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Advani & Co breaks up with Pune merger partner Nehru but eyes merger with new Pune firm

Advani Nehru & Co, the 15-month-old Pune law firm formed by Advani & Co and Pune-based Nehru & Co, was dissolved on 15 December due to financial unviability. Advani & Co is in the process of finalising a merger with another firm in Pune while Nehru & Co has decided not to pursue any merger for the time being.

The merged firm, which was operating separately from Nehru & Co and Advani & Co, had three partners in its deed – Advani managing partner Hiroo Advani, Nehru founding partner Ranjan Nehru and Nehru senior partner Amol Nehru. Nehru & Co has one other senior partner MP Patil whereas Advani & Co has several other partners all of whom were not part of Advani Nehru & Co.

Ranjan Nehru told Legally India that the merged entity was formed to take care only of new corporate mandates acquired under its name, and none of the old matters and transactions of either Advani & Co or Nehru & Co.

Advani told Legally India that the split happened because the combination of the two firms on deals was not working and that this did not affect Advani’s expansion plans in Pune. He had told the ET last year that the merger was aimed at tapping the Pune market with Advani's resources which were typically suited to big corporate clients and Nehru's boutique specialisation.

Great expectations

Nehru said that his firm had entered into the merger on a one-year trial basis expecting “strategic advantage” in terms of corporate work reinforcement from Advani, which did not end up materialising.

“The idea was to have reinforcements for corporate work. It did not even out. Their entire corporate office is located in Mumbai. They had personal difficulties in putting people [from the Mumbai team in Pune]. We didn’t get the support we were looking for. We needed support on an ongoing basis. We were [bringing] all the clients and effectively the entire load of things was on us. This was not agreed. There has to be a symbiotic relationship” commented Nehru adding that the two firms parted on amicable terms deciding to stick to their own strengths – arbitration for Advani and corporate work for Nehru.

He said that there were 18 lawyers including him and Amol Nehru, from Nehru & Co, working on transactions under the merged entity whereas there were only around six disputes lawyers from Advani & Co.

The year abroad

Nehru commented that the firm had realised it was better off independent than merging with another law firm.

“We plan to be for the time being. We have our own name and a good standing right now, we are very busy with our work and realised we are quite okay on our own. We were hoping that there was going to be a strategic value but our time has to be very sensibly rationalised and we can’t be dissipating our energies on everything. Right now our corporate [accounts are] very diverse with all kinds of sectors including the government of India’s Ministry of Environment and Forests,” he noted.

He said that currently 60 per cent of his firm's mandates are in corporate law while the remaining 40 per cent are disputes.

Advani commented that his firm plans to expand its Pune team once the new merger is finalised within three weeks, but declined to confirm the name of the new firm with which merger is on the cards.

Advani’s team in Pune currently has three lawyers including Pune head and senior associate Amol Jadav. It has moved out of Nehru’s office space to a temporary space on Dhole Patil Road post the split. 

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