Soumit Mohapatra to join Brand Capital as legal head
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Brand Capital, the ad-for-equity investment arm of media house Bennett, Coleman & Co Ltd (BCCL), has hired independent legal consultant Soumit Mohapatra to head the firm’s legal and compliance operations, two people familiar with the development said.

Mohapatra will replace Vinod Joseph, who has joined IDFC Alternatives to lead its legal and compliance portfolio.

An email query to Brand Capital did not elicit any response. Text messages and phone calls to Mohapatra remained unanswered till the time of filing this report.

Mohapatra is an alumnus of ILS Law Collage, Pune, and started his career at Dua & Associates in 2002.  He has previously worked with Australian law firm Gilbert + Tobin and domestic law firms Lexygen as well as Mumbai-headquartered boutique M&A advisory firm Platinum Partners as a consultant.

He moved out from Platinum Partners in December 2015 and had been working since then as an independent legal consultant in the field of private equity and venture capital investments.

“Soumit is good in working on investment as well as exit strategies,” said a senior partner at a Mumbai-based law firm who has worked with him. “This is the first time he is joining as an in-house adviser. More and more companies are attracting veterans from law firms with experience of investments and exits, which reflects the current market mood where we may see more transaction activities.”

BCCL, also known as the Times Group, is the publisher of daily newspapers such as The Times of India and The Economic Times. It also owns TV channels Times Now and ET Now as well as several digital properties.

Brand Capital has investments across sectors including real estate, education, pharmaceuticals, food and beverages, retail, financial services and consumer Internet, its website shows. Its portfolio companies include paint maker Burger, stock exchange BSE and commodity exchange MCX, online grocery store BigBasket, Glenmark Pharmaceutical and mutual fund houses HDFC Mutual Fund and ICICI Prudential.

Karl Fernandes, vice president and head of in-house practice group at legal and governance executive search firm Vahura, said that companies such as Brand Capital do a lot of equity investment deals regularly and so need a strong in-house transaction counsel who is a key strategic adviser on such deals. 

“These transaction counsels usually come from law firms that have a strong corporate and M&A practice,” Fernandes said. “There's been a steady demand for M&A lawyers as domestic M&A deals are on the rise in sectors such as telecom, infrastructure, financial services and manufacturing.” 

The PE and VC investment segment has seen several significant movements this year. In July, Kartikeya Singh quit as the deputy general counsel of Bank of America Merrill Lynch to join Altico Capital. In May, Shagoofa Khan, senior director and legal and compliance head at IDFC Alternatives, left to join Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas to head the firm’s fund advisory business.

In April, Deutsche Bank’s senior legal counsel Sapna Bhawnani decided to join Credit Suisse in Mumbai as its joint director and co-head of legal in India. Around the same time, Himanshu Dodeja left Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas to become general counsel at private equity major Blackstone.

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