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eBay founder Omidyar fund takes Amarchand Hyderabad head Mahalingam as first India GC

Mahalingam: Hyd to Bombay
Mahalingam: Hyd to Bombay

Amarchand Mangaldas Hyderabad head and partner Kartik Mahalingam has resigned to join the “philanthropic investment firm” Omidyar Network as its first India-based legal head in Mumbai.

By January Mahalingam is likely to join the fund, which was co-founded in 2004 by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar, as its first India-based legal counsel.

Jayant Sinha, Mumbai-based managing director at Omidyar, said that given the range of legal issues at the fund, he was very proud to have an accomplished legal professional such as Mahalingam join.

An India-based legal counsel was necessary for three reasons, said Sinha. “We have been very active in terms of deal flow in India – and we obviously need in-house legal support to work on a wide variety of transactions we have been involved in.

“Number two, we anticipate further growth internationally. Although we have three lawyers in Redwood, [California], it is good to be in a Timezone closer to Africa and Asia so it will be very good to have him here to help us support our international growth.”

The third reason was that working in non-profit sectors in India threw up legal issues, requiring expertise in regulations and public policy.

Mahalingam was recruited to Amarchand Mumbai in 2001 directly from NLSIU Bangalore, and in 2003 moved to the firm’s Bangalore office followed by relocating in 2006 to Hyderabad, which he later headed up.

He was promoted to Amarchand’s partnership in 2008.

It is understood that no successor has been appointed to take over from Mahalingam to manage Amarchand’s roughly 15-lawyer Hyderabad office. Amarchand declined to comment.

Omidyar invests in for-profit and not-for-profit organisations that “foster economic advancing and encourage individual participation” in sectors such as microfinance, entrepreneurship, transparency and property rights.

The fund is headquartered in California with offices in London and Mumbai, and has invested nearly $450m to date.

Sinha said that Omidyar worked with all the major law firms in India.

Mahalingam declined to comment when contacted last week.

In September Amarchand Mumbai principal associate Karan Pahwa also joined a venture capital fund – Bessemer Venture Partners (BVP) – as its first India-based in-house counsel.

Legally India reported two senior Amarchand lawyers’ resignations last week – director Paku Khan in Delhi and partner Ganesh Prasad in Mumbai.

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