Founded in 2004 when CZB & Partners in Mumbai merged with Ajay Bahl & Company in Delhi, AZB & Partners celebrates its tenth anniversary this year. The past decade has seen it quickly establish itself as one of India’s leading full-service law firms: “people mention AZB in the same breath as Amarchand and J Sagar”. The firm has moved away from the traditional family-style
set-up, however, and has a clear partnership track in place, which has led it to be credited for the modernity of its practice.
Traditional areas of focus such as corporate advisory and M&A remain the firm’s strongest suits, however its disputes and competition work have also attracted international attention over the past year.
Zia Mody is “one of India’s finest lawyers” according to respondents to our survey, who recognise her “mastery” of various different areas of practice. Who’s Who Legal features her in its international surveys of corporate governance, franchise, M&A and private funds, as well as commercial arbitration, having served as a vice president at the London Court of International Arbitration in a three-year term that ended in 2013. Ajay Bahl is similarly well regarded for his M&A and corporate governance work and is also highly spoken of for his tax advice. Ashwin
Ramanathan and senior partner and CEO Abhijit Joshi are also ranked in Who’s Who Legal for their M&A work, while Bahram Vakil is highlighted as one of India’s leading project finance lawyers (he is head of the firm’s infrastructure and project finance team). Equity partner Shuva Mandal also specialises in M&A and joint venture matters, and was named in our “40 under 45” survey of India’s leading young lawyers last year.
Samir Gandhi heads the competition practice at AZB, dealing with a range of antitrust law and policy issues, as well as international trade and WTO matters. He regularly acts in matters before the Competition Commission and has handled major competition litigation at various courts and tribunals, including the Competition Appellate Tribunal and the Supreme Court of India.
India’s Tata Group instructed Mody when it made its first overseas acquisition – that of NatSteel in 2005 – and subsequently made AZB & Partners its go-to counsel for foreign purchases, hiring the firm to advise on its acquisition of Corus in 2006 and Jaguar Land Rover in 2008. More recently, Mody led a team advising Vedanta Resources and Sesa Goa on the $8.7 billion acquisition of a sizeable chunk of oil company Cairn India, while partner Shameek Chaudhuri helped an African affiliate of Essar enter a $750 million joint venture with the Zimbabwe government to acquire steel and mining assets.
In the past year AZB has acted as Indian counsel to RBS during Ratnakar Bank’s acquisition of its business banking, credit card and residential mortgages businesses in India; acted as counsel to Asia Motorworks Holdings, the majority shareholder of AMW-MGM Forgings, in which Italy’s Metallurgica Siderforge acquired a majority stake; acted for DLF in its disposal
of shares and Dewan Housing Finance Corporation, which took over the shareholding, during the former’s exit from Prudential International Insurance Holdings; and acted alongside DLA Piper in advising Rolta India in the sale of $200 million of senior notes under the Rule 144A/Regulation S provisions of the US Securities