Anku heads the corporate and commercial group of the firm. She has more than 23 years of experience as a corporate lawyer. Her practice is focused primarily on general corporate matters, structuring and handling transactions involving joint ventures, mergers and acquisitions, private equity, technology transfers, strategic alliance and capital market transactions. She specializes in Corporate and Commercial law, Foreign Exchange Management regulations, Securities law, regulatory and compliance related laws including labour and employment laws and POSH.
She has extensive experience in advising clients in the fields of consumer products, information technology broadcasting, media & entertainment, sports, education, technology & e-commerce, infrastructure, power, real estate construction development projects, manufacturing, liquor, pharmaceuticals, disinvestment of public sector undertakings, trading including banks and financial institutions and insurance companies. Being a qualified company secretary she is adept in handling all corporate regulatory and compliance assignments for client companies and has made appearances before Department of Company Affairs, Company Law Board, Registrar of Companies, Reserve Bank of India, Securities and Exchange Board of India, Stock Exchanges and other regulatory bodies on a regular basis.
She is a member of Bar Council of Delhi, Institute of Company Secretaries of India, International Bar Association and Asia Law.
Host: Tell us about a complex legal issue you worked on. Describe the complexity and tell us how you approached it.
ANKU : Currently working for a Europe based Client who has developed digital banking platform offering Banking as a Service to its customers in the UK and Europe. It wants to provide its services to Indian customers also. We are their legal counsels and are advising them on the regulatory and legal implications of their operations in India. As we know banking and financial sector is highly regulated sector in India, so there are umpteen challenges. Neo banking services are new in India and so regulations are not clear. We are guiding them as to how they can set up their operations in India and comply with Indian regulations so that they do not face any legal challenge. Our approach is to give them clarity about what is permitted under Indian laws and what is prohibited, create such a structure that their activities fall within the ambit of permitted activities of RBI. Further, in order to be 100% sure, we discussed their model with the industry experts in our team and also approached RBI and discussed their business with the concerned official on a no name basis.
Host: The saw some courts begin moving towards more remote proceedings and availability. Is this sustainable, and a possible way to increase access to justice, in your opinion?
ANKU : India is moving very fast in introducing technology and digitization of administration and governance framework. I feel it is sustainable and more than that need of the hour.
Host: How would you rate the current legal system's drive towards encouraging access to justice? Is there tangible movement in closing the justice gap?
ANKU : Access to justice is an essential ingredient of the rule of law. People need to be able to access the courts and legal processes or the law cannot enforce people's rights and responsibilities.
Efforts are required to streamline the processes for quicker disposal of cases by elaborate use of technology and encouraging arbitration and other ADR mechanisms. Yes, there has been tangible movement to bridge this gap. Recently National Lok Adalats have set up an example by disposing of approximately 40 lakh cases in March 2022 and around 57 lakh cases in May 2022. So, alternatives have to be implemented so that easy access to justice is achieved. Chief Justice UU Lalit himself has disposed record 5000 plus cases in 10 days’ time.
Host: In the era of legal technology, what are the most commonly used tools for you?
Video conferencing platforms: Zoom, Google meet, Microsoft teams, Cisco Webex
Electronic signature tools
Team communication platforms
eFiling and eService
Practice management software: to organize and manage court dates, automate cases, calendar events, templates, case files, etc
Document management software: storing documents in the cloud improves collaboration, enables better version control, and enhances sharing capabilities.
Host: Time is money in any profession and in legal it's most of all. How do you ensure to make the best of your time as a lawyer?
ANKU : As a law firm we use the above tools to ensure efficiency and optimum utilization of time. Besides this during a typical M&A transaction for example for doing due diligence earlier the team had to visit the target’s site to get data. Nowadays all companies are instructed to set up an online Data Room which is accessible to the legal team 24/7. Similarly, majority of the negotiations take place on virtual meetings which saves time and cuts cost immensely.
Host: We are seeing an influx of new age businesses in India on a large scale. Could you specify few of the new age businesses which your Firm is handling and advising the clients from the Indian law perspective?
ANKU : Some of the new age and evolving businesses advised by us are:
EV: have assisted an US based automobile company in setting up their operations in India and advising them in their operations on a regular basis.
Fintech: We are advising a few foreign clients in their pursuit to set up companies for providing digital and neo banking services to Indian people
NFTs, Crypto, online gaming: advising on the right structuring and drafting of the related contracts.
Host: Post Covid how is FDI and M&A’s contributing to Indian economy. How does the year 2023 look to you considering the alarm West is raising about global recession?
ANKU : As per Govt. of India FDI inflows to India may cross $100 billion in 2022-23 helped by the Make-in-India initiative and steps taken by the government to improve the country’s ranking in ease of doing business.
The data by Refinitiv suggests that M&A activity in India touched an all-time high of US$148 billion in the first nine months of 2022, witnessing a surge of 58.2 percent year-on year (y-o-y). India’s domestic M&A activity soared by 190 percent in 2022 to US$105.6 billion, primarily driven by the merger of Housing Development Finance Corp -HDFC Bank in a deal valued at US$60.4 billion, the largest Indian-involvement deal on record.
174 deals; $11.5 billion
The technology, media and telecom (TMT) sector lead the M&A market in India. TMT claimed six of the top 10 largest deals in the country in Q1 2022.
India saw $82.3 billion pending and completed M&A deals in Q2.
The surge in India was dominated by HDFC Bank Ltd’s $60 billion all-stock purchase of Housing Development Finance Corp in April, combining India’s most valuable bank and largest mortgage lender in the country’s biggest-ever M&A transaction.
Companies in India leading the shift to renewable energy were among the biggest dealmakers. Shell Plc agreed to buy renewable power supplier Sprng Energy Pvt for $1.5 billion in April, while French oil giant TotalEnergies SE purchased a 25% stake in Adani New Industries Ltd. in July.
60 deals in Q3 2022; $596 million
Three deals valued over $1 billion, 10 deals valued between $100 and $999 million, 15 deals valued between $5 and $99 million, according to a report by Grant Thornton Bharat.
The fall in the deal activity was due to the lowest cross-border activity recorded for the Q3 period since 2011marking the lowest deal values for the period mentioned above.
The largest deals were executed in the HealthTech space. Torrent Pharmaceutical's acquisition of Curatio Health for $263 million was the biggest merger and acquisition (M&A) deal.
Scenario in 2023
In my view and my view is based on the views of the experts, while merger and acquisition (M&A) activity is experiencing a major slump in the US, Europe, and Asia-Pacific markets, India has defied global downward trends by registering record M&A deals in the first nine months (January-September) of 2022. Factors behind the dealmaking surge include the want for better technology know-how and strategizing value creation to expand market share, facilitative regulatory regime, as well as the global funding winter, which is expected to continue till the second quarter (Q2) of 2023.
With the introduction of pragmatic reforms, including the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT), fast track merger process, as well as permission for cross border mergers, the monitoring landscape for M&A in India has become facilitative.
The impact of global recession on India will not be so pronounced.
Host: We came across that your Firm works a lot in the start up & SME space. What are the services that you provide to them in India? How do you think you can work with start ups and SMEs globally?
ANKU : In light of the fact that the startup ecosystem is rapidly evolving around the world driven by an extremely young, diverse and inclusive entrepreneurial landscape, in the capacity of a business-friendly Firm, we take immense pride to be associated with Start-Ups having novel, enterprising and futuristic business ideas and ventures which are ready to take off in today’s India. Keeping in line with the Firm’s objective and vision of providing legal support and hand-holding to the Start-Ups, the Firm has engaged itself with a lot of start –ups directly and as panelist with the incubation centres and accelerators who work with Start-Ups.
A. TheAttorneys is a One-stop Shop to handle all Legal Services for Startups/SMEs, namely
Health Check of the Start Up
strategy sessions with respect to:
issues faced by them during the take-off phase
Legal Challenges faced
d)Structuring of compensation of hired resources
Sweat equity, ESOPs –its operations in India under relevant laws
Ways of structuring the Company when investors come on Board
Assist to HR department in framing employee handbook and policies required to be framed by a company
B. Legal Support at the Funding Stage
Scouting of Funds through its network of Funds and Investors
Making the start-up Investor ready
Assist in structuring of the transaction and negotiations with the Investor,
documentation including drafting of Term Sheet, MoU, Shareholders Agreement and other transaction related documents,
Assistance in closure by taking care of the requisite compliances under Companies Act, 2013, Foreign Exchange Regulations and other sector specific compliances.
Post funding assistance in compliance management on a regular basis
Host: How do you think you can work with start ups and SMEs globally?
One we can assist them in starting their operations in India, if already present we can help them in scaling up their business in India.
Second, we can scout investors for them
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