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With eye on liberalisation, Khaitan Delhi counsel Nishant Beniwal joins Spanish solar company Asia legal head

Keeping legal services liberalisation in mind, Khaitan counsel mixes up career
Keeping legal services liberalisation in mind, Khaitan counsel mixes up career

Khaitan & Co Delhi counsel Nishant Beniwal has joined Spanish solar energy company Fotowatio Renewable Ventures (FRV) as head of legal for India and Asia.

Beniwal, who will be the company’s first and only employee on the legal side in India and Asia, commented: “After having worked in various firms for a very long time it was interesting to look at the other end. Also since I am the only legal person for the time being, the learning won't stop.”

He added that when, suppose, in 5 to 10 years legal services in India were finally liberalised, that foreign firms coming in would prefer lawyers with varied experience instead of just law firm experience. This is because according to the professional culture in the legal profession globally, lawyers mix their firm experience with secondments to companies, even government departments and other areas, he said.

Beniwal added that the 10-year-old company globally has 15 members in its legal team and being a developer instead of an Independent Power Producer (IPP) in India, it is unlikely to expand the legal team over here. In India, FRV has one 100MW solar power project in Andhra Pradesh bought in 2016, while in Asia it had a project in Jordan which it concluded before Beniwal had joined.

“The nature of the business team will always remain agile and nimble,” he said.

FRV was acquired by 75-year-old Saudi Arabia-based global conglomerate Abdul Latif Jameel's energy business in April 2015.

Beniwal had joined Khaitan from Trilegal in April 2014 as a counsel in the energy, infrastructure and resources practice of the firm.

Khaitan partner Rabindra Jhunjhunwala commented: “Would like to wish him well with his new endeavours.”

Beniwal is a NUJS Kolkata 2005 alumnus, has worked at Trilegal, JSA, and Luthra & Luthra Delhi, before Khaitan, advising regulators, developers and investors on investing in, developing and financing infrastructure projects in India, and on regulatory issues in power trading, coal-linkages and mining arrangements, statutory permits and consents, land acquisition, environment and labour welfare legislations.

He said that his experience was focused on the power sector and specifically, in the last four to five years, on renewable energy as the only growing infrastructure space, so the company was a good fit for him.

“At least with respect to the subject matter I will not be learning the ropes. Coming from a law firm, which has entirely different procedures [as compared to the in house legal department of a company], out of the two buckets - corporate structures, and the law - at least the law bucket I will be strong in. I would be a little reluctant to change fields at this level.”

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