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AZB scoops ELP Delhi’s Samir Gandhi to get first hardcore competition partner

Samir Gandhi: Likes trade, competition, mergers
Samir Gandhi: Likes trade, competition, mergers
Exclusive: Economic Laws Practice (ELP) competition and trade law partner Samir Gandhi is joining AZB & Partners in Delhi as the first partner at the firm to focus on competition law full-time.

AZB’s competition law practice had been handled primarily by a number of core transactional M&A partners, such as Shuva Mandal in Mumbai, and Percy Bilimoria and Vinati Kastia in Delhi.

Those partners also had “significant corporate responsibilities”, said AZB Delhi managing partner Ajay Bahl, adding: “We’re very delighted that Samir is joining with all the significant experience he brings with him and we think it will very, very strongly supplement our existing team and add value to it.”

“We’re bringing in somebody who has specialised focus, someone who can spend more time on this, can give it greater impetus and greater focus.”

At ELP Gandhi had acted in a number of early Competition Commission of India (CCI) cases, such as the Direct to Home (DTH) broadcasting case, and the Bollywood producers cartel case.

The 1999 NLSIU Bangalore graduate began his career at Amarchand Mangaldas, followed by a 2002 LLM at the London School of Economics (LSE), almost one year at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in Geneva until 2004, and a research fellowship at Columbia University school of law in New York. In 2005 he returned to India to join ELP, focusing on international trade and anti-dumping, and after the Indian Competition Act starting coming into force in 2009, also specialising in competition law.

Gandhi said that the main reason he chose to move to AZB was because he wanted to work on more merger control instructions. “We built a phenomenal behavioural-side practice [at ELP covering anti-trust and CCI investigations] and that’s immensely intellectually satisfying and rewarding. But here are ultimately two other legs to competition law practice.”

While ELP did have strength in the second leg, competition compliance work for companies, Gandhi said that in the merger control area AZB had greater workflow.

“At least in the early days [of competition law in a country], when making merger filings people will ask you if you are transaction counsel,” he explained. “It came down to ELP not having that depth [in M&A] because only very high value M&As are getting notified [to the CCI for merger clearance].”

“There wasn’t enough volume of merger control work that was referred to me within ELP. AZB, because they had this incredibly high profile M&A practice, it made for an ideal fit. Their clients were looking for competition law advice, but equally their clients would also require some competition law advice including merger clearance.”

Bahl told Legally India that the majority of AZB’s competition work to date involved merger control clearances, although the firm was also acting in four large investigations at the moment.

Commenting on his time at ELP, Gandhi said: “I have the highest regard for my former partners and colleagues at ELP, who supported the growth of this practice from its earliest days and wish them the very best.”

ELP was unavailable for comment.

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