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LexTalk World Talk Show with Anku Khanna, Managing Partner, The Attorneys Corporate Law Consultants



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.


Interview:

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?


ANKU :

  • 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.


Our Questions:


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.


Q1

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.


Q2

India saw $82.3 billion pending and completed M&A deals in Q2.


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