“The 10 Highly Trusted Merger & Acquisition Consulting Firms in 2018”
- Brief us about your company and what kind of solutions/services/products does your company offer at par with the current industry standards?
AZB & Partners was founded in 2004 with a clear purpose to provide reliable, practical and full-service advice to clients, across all sectors. The Firm brought together the practices of CZB & Partners in Mumbai and Bangalore and Ajay Bahl & Company in Delhi. Having grown steadily since its inception, AZB & Partners now has offices across Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, and Pune.
We have an accomplished and driven team of over 430 lawyers committed to delivering best-in-class legal solutions to help clients achieve their objectives.
We are considered an M&A powerhouse and a one-stop shop which provides our clients, services across all major practice areas. Our firm is considered one of the top 2 law firms in India.
Our greatest strength is an in-depth understanding of legal, regulatory and commercial environments, in India and elsewhere. This strength enables us to provide bespoke counsel to help our diverse clients negotiate any dynamic or volatile business environment. At AZB & Partners, collaboration is an everyday reality – we combine individual and mutual strengths to achieve collective growth.
The legal services rendered by us cover the corporate, commercial, regulatory, financial and tax planning aspects of modern businesses. We have been involved in advising in the field of mergers, acquisitions, joint ventures and general corporate, regulatory practice and securities laws, private equity, capital markets, funds practice, banking and finance, compliance & investigation, anti-corruption, anti bribery, anti money laundering and corporate governance, microfinance, derivatives, infrastructure and project finance, real estate, media and entertainment, information technology and business process outsourcing, employment, insurance, intellectual property, pharmaceuticals and biotechnology, taxation, aviation, competition law, and litigation and arbitration.
The Firm’s clients include an array of domestic and international companies. These range from privately owned to publicly listed companies, including Fortune 500 entities, multinational companies (MNCs), Investment Banks, Private Equity firms and more across the world. The Firm has also built, through its many professional engagements, strong relationships with specialists, regulatory authorities and several international law firms.
- During the journey towards growth, what are the challenges the company has faced?
Our growth has been fairly explosive. We started with 12 lawyers in the late 90s and we have grown as India has grown. The challenge is, as always, growing at an extremely fast pace trying to keep quality standards consistent and always trying to be best in class which required best lawyers, a rigorous training and a passion for letterhead. The task was to grow a scorching practice when training sometimes suffered.
- Share your point of view on the current scenario of the Industry and its future.
The legal profession and law firms are thriving. There is enough space for all. We believe that all law firms will continue to do well, especially the ones that have the quality to do so. Legal issues are becoming more and more nuanced and the client depends much more than before on his lawyers’ assessment of risk and to judge his appetite for the relevant degree of risk.
- Tell us something about the CEO/founder/MD of the company?
Ms. Zia Mody was the founder of the 12-lawyer firm which has now grown. There are 3 founding partners of AZB & Partners viz. Mr. Ajay Bahl, Ms. Zia Mody and Mr. Bahram N. Vakil.
Mr. Ajay Bahl:
Widely recognised as one of India’s foremost corporate attorneys, Ajay Bahl has been involved in complex and high profile legal and tax transactions. In addition to being a lawyer, he is a qualified chartered accountant, which strengthens his expertise in structuring, restructuring and transfer pricing related issues. His experience spans an array of sectors, including media and broadcasting, financial services, telecommunications and information technology.
On behalf of the Indian Government, Ajay has served before the International Court of Justice, Hague, as an independent expert on accounting and tax issues. He also served as a member of the committee constituted by the Ministry of Finance in India, formed to simplify the provisions of the Income Tax Act. He is also a member of the Appellate Panel, formed by the Institute of Insolvency Professionals, set up to discipline insolvency professionals. Additionally, Ajay was a member of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) Economic Growth and Investments Council. He is also on the Board of Governors of the Indian Institute of Corporate Affairs (IICA), nominated by the Ministry of Corporate Affairs. Ajay was a member of the Committee to review the offences under the Companies Act, 2013 constituted by the Ministry of Corporate Affairs, Government of India in July 2018.
Ms. Zia Mody:
Renowned for her contribution to the legal world at large, Zia Mody is amongst India’s most formidable corporate lawyers. Considered an authority on corporate law, mergers and acquisitions, securities law, private equity and project finance, she has advised clients across the world on marquee deals.
Zia served as Vice President and member of the London Court of International Arbitration from 2009 through 2013. She was also a member of the World Bank Administrative Tribunal from 2008 through 2013. She continues to serve on several government committees on financial reforms and corporate governance.
Zia has earned tremendous appreciation as a role model for women in business. In 2017, 2016 and 2015, she was ranked amongst Fortune India’s Top 5 Most Powerful Business Women in India and in 2018 she was ranked No. 1 in the same list. Likewise by Forbes India as one of India’s 10 Most Powerful Women from 2013 through 2016; and by Forbes Asia as one of Asia’s 50 Power Businesswomen in 2015.
Her other achievements include her recognition as:
- The Deputy Chairman and a Non-Executive Director of the HSBC Asia Pacific Board
- Member of the Governing Board of the International Council for Commercial Arbitration (ICCA)
- Foreign arbitrator on the Panel of Arbitrators of the China International Economic and Trade Arbitration Commission (CIETAC)
- Member of the Godrej Committee on Corporate Governance constituted by the Ministry of Corporate Affairs in 2012
- Member of the “Committee on Rationalisation of Investment Routes and Monitoring of Foreign Portfolio Investments” formed by the Securities and Exchange Board of India in 2013, under the chairmanship of Shri K.M. Chandrashekar
- Member of Committee on Comprehensive Financial Services for Small Businesses and Low-Income Households (2014), chaired by Dr. Nachiket Mor, appointed by the Reserve Bank of India.
Mr. Bahram N. Vakil:
Regarded as a renowned restructuring, bankruptcy, infrastructure and project finance attorney, Bahram Vakil was appointed as a key member of the Bankruptcy Law Reforms Committee (BLRC), chaired by Dr. T K Viswanathan and constituted by the Ministry of Finance to draft the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 (IBC). Bahram is also a member of the Insolvency Law Amendment Committee, constituted by the Ministry of Corporate Affairs for recommending amendments to the IBC.
As part of his restructuring and bankruptcy experience, Bahram has advised bidders, insolvency professionals, domestic and international banks, hedge funds and interim financiers under the IBC, including the large stressed accounts referred to insolvency resolution by the RBI.
Bahram also served on the U.K. Sinha Committee – Working Group on Foreign Investment in India, Financial Sector Legislative Reforms Committee (FSLRC) – SEBI Advisory Group and SEBI Sub – Group on Regulatory Guidelines for Redeemable Non – Convertible Preference shares.
- What are the benefits and support your clients is getting from your company in this fastest growing competitive world?
We believe that our clients get highly sophisticated and nuanced in areas which are subject to regulatory scrutiny and intervention with a deep understanding of the issues in play. We also guide them in an extremely competitive world on the right type of behaviour and the absolute need for corporate governance.
- Kindly brief us about your strategies to tackle the competition in your sector. What steps are you taking to ensure that you continue to grow and develop?
Our strategy to tackle competition is simple – hire the best, train the best, retain the best and let your quality speak for itself.
- Tell us something about your upcoming services/plans.
We have plans to expand in relatively new practice areas such as Forensic, Competition, Tax litigation, etc. Our plan is to deepen bench strength in the Insolvency & Bankruptcy practice and focus even more on the forensic practice of the Firm.
- What are the future plans of your company? How are you/is your company contributing in making it better?
Our future plan is to grow and to outstrip competition in terms of the quality of lawyers and the advice we offer. The plans are to continue to be best in class and to create clear blue water between us and the rest of our brethren. It is our partners who will ensure that this whole position which we strive for is retained whilst retaining the very special DNA of the Firm.