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Bajaj Finance GC Sapan Gupta joins Shardul Amarchand in banking challenge to CAM

Sapan Gupta: Up for new challenge
Sapan Gupta: Up for new challenge

Bajaj Finance general counsel (GC) Sapan Gupta will join Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas in December to spearhead a national banking practice from Mumbai.

Gupta would be building the banking and finance team in Mumbai and Delhi as the practice’s national head, including existing Shardul Amarchand Delhi banking partner Shilpa Mankar Ahluwalia.

Gupta commented that the banking industry faced challenging times ahead with liberalisation of the market: “With the entry of new banks and payment banks into the market, there’s an opportunity to set up a dedicated banking and finance practice.”

“I don’t see many lawyers, except a few at CAM (Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas), focusing on the banking and finance practice,” he said. “That really gives an opportunity for someone like me (having worked at foreign banks like Standard Chartered and domestic banks) to build a team other side of the table.”

Cyril Amarchand’s banking and finance practice includes managing partner Cyril Shroff, L Viswanathan, Leena Chacko and SH Bhojani.

As reported by Legally India in an interview with Gupta in September, Gupta had ramped up the size of Bajaj Finance’s legal team in his 12 months there and predicted that law firms would be instructed less frequently as the size of the in-house team grew.

He agreed that running profitable banking and finance practices in-house was a challenge. “Either (other) firms are running a very high end practice in banking and finance, or very low end.”

“If you are able to combine a high- and mid-level banking and finance practice, then an opportunity can be created, without compromising the quality,” he predicted, with high-end practices like acquisition finance and debt restructuring, as well as “a little bit of traditional banking stock, standardisation, working with newer banks setting up the legal teams, so costs can be kept in check and quality can be assured”.

“There is a model that can work out which none of the firms have done so far,” he said.

Before joining Bajaj Finance in 2014, he was at Standard Chartered for six years, ending up as legal head of the transactional banking, corporate finance and capital markets division.

He had joined Standard Chartered in 2008 from law firm Sidley Austin in New York for two years after roughly two years each in the legal departments of HSBC India and ICICI Bank, and a year at Tata Housing and Development.

Since Gupta had never worked in private practice in India, he conceded that joining SAM would be a adjustment, especially in respect of “going and doing business development”.

“But I think it’s the right age for me. I probably have that skill so I can go and ask other in-housers for work.”

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