply of a raw material required by the Indian cooperative. In addition, it secured an award for around US$77 million in damages when acting for the claimant in an international arbitration involving an Indian mining company for breach of two contracts of affreightment. Aditi Mathur, Probin Dass and Sarjit Singh Gill are India specialists.

TLT’s robust banking practice and deep relationships with Indian banks has earned it the loyalty of many clients. The firm has proved its clout on contentious matters, pursuing a recovery action against a Botswanan borrower and Indian corporate guarantor under a loan facility in respect of a diamond processing plant, and pursuing a recovery of US$27 million relating to separate facilities provided by Bank of India to two Panamanian registered borrowers that were used to assist with the purchase of two ships. It recently represented IDBI Bank in relation to proceedings against Axcel Sunshine for its default under a loan agreement. Proceedings were also commenced against Siva Industries and Holdings in respect of a letter of comfort provided in support of the loan. TLT successfully obtained judgment against Axcel for US$87 million and is now advising on the enforcement of the judgment in multiple jurisdictions. The firm is keen to share its clean energy expertise in the Indian market. It is also exploring a “best friends” relationship with one or two Indian law firms to capitalize on referral opportunities into and out of India. Peter Carney, Paul Gair and Nick Curling are key contacts.

Firms to watch
  • Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld
  • Al-Tamimi & Co
  • BakerHostetler
  • Dechert
  • Dorsey & Whitney
  • DWF
  • Foley Hoag
  • Frost Brown Todd
  • Gowling WLG
  • Greenberg Traurig
  • Holman Fenwick Willan
  • K&L Gates
  • Kegler Brown Hill & Ritter
  • Kobre & Kim
  • Morrison & Foerster
  • Orrick
  • Osborne Clarke
  • Penningtons Manches
  • Simmons & Simmons
  • Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom

 

Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld has over 900 lawyers spread across its offices in the US, Europe, Asia and the Middle East. This year, a team led by partner John Holton with support from counsel Claire Conway, advised Indian private equity firm Lighthouse on the closing of its Lighthouse India Fund III with a value of US$230 million. The firm assisted on fund structuring and documentation and on investor negotiations.

Under the leadership of Tayan Patel, BakerHostetler has advised several Indian clients on effective ways to protect their IP and technology in the US. “His approach is to fully understand the business objectives of his clients to ensure legal services are aligned with their long-term strategies,” says Vivek Dahiya, the proprietor of Boudhik IP. The firm is currently assisting with ongoing strategic prosecution and maintenance of a large government IP portfolio, and locating potential targets to license or sell existing IP rights in the communication sector. Pankaj Soni, a partner at Remfry & Sagar, says, “BakerHostetler is a firm that is committed to providing legal services of the highest standard. Tayan has a technical background, has served as an examiner at the USPTO [United States Patents and Trademarks Office] … Our association has been mutually beneficial and we have only the highest regard for his legal acumen and strategic thinking capabilities.”

law firmsDechert’s practice groups are not organized or conducted geographically, but instead focus on business sectors or high regulatory demands. As a result, teams that work on India-related matters are routinely staffed in multiple countries located in Europe, North America, the Middle East and Asia. Dechert’s key areas of practice are M&A and other corporate matters, fund formation within the private equity sector, and government and internal investigations. Over the past year, the firm has seen a notable rise in private equity transactions such as a US$175 million fund restructuring and secondary acquisition for Rajeev Srivastava’s Basil Partners, a Singapore-based investment firm. The firm advised Committed Advisors and NewQuest as anchor investors on the deal. Other achievements include advising Sindicatum Renewables on a triple-tranche green bond, the first in Southeast Asia denominated in Indian rupees and Philippine pesos, repayable in US dollars. Both deals were featured in India Business Law Journal’s 2018 Deals of the Year.

Clients speak enthusiastically of Dorsey & Whitney’s capital markets prowess. They offer an “extremely competitive price for a good quality service with extensive partner involvement, which is unusual compared to other international firms,” says John Kim, director of legal for capital markets at MUFG Securities Hong Kong. David Cameron and Debolina Saha who joined the firm from Allen & Overy, receive high praise. “They have a very strong track record in India and are great India debt capital market lawyers to work with,” says one client. Another client, Salil Kumar, an investment banker at YES Bank, says: “Dorsey has been around in India for a considerable amount of time and is strong, particularly on the equity side. I like their philosophy of not loading partners with too many deals at one time. They also have a back-up partner on each deal ensuring seamless substitution.” Cameron, who co-chairs the India practice with Kenny Kwok, has worked on India deals for his entire career. Highlights this year include acting as sellers’ counsel on a 144A equity placement by Eight Roads; advising Citi as trustee on the 144A high-yield bond offer by Vedanta Resources, and advising on a domestic rights offer for an Indian resource conglomerate.

law firmsDWF is headquartered in Manchester and has 27 offices around the world. The firm’s recent India work, led from its branches in Singapore and Dubai, involved matters relating to acquisitions, distribution, regulatory issues, employment compliance, and investments. Accomplishments include assisting a listed Indian entity on a regional acquisition in Southeast Asia; a multinational entity, with regional headquarters in India, on matters relating to regional employment compliance in Asia Pacific, and an Indian conglomerate on ongoing matters pertaining to its European operations. Babita Ambekar, who joined from Duane Morris & Selvam last November, leads the India transactions practice, while Oommen Matthew, DWF’s managing partner in Singapore, heads up the India disputes practice. Babita is a very seasoned, mature and capable lawyer,” says Deepika Chaudhry, executive director of legal at Xerox India. “I’d like to work with her anytime as she is really dependable, effective and quick to respond.”

law firmsFoley Hoag has offices in Boston, New York, Washington and Paris. The firm showcased its dispute resolution skills last year in an international arbitration as counsel to the Indian government in its first bilateral investment treaty arbitration after Court of Arbitration dismissed a US$36 million claim by Louis Dreyfus Armateurs. The French logistics company had entered into an arbitration with the government over its investment in a cargo handling project at Haldia Bulk Terminal that it had to withdraw from in 2012 citing interference from other parties and mounting losses.

For years, Frost Brown Todd has devoted time and energy to helping startup businesses in India that have 20-100 employees, particularly in the technology sector, which have strived to enter the US market. The firm has been active on India deals since 2000, and assisted Tata Consultancy Services in selecting and growing its North American delivery center in Cincinnati, Ohio, where it now has over 1,200 US employees. The firm has expanded its relationship with Indian firm Kochhar & Co through a data privacy alliance. It worked with Indian counsel to obtain Indian foreign filing license for a US-based client’s patent application; assisted US medical device companies in acquiring patents in India, and collaborating with patent counsel in India, and advised an Indian-owned startup on US entity formation, employment and tax matters.

Gowling WLG has advised Indian corporates and financial institutions on public and private M&A, equity capital markets, joint ventures and collaborations, banking and finance, intellectual property, IT and real estate transactions. Past clients include Essar, Mahindra & Mahindra, Greenko Group, Lalit Hotel Group and JSW Energy. At the beginning of the year, Gowling entered into a revised referral agreement with Indian law firm Naik Naik & Co, which has two offices in Mumbai. The agreement deepens the existing relationship between the two firms, allowing Gowling’s clients in Canada access to Indian legal services and Naik’s clients legal capabilities across Canada, the UK, Europe, the Middle East and Asia.

Greenberg Traurig has 2,100 lawyers in 41 offices worldwide. The firm was counsel to Platform Specialty Products in the US$4.2 billion sale of Arysta LifeScience and its subsidiaries to UPL. It was also selected as a legal adviser to Constellation Alpha Capital Corp, a special purpose acquisition company, on its purchase of Medall Healthcare, an integrated pathology and radiology company. The US$212 million deal was one of largest investments in an Indian diagnostics company last year.

Holman Fenwick Willan’s history in the Indian subcontinent is rooted to its shipping specialization, however, it has broadened its offerings to commodities, insurance and reinsurance, aviation, infrastructure, construction, power and corporate matters. Some examples of its recent work include acting for an Indian entity in relation to a breach of a charter party by a Canadian entity and conducting arbitration at London Maritime Arbitrators’ Association to recover sums in excess of US$1 million; providing corporate assistance to an Indian client on a high-profile steel pre-payment deal, and securing summary judgments in the English High Court against two Indian metals traders for breaches of contracts, which it is currently seeking to enforce. Paul Dean and Sam Wakerley are primary contacts.

Ohio-based law firm Kegler Brown Hill & Ritter capitalizes on its strengths in the healthcare, technology, software, education and big data industries. Recent work includes negotiating and drafting agreements, and structuring a US subsidiary for an Indian transportation and logistics company; managing IP licensing agreements and trademark portfolios for an Indian company involved in herbal supplements, and managing IP infringement litigation for an Indian company in a US federal court and the USPTO. Vinita Mehra, head of the firm’s global business practice, is dual-licensed to practice law in Ohio and in India. CK Satyapriya, the CEO at CT Leng, has consulted Kegler Brown for both US and India-related business issues. “Kegler Brown is very responsive, while paying attention to our leads,” says Satyapriya. “I would recommend Vinita Mehra, since she is admitted both in India and the US and thus navigates between the two countries well.”

law firmsKobre & Kim’s forte lies in disputes and investigations. Partner Vasu Muthyala has developed strong links with Indian law firms and companies. The firm represented the Indian partner of a US-Indian joint venture where the US partner is a listed entity, advising the former on global strategy and risks relating to allegations of bribery and potential mitigation of any impact related to its US partner. It also assisted a senior level executive of a global leading investment firm in an internal investigation arising from a whistleblower complaint and represented an Indian tech firm to recover funds that were fraudulently misappropriated as a result of a sophisticated global online scheme that involved India, the US, Hong Kong and China. Anil Choudhary, a partner at Finsec Law Advisors, calls the firm “as good as the best in the industry”. Choudhary worked with the firm on a matter relating to insider trading laws and says Kobre & Kim conducts “very focused Indian-related work with good domain knowledge and an understanding of the Indian legal ecosystem”.

law firmsMorrison & Foerster often clinches roles on big-ticket deals, particularly private equity transactions, involving Indian companies. Last year the firm advised IndoSpace, an Indian developer of industrial real estate and warehousing facilities, in the formation of IndoSpace Logistic Parks III; the largest logistics real estate fund ever raised in India. Amit Kataria is a key figure for India work.

International firm Orrick concentrates on technology, energy and infrastructure, finance, litigation and intellectual property and transactional work. Abhijit Narayan recently joined the firm’s Dusseldorf office as a foreign counsel, moving from Hengeler Mueller where he was an active member of the India team. Narayan is an India-qualified lawyer and has practised for 10 years with law firms in India, Germany and the UK. The firm intends to expand its India offerings beyond Germany to other jurisdictions where it has a presence.

Regional firms to watch (worldwide)
  • Bennett Jones (Canada)
  • Blakes (Canada)
  • BSA Ahmad Bin Hezeem (UAE)
  • CNP Law (Singapore)
  • Elias Neocleous & Co (Cyprus)
  • ENSAfrica Fladgate (UK)
  • Kojima Law Offices (Japan)
  • Levy & Salomão (Brazil)
  • Meitar Liquornik Geva Leshem Tal (Israel)
  • Nishimura & Asahi (Japan)
  • Noerr (Germany)
  • Royds Withy King (UK)
  • SKW Schwarz (Germany)
  • TMI Associates (Japan)
  • Walkers (Bermuda, BVI, Cayman, Guernsey, Ireland, Jersey)
  • William Fry (Ireland)
  • WongPartnership (Singapore)

 

Middle East firm BSA Ahmad Bin Hezeem, founded in Dubai in 2001, has offices in Abu Dhabi, Beirut, Erbil, Muscat, Paris, Ras Al Khaimah, Riyadh and Sharjah. Its core practice areas are corporate and M&A, litigation and arbitration, banking and finance, employment, fraud, intellectual property and real estate. Anand Singh, who recently joined from the Dubai office of Kennedys, leads the India initiative. “I found them to be far closer to the ground realities of the changing legal landscape of India than many others with whom I have interacted over last few years,” says one client. “Their team is excellent. [Singh] is much more hands on than any other lawyer that I have come across.” Major India assignments over the past 12 months include working with an Indian life insurance company in its UAE setup and licensing with local regulators and advising the Indian branch of a foreign bank on restructuring in relation to an escrow funding mechanism to enable acquisition of shares of an offshore listed company.

Elias Neocleous & Co has been a commanding presence in Cyprus’ legal market for over 50 years. Over the past year the firm provided tax advice to a corporate client, who intended to invest as qualified foreign investor, in collaboration with a top Indian law firm. The firm provided guidance on the Goods and Services Tax and whether it would be advantageous to have a Cyprus entity as an intermediate company given the recent tax reforms and amendments made to the India treaties with Cyprus. It also advised L&T Infrastructure Finance Company on a financing to be granted to six borrowing entities which own shares in Cyprus companies.

Brazilian firm Levy & Salomão has forged a long-lasting bond with industrial aluminium company Novelis, a subsidiary of Hindalco Industries which is a flagship company of the Aditya Birla Group. The firm has assisted Novelis and its subsidiaries on financing and banking issues for more than 11 years. Most recently, it assisted the aluminium giant on amendments to its US$1.8 billion term loan credit agreement; provision of an additional incremental loan of US$775 million, and a short-term bridge loan of US$1.5 billion. Luiz Roberto de Assis is a primary contact for India.

UK law firm Royds Withy King has offices in London, Bath, Bristol, Oxford and Swindon. Bharat Sahai, manager of credit at Bank of India’s London branch usually engages the firm for advice on the documentation of new credit facilities as well as litigation relating to non-performing asset accounts. “The legal services provided by Royds Withy King is of high standard and on par with other high-rated international law firms that we deal with,” says Sahai. Milan Kapadia and Stewart Wilkinson offer services of “a good understanding of India-related matters”. On the contentious side, the firm initiated an action against Firestar International, jeweller Nirav Modi and the Indian and Hong Kong corporate guarantors regarding a US$12 million facility. The case required claims in the UK, Dubai, India and Hong Kong with service on Modi effected while he was imprisoned in the UK.

While German law firm SKW Schwarz provides clients with a full-service offering, its India work has focused primarily on trademark prosecution and enforcement. Sonil Singhania, a partner at Singhania & Partners, has collaborated with the firm on trademark and patent matters. The firm offers “significant experience on cross-border transactions between India and Germany and thus has had the opportunity to give more holistic advice to their clients,” says Singhania. He recommends Dorothee Altenburg and Sebastian von Wallwitz for their solid grasp of Indian laws. Samta Mehra, a partner at Remfry & Sagar, commends the firm’s expertise in pharmaceuticals, retail and digital businesses. “They provide effective advisory suiting client needs in a quick span of time,” says Mehra. “Margret Knitter is an expert in all matters of intellectual property and competition law.”

Disputes specialist Richard Breen and technology partner John Magee have played prime roles in building William Fry’s Ireland-India business initiatives. In 2014, Breen spent four months on partner secondment practising international arbitration in Delhi at the former Amarchand Mangaldas. Magee has worked to educate Indian technology companies that hold EU data on issues such as the recently introduced GDPR and exploiting IP in Ireland. The firm works on a range of sectors, from outsourcing and aircraft asset management to digital transformation and biotechnology. Past Indian clients include HCL Technologies, Mindtree, Tata, Wockhardt and Wipro. The firm has acted for NIIT, a learning management and training solution company since 2015 from the initial country query stage through to establishing its European headquarters. It continues to provide NIIT with ongoing legal and tax advice.