Desai & Diwanji Rules 2009 M&A Roost With Amarchand, AZB, Khaitan

Desai & Diwanji Rules 2009 M&A Roost With Amarchand, AZB, Khaitan

By Neha Chauhan

  • 15 Jan 2010

Desai & Diwanji acted on 24 M&A deals in the 2009 calendar year, placing it at the top of data provider mergermarket's M&A league table by volume. Amarchand Mangaldas topped the table by value, having advised on M&A deals worth $6.4bn in 2009, while Khaitan & Co and AZB & Partners also gave a strong showing.

Besides completing the most number of M&A deals, Desai & Diwanji also advised on three of 2009's top 20 largest transactions. In total the firm advised on $4.3bn worth of deals, which made it the runner-up in the total deal values table behind Amarchand by $2.1bn.

Desai & Diwanji partner Vishwang Desai said: "The first six months of the calendar year 2009 were weak from a deal flow perspective and largely followed the experience in the West.


"However, activity in India picked up very significantly in the second half of 2009 and the calendar year has ended quite well," he added. "Currently there is a fair deal flow across sectors and we are seeing interest both in the investment and financing sectors. We think this trend will continue for some time."

Nevertheless, the first half of the year gifted Desai & Diwanji its three largest deals.

Desai & Diwanji's largest deal of the year came in January 2009 in its work for Quippo Telecom Infrastructure's $1.3bn acquisition in Tata Teleservices-owned company Wireless-TT Info-Services, which was advised by AZB.


In April 2009, Desai & Diwanji also advised Avendus Capital in Tech Mahindra's buy-out of the 51 per cent stake in ailing Satyam along with Amarchand & Mangaldas. Dutch firm De Brauw Blackstone Westbroek, US firm Jones Day and P&A Law Offices also profited from this $578m deal in the value league tables.

Desai & Diwanji's third major deal was the $783m July 2009 buy-out of Merieux Alliance-owned Shantha Biotechnics by Sanofi Pasteur. Desai & Diwanji worked with French firm Clement Vivien & Associes for the buyer, while Mayer Brown was the seller's counsel.

Desai & Diwanji's mean deal size by the end of the year stood at $178m.


By contrast, Amarchand's average deal size towered at $398m, which was the largest average value out of all firms with significant deal volumes in 2009.

Despite Amarchand's deal count of only 16 - which put the firm into fourth place by volume behind Desai & Diwanji, Khaitan & Co and AZB - Amarchand therefore managed to advise on deals amounting to $6.4bn to top the league table by value.

Partly contributing to Amarchand's performance was this year's largest transaction in November 2009. The firm picked up the mandate advising the Aditya Birla Group and the companies Samruddhi Cement, Grasim and UltraTech on their series of merger for an aggregate value of $2.8bn.


Mukesh Ambani's Reliance Industries (RIL) also powered a significant amount of Amarchand's M&A deal values, with two large Reliance Petroleum transactions in early 2009 keeping the firm busy.

Amarchand, AZB and Davis Polk & Wardwell advised on Reliance Industries' $263m cent stake purchase in Reliance Petroleum from Chevron of February 2009 and in March 2009 Amarchand was RIL's sole adviser in the $1,691 Reliance Petroleum internal stake sale.

Meanwhile, Khaitan & Co notched ahead of AZB in both league tables this year. In particular, Khaitan advised on two of mergermarket's top 20 listed deals of 2009 in the acquisition bid of Hospira by Orchid Chemicals, where the seller company was advised by Crawford Bayley and Latham & Watkins.


Khaitan & Co Mumbai corporate partner Rabindra Jhunjunwala said: "The market has been positive over the last 15 months. We have been working on several M&A and PE transactions which are in different stages of completion."

He mused that he had several favourite transactions in 2009. "Docomo was definitely on the top of my list, other important ones are Blackstone investments and Hospira. These have been quite large compared to deal sizes we’ve seen."

AZB slipped in both of the value and volume league tables to fourth and third spot respectively. Last year AZB was ranked first and second in respect of value and volume.

Nevertheless, AZB managed to advise on a total of 20 deals with a total value of $2.8bn and an average deal size of $144m. Notably, AZB assisted D E Shaw in selling $500m of its shares in DLF Assets Private back to DLF's K P Singh.

Trilegal meanwhile tallied up a total of 13 deals and managed to scale the current league table from 18th position in 2008 to fifth place this year. However, it also failed to graduate to the high-end M&A market with an average deal size of only $37m and no presence in the top 20 deals of 2009.

Out of the other domestic top 10 law firms by volume, J Sagar Associates (JSA) and Luthra & Luthra handled 12 and 11 deals M&A deals respectively with average deal sizes of roughly just under $100m.

JSA advised Chevron on the Reliance Petroleum deal, as well as on the sale of mining company V S Dempo to Sesa Goa that was advised by Luthra & Luthra and which was Luthra & Luthra's only top 20 M&A deal by value.

Nitish Desai Associates handled 10 deals and came eigth by volume, although the average value of $8m reflected the firm's niche boutique status.

Amongst the international law firms Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer ranked highest, rising from 32nd spot in 2008 to its present number nine position after advising on six M&A transactions totalling $737m.

Jones Day followed in tenth position with four deals amounting to $631m to its name.

Platinum Partners, which has a close association with Freshfields that is just shy of a best friendship, picked up a total of four deals and made its debut entry in the rankings.

AZB and Talwar Thakore Associates' respective best friend firms Clifford Chance and Linklaters Singapore both performed reasonably well and acted on three deals each.

Mergermarket's latest M&A data analysis revealed a global decline in M&A levels of 27 per cent, while in the Asia-Pacific region recording a gain of 6 per cent in value and a small drop of 5 per cent in volume of M&A transactions compared to 2008.

In 2009, Asia-Pacific made up 24 per cent of global M&A values and volume. Indian M&A deals constituted 9.2 per cent in volume and 4.4 per cent in value of the total for this region.

Methodology: mergermarket included announced transactions over $5m in value from 1 January to 31 December 2009. Deals with undisclosed values were included if the target's turnover exceeded $10m. Deals where a stake of less than 30 per cent is acquired were only included if the value exceeded $100m.

For the league tables, please click here.

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