GCR 100 - 17th Edition

India

10 January 2017

India

India’s competition bar is thriving, with a steady stream of work flowing from the active Competition Commission of India – particularly when challenging the enforcer’s decisions at the Competition Appellate Tribunal.

Elite

SHARDUL AMARCHAND MANGALDAS & CO, formerly Amarchand Mangaldas & Suresh, is home to India’s largest and most successful competition practice. The senior leadership team – Pallavi Shroff, John Handoll, Naval Satarawala Chopra and Shweta Shroff Chopra – has been bolstered by new partners Harman Singh Sandhu, Manika Brar and Aparna Mehra, the latter joining from AZB & Partners in June 2014. The partners work alongside Gauri Chhabra, who recently joined as a senior consultant, and 16 full-time associates. The practice is predominantly based in New Delhi, although they are working on building up their team in Mumbai.

The firm’s competition work is once again active on all fronts. Pallavi Shroff leads the team that represents Maruti Suzuki in the automobile spare parts case, where the commission’s final judgment is being challenged on jurisdictional and substantive grounds before a number of high courts. Naval Chopra acts for online marriage website Bharat Matrimony in an abuse of dominance claim against Google. He also represents Uber, and successfully defended the company against two predatory pricing allegations. Chopra and Harman Singh Sandhu represent Monsanto and its Indian affiliates before the commission for alleged abuse of dominance. Meanwhile, Shweta Shroff Chopra and Manika Brar represented LH Hiranandani Hospital before the appeals tribunal, successfully overturning the commission’s order that found the hospital guilty of entering into anticompetitive agreements with a stem cell banking company.

The team also acted on some of the past year’s highest-profile cartel and merger control cases. They got the appeals tribunal to overturn a cartel finding against a subsidiary of LafargeHolcim on natural justice grounds, and acted for PVR when the cinema chain obtained conditional approval to acquire its largest competitor, DT Cinemas.

Samir Gandhi heads the competition practice at AZB & PARTNERS alongside Nisha Kaur Uberoi, who joined the partnership after her departure from Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas in August 2016. The move came just a few months after Percy Billimoria left AZB & Partners to head Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas’s New Delhi disputes practice group. Gandhi and Uberoi are joined by senior consultant Fadi Metanios and 23 associates based in New Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore.

The firm has many large Indian and international clients on its roster, most notably Google, which it is currently representing in the Competition Commission’s abuse of dominance investigation relating to the online search and search advertising markets. The team is also managing the defences for Tata Motors, Toyota and Mercedes-Benz in an abuse of dominance investigation into the automobile parts sector. They also acted for Dell in relation to its acquisition of EMC, and are currently defending Ambuja Cements Limited and Lafarge India Limited in relation to an alleged cement cartel before the Competition Appellate Tribunal.

One of India’s oldest law firms, KHAITAN & CO has established itself as a market leader in the country’s competition bar. The trio leading the practice – Avaantika Kakkar in Mumbai, Manas Chaudhuri in New Delhi and Arshad (Paku) Khan, currently in San Francisco – are held in high regard by their fellow practitioners. The team represents Indian and international clients in a range of industries, including pharmaceuticals, telecommunications, information technology, manufacturing, automotive and auto parts, chemicals, insurance and financial services.

They acted for HeidelbergCement, Royal Dutch Shell, Aditya Birla Group and EMC, among others, in separate merger control matters. When they obtained clearance for a tie-up between Sun and Ranbaxy, it marked the Competition Commission’s first-ever Phase II review. The firm successfully represented IndiGo Airlines before the appeals tribunal, which asked the commission to reconsider its airline cartel finding. Currently, they act for clients in the enforcer’s cement and automobile parts investigations, and Alkem Laboratories over allegations of being involved in an anticompetitive agreement. Other recent highlights include representing Shree Cement in an appeal against the commission in a cement cartel, case and acting for Mahindra & Mahindra in an auto parts cartel probe.

LUTHRA & LUTHRA remains active in the majority of the country’s big-ticket competition matters before the competition commission, Competition Appellate Tribunal and the Supreme Court. The competition practice is led by the highly regarded Gurdev Raj Bhatia, who was director general of the commission from 2003 to 2007. He and partners Abdullah Hussain and Kanika Chaudhary Nayar work alongside 14 associates.

The team acts for JC Bamford in relation to an abuse of dominance investigation, and has approached the Delhi High Court to challenge the commission’s jurisdiction over the case and the legality of its first dawn raid. They are also counsel to Mahyco in relation to the enforcer’s probe into Monsanto. On the deals side of things, Bhatia and his cohorts recently acted for Mandala Capital in relation to its investment into Jain Irrigation, and NTT with regard to its acquisition of certain businesses owned by Dell. They also represented Capgemini in its acquisition of iGate; Commscope in its acquisition of TE Connectivity’s BNS business; and a group of private equity investors led by Samara Capital in their acquisition of Pizza Hut and KFC outlets across India. The firm has also assisted companies with customised pre-dawn raid training sessions and has been nominated by many of these clients as an official contact in the event of dawn raids.

Amitabh Kumar leads the competition team at J SAGAR ASSOCIATES. As director general of the Competition Commission between 2004 and 2009, Kumar was responsible for drafting the authority’s regulations, as well as its early advocacy work. He joined the firm in 2010 and now works alongside three other partners, including Farhad Sorabjee, and a roster of associates. The team has a broad range of ongoing merger control work: they acted for Advent International when it acquired Crompton Greaves, Marriott in its acquisition of Starwood Hotels & Resorts, and Symphony Teleca when the company was picked up by Harman International Industries, among a lengthy list of other deals. On the behavioural side, the firm convinced the commission to revisit its assessment of the relevant market in an abuse of dominance probe, which resulted in charges dropped against its client ACI Inc. They successfully represented the Federation of Airlines in relation to cartel allegations, and acted for complainants in relation to the enforcer’s separate investigations into VeriFone India and Monsanto. They also act for two members of an alleged cartel in an ongoing antitrust investigation and a leniency applicant in a separate probe. In addition, the team provides competition advice to a number of high-profile clients, including Volvo, Canon, Hewlett Packard, Ford, Hyundai and Michelin.

TALWAR THAKORE & ASSOCIATES (in collaboration with Vinod Dhall) is headed by Vinod Dhall, who, as the founding member and former acting chairman of the Competition Commission, was responsible for creating the institutional and procedural framework of the authority before it became operational. Dhall leads a team of six competition lawyers, who enjoy a “best friend” relationship with Linklaters. They successfully represented Escorts Limited before the appeals tribunal, which reversed the commission’s decision that the company had rigged bids on a tender floated by Indian railways because of insufficient evidence. Moreover, the team acted for Lafarge when the company divested two cement plants pursuant to the company’s tie-up with Holcim. Other competition clients of the firm include Facebook, Sanofi Pasteur India, Thomas Cook, Lafarge, Novartis, PepsiCo and Warner Bros.

Firm

Head(S) of competition

Size

Who’s Who nominees

Clients

Elite

Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas & Co

Pallavi Shroff

1 senior partner

1 senior adviser

5 partners

1 senior consultant

16 associates

Pallavi Shroff

Naval Satarawala Chopra

John Handoll

Harman Singh Sandhu

Shweta Shroff Chopra

Microsoft Corporation, Uber, Monsanto, Coal India, Nestlé, Maruti Suzuki, National Stock Exchange of India, Alstom, Halliburton, Temasek, Bharat Matrimony

Highly Recommended

AZB & Partners

Samir Gandhi

Nisha Kaur Uberoi

2 partners

1 senior associates

23 associates

Samir Gandhi

Percival Billimoria

Google, LafargeHolcim, Diageo Mercedes-Benz, Tata Motors, Toyota, Dell, Ambuja Cements Limited

Khaitan & Co

Avaantika Kakkar

Manas Kumar Chaudhuri

Arshad (Paku) Khan

3 partners

1 principal associate

1 senior associates

8 associates

Avaantika Kakkar

Manas Kumar Chaudhuri

Arshad (Paku) Khan

Adidas, Apple, Clariant, Coca-Cola, EMC, HeidelbergCement, Igate, Jindal Steel and Power, Sun Pharmaceutical Industries, Royal Dutch Shell

Luthra & Luthra

Gurdev Raj Bhatia

3 partners

14 associates

None

JCB, Jet Airways, Nippon Telegraph and Telephone, Denso, NYK Line, Lufthansa Airlines, Mediterranean Shipping Company SA, Mandala Capital, Biocon Limited

Recommended

J Sagar Associates

Amitabh Kumar

4 partners

1 principal associate

3 associates

1 junior associates

Farhad Sorabjee

The Walt Disney Company, Yahoo! India, United Airlines, Association of Power Producers, PepsiCo India, Macmillan Publishers, L'Oréal, Dish TV India

Talwar Thakore & Associates

Vinod Dhall

1 executive chairman

2 managing associate

2 senior associate

2 associates

Vinod Dhall

Facebook, Novartis, Star India, Thomas Cook, Qatar Holdings, Saint Gobain Glass India, PepsiCo, Essar Steel India, Reliance Industries

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