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Desai, Khaitan, AZB, Amarchand lead M&A ranking, oust magic circle

Despite meagre pickings, Desai & Diwanji, Khaitan & Co, AZB & Partners and Amarchand Mangaldas have topped an M&A league table, together advising on 30 Indian deals worth a total of $9.4bn in the last six months.

In the same period last year, the same four firms also led data provider mergermarket's M&A league tables but collectively advised on 38 transactions with a value of $15.2bn.

They had also dominated the 2008 full-year list, continuing to close a total of 102 transactions valued at $30.3bn.

But in the last six months, Desai & Diwanji in the top spot racked up a tally of 10 deals worth only $2.5bn – in the same period last year, the firm had advised on nine deals amounting to $4.0bn.

Desai & Diwanji partner Vishwang Desai said the pipeline was strong but added: "My own observation about '09 has been that we were instructed on some very large deals but they were not advancing at the pace at which they were advancing earlier."

Almost all firms recorded significantly lower transaction values this year than the same period last year.

Several US firms profited heavily from the ongoing $1.9bn Sterlite Industries mining asset purchase deal of Asarco, which was the largest single transaction included in the rankings (see 'The big deals').

The big deals
Khaitan & Co and Shearman & Sterling jointly advised Indian Vedanta Resources subsidiary Sterlite, with US firm Baker Botts advising American miner Asarco on the $1.9bn asset sale. The two US firms therefore found themselves in joint fourth place in the value league table, despite having only one M&A deal to their name so far this year.

Amarchand's largest included deal was its instruction in Reliance Industries 24.62 per cent stake in Reliance Petroleum, worth $1.7bn in March. In February the firm had also advised Reliance Industries on building up a smaller 6 per cent share in Reliance Petroleum, which was advised by J Sagar Asssociates (JSA) the first time around.

Desai & Diwanji was involved in the next largest deal for Quippo Telecom Infrastructure's 49 per cent stake in Wireless-TT Info-Services for $1.3bn, which was advised by AZB.

Many firms benefited from Tech Mahindra's $578m purchase of Satyam (as it was then called): Jones Day and P&A Law Offices jointly advised Tech Mahindra; Satyam was advised by Amarchand and Latham & Watkins; and Desai & Diwanji and Talwar Thakore acted for each of the target's financial advisers.

The UK magic circle firms were notable by their absence in the first half 2009 rankings – only Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer came in at seventh place by volume with 4 transactions and in 14th place by value, having bounced up from respective 30th and 54th positions in 2008.

Platinum & Partners was also a new entrant at 10th place, advising on two transactions with a total value of $130m.

The $23bn Bharti Airtel – MTN transaction was not included in these rankings.

Allen & Overy and Linklaters did not appear in the top 15 at all in this half year, whereas in 2008 they were in prominent positions (10th and 7th respectively by volume and 12th and 6th respectively by value).

However, both of the UK firms' respective best friends have newly entered the top 15 volume and value tables: Trilegal with six smaller deals amounting to $192m and Talwar Thakore & Associates with a small role on the $578m Satyam sale.

Several large US firms which featured last year but failed to make it to this half-year's list, include Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom and White & Case.

Rankings by volume

Y/E 2008 H1 2009 Firm Value ($m) Deal Count
1 1 Desai & Diwanji 2,452 10
3 2 Khaitan & Co 2,421 7
2 3 AZB & Partners 1,763 7
4 4 Amarchand & Mangaldas 2,785 6
28 5 Trilegal 192 6
5 6 J Sagar Associates 728 4
30 7 Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer 231 4
121 8 Davis Polk & Wardwell 388 2
8 9 Luthra & Luthra 364 2
- 10 Platinum Partners 130 2
6 11 DSK Legal 31 2
- 12 Indus G&D Law 7 2
57 13= Baker Botts 1,870 1
12 13= Shearman & Sterling 1,870 1
20 15= Jones Day 578 1
78 15= Latham & Watkins 578 1
56 15= P&A Law Offices 578 1
29 15= Talwar, Thakore and Associates 578 1
source: mergermarket

Rankings by value

Y/E 2008 H1 2009 Firm Value ($m) Deal Count
10 1 Amarchand & Mangaldas 2,785 6
2 2 Desai & Diwanji 2,452 10
4 3 Khaitan & Co 2,421 7
17 4= Baker Botts 1,870 1
3 4= Shearman & Sterling 1,870 1
1 6 AZB & Partners 1,763 7
14 7 J Sagar Associates 728 4
5 8= Jones Day 578 1
51 8= Latham & Watkins 578 1
7 8= P&A Law Offices 578 1
53 8= Talwar, Thakore and Associates 578 1
115 12 Davis Polk & Wardwell 388 2
31 13 Luthra & Luthra Law Offices 364 2
54 14 Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer 231 4
39 15 Trilegal 192 6
source: mergermarket
Mergermarket included announced transactions over $5m in value from 1 January to 30 June 2009. Deals with undisclosed values were included if the target's turnover exceeded $10m. Deals were a stake of less than 30 per cent is acquired were only included if the value exceeded $100m.

If your firm was instructed on any deals in the past six months that you think were not included in mergermarket's league table, please email Legally India at

Please also let us know if your firm is acting on any M&A deals going forward with a short email to

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