Freshfields showed its commitment to India-related work in 2013 with the appointment of Arun Balasubramanian as co-head of its India practice group in Singapore. Speaking of the promotion, Freshfield’s Asia managing partner Rob Ashworth said: “The Indian and South-East Asian markets are increasingly important to the firm’s clients and Arun’s experience will enhance our ability to assist them.” Perhaps more than any other international law firm, Freshfields has devoted a lot of time and energy to studying the Indian marketplace over the past year, publishing several reports on the country’s position as a global investment destination.
While the findings of these surveys have not been deaf to the challenges of the market, the firm has shown little sign of winding down its activity in India. Recent engagements include advising BG Group on the sale of its 65.12 per cent stake in Gujarat Gas Company, India’s largest private sector natural gas distribution company, for approximately $470 million. Other past transactions include advising Danone on the acquisition of an infant nutrition business in India and for BT on the sale of interests in Tech Mahindra to Mahindra. London’s Pratap Amin and fellow Tim Jones acted on both matters and Amin also advised BP with regard to the sale of its solar usiness to Tata. Both Amin and Jennifer Bethlehem acted for JB Chemicals & Pharmaceuticals on the sale of its Russia/CIS over-the-counter business to Cilag GmbH International. The firm also advised Tokyo-based Arysta LifeScience on its acquisition of a majority interest in Devidayal Sales, one of the top 10 privately owned agrochemical companies in India. The New York team, led by Timothy Wilkins, worked alongside Platinum Partners who advised on Indian law.
In relation to capital markets work, Freshfields advised Essar Energy on its £1.3 billion IPO on the London Stock Exchange. The team was led by London corporate partners Neil Radford and Stuart Grider and the transaction involved an offering of shares representing approximately 23 per cent of Essar Energy’s share capital, as well as an over-allotment option over a further two per cent of Essar Energy’s enlarged share capital. Grider has subsequently been mandated by two Indian companies on their IPOs, and remains the firm’s relationship partner for Essar.