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Trio of Indian firms clean up slim private equity pickings as deal drought eases

AZB, DSK and Trilegal have done well in Asia Pacific private equity deal rankings despite heavily depressed values and volumes this year.

AZB & Partners advised on a total of four private equity deals in the past 12 months, according to information from data provider mergermarket.

DSK Legal and Trilegal have each advised three private equity buyers in buyouts over the same period.

DSK managing partner Anand Desai said that private equity had made up almost 50 per cent of firm revenues until around a year ago, when activity suddenly dropped off.

"There were a lot of term sheets but we didn't see any deals going through," he explained, "but it seems to be starting again in the last three months."

Trilegal co-founding partner Anand Prasad said: "It's a market that's beginning to pick up. There have been deals that have been coming around but they are not very fast moving."

He said that private equity work during good times made up between around 10 and 15 per cent of Trilegal's total revenues.

The mergermarket league table placed AZB, DSK and Trilegal in the top ten law firms in the Asia Pacific region, in terms of the number of deals done.

However, although AZB garnered the runner-up spot and DSK and Trilegal came in eighth and ninth place respectively, the total deal values by the Indian firms were very low: $67m, $61m and $29m respectively.

Total private equity buyout values of other Asian law firms in the top ten are in many cases at least 10 times as high, with Chinese firms scoring particularly well.

This is reflected in India's performance in the Asia Pacific region. India saw the greatest number of buyouts making up 28 per cent of regional totals with China close behind at 21 per cent.

The overall number of deals in the region dropped from around 300 in 2008 to around 30 in the 2009 calendar year to date.

However, India only came in fourth place in terms of overall deal values, making up only 7 per cent of totals; China accounted for a whopping 51 per cent after two large recent consumer sector transactions.

Total deal values in the Asia Pacific region have plummeted from $2.3bn to $300m over the same period.

AZB buyout tally (4):
• Matrix Partners India $20m deal in FIITJEE (announced July 2009),
• Intel Capital and Silicon Valley Bank (advised by Nishith Desai Associates) on $15m investment in One97 Communications, advised by J Sagar Associates (JSA) (January 2009),
• Helion Venture Partners and Intel Capital on $7m Global Talent Track Private 53.34 per cent stake (January 2009), and
• Virtuous Retails and Xander Investments on $25m stake in Shrachi Virtuous Retail Projects, which was advised by FoxMandal Little (November 2008).

DSK tally (3):
• Lumis Partners on the purchase of a $9m controlling stake in BNKe Solutions (March 2009),
• Jointly with Davis Polk & Wardwell on Morgan Stanley Private Equity Asia on its $37m 30 per cent acquisition in Biotor Industries, which was advised by Rajani Associates (December 2008), and
• Berggruen Holdings and Cycladic Capital Management buying 80 per cent for $15m in Gemini Equipment and Rentals, which was advised by Desai & Diwanji (November 2008).

Trilegal tally (3):
• Sequoia Capital on its $17m investment in Just Dial, which was advised by Khaitan & Co (June 2009),
• Nexus India Capital on its $5m investment in mChek (February 2009), and
• Clearstone Venture Partners and Granite Hill Capital Partners on their $7m stake in Elbee Express (February 2009).

Click here to read an excerpt from mergermarket's Asia Pacific private equity report, covering a period from 13 August 2008 to 12 August 2009.

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