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Khaitan scoops senior Nishith Desai duo Ajinkya, Sid Shah; NDA fills gaps

Ajinkya: Global tax
Ajinkya: Global tax
Exclusive: Nishith Desai Associates (NDA) senior practice co-heads Siddharth Shah and Bijal Ajinkya will join Khaitan & Co in Mumbai as funds and tax partners respectively in around two weeks.

Shah and Ajinkya left NDA in January, respectively after 16 and 12 years at the firm.

Khaitan & Co Mumbai partner Rabindra Jhunjhunwala said: “We are very excited to have them – we are strengthening our existing funds and existing tax teams and we see both of them as absolute leaders in their respective fields.

“We are really looking forward to having them at KCO.”

The last reported senior level hire at Khaitan was competition lawyer Paku Khan, who agreed to join from Amarchand Mangaldas in Delhi more than a year ago. “Frankly we never stopped (hiring),” commented Jhunjhunwala. “Our vision is to grow - we are not going to pass any opportunity which comes by.”

Shah: Corporate & funds
Shah: Corporate & funds

Shah and Ajinkya said last month that they were also exploring the option of starting up a new firm.

He graduated with a BE (engineering) degree from Saurashtra University in 1993 and joined NDA in 1996, while she had joined NDA in 2000 after obtaining LLB and LLM degrees from Government Law College Mumbai.

NDA well-wishes, reshapes

NDA founder Nishith Desai commented: “We’ve enjoyed good relationships (…) and if they do good I’m happy. We respect people even when they leave and I’ve extended all my support. Whatever makes you happy, I’m happy.

“After 16 years , (…) they’ve given whatever they can. I know that. (We) actually want to celebrate the 16 years they gave, rather than crying when they leave.”

Shah headed the firm’s investment funds practice, which continues to be chaired by Nishith Desai, as well as the general corporate advisory practice. He also co-headed the real estate practice with Nishchal Joshipura, who is a lawyer, qualified MBA and chartered accountant.

Partner-level lawyers Joshipura and Pratibha Jain, a former Goldman Sachs general counsel (GC) who joined in Delhi in September 2011, have now taken over as co-heads of the investment funds practice.

Ajinkya headed the international tax litigation practice, which will be headed by Vyapak Desai, a trained mediator and arbitration specialist, who will also head up the cross-border litigation and disputes resolution practice. Vyapak Desai also practices in the corporate, capital markets, private equity and securities practice groups.

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