Ashurst’s India practice celebrates its 20th anniversary this year, and emerges from our research with numerous recommendations for its work in capital markets, projects, energy, finance and disputes. Senior corporate partner Richard Gubbins leads a team made up of 25 fee earners drawn from offices in seven countries, who have collectively worked on several noteworthy India-facing matters over the course of the year. In May 2013 Matthew Bubb was named as the firm’s new Asia managing partner, bringing extensive Indian transactional expertise to the table. Since April 2011 Ashurst has had a “best friend” relationship with India Law Partners, but also enjoys relationships with several other leading Indian law firms as a result of co-adviser roles, such as working together with Amarchand on the GVK Hancock coal project in Queensland.
Ashurst has recently emerged as a leading player in block trades, with involvement in nearly every significant block trade executed over the Indian stock exchanges since May 2012. The firm advised on the $2.4 billion ONGC secondary global offering through the OFS mechanism through India’s stock exchange: one of the year’s largest equity transactions, and particularly innovative as it was the first offering under the recently established auction mechanism. Ashurst acted for Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Citi, HSBC, JM Financial, Morgan Stanley and Nomura on the matter.
The firm has also acted for India’s state-run gas company GAIL on its sale of about $65 million worth of its stake in China Gas Holdings; Aditya Birla Group subsidiary Essel Mining on its proposed acquisition by scheme of arrangement of Northern Iron; Bosch on the restructuring of its assets in India; and WorldPay on its acquisition of the entire issued share capital of the YesPay International Group of companies, a leading international payments services provider.
On the banking and finance side the firm has acted for Punjab International Bank on a working capital facility made available to a Belgian industrial manufacturing company, and a consortium of Belgian banks (ING Belgium, Dexia Bank and KBC Bank) in relation to the acquisition by Binani Group of 3B-Fibreglass SPRL; Credit Suisse on a $100 million trade finance facility to finance advance payment for the purchase of Basmati Rice; and Axis Bank for its $60 million financing in Godawari Power & Ispat’s iron ore plant in Raipur.
Among the largest disputes handled by the group in 2013 was Siemens’ multimillion-euro arbitration against National Thermal Power Corporation in relation to the construction of a gas-fired power station in India. The dispute is currently at the enforcement stage and there are ongoing proceedings in the Delhi High Court.