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India and the Netherlands make sweet corporate music together

Posted by: Laurence Simons 06/07/12

Indian firms oversaw a major international deal.

India and the Netherlands have a rich history of doing business together, going way back to… hmm. There's… um. Hmm. Uh. Well somebody must have bought clogs at least once.

But that is irrelevant, forget all that. A consortium of investors led by Dutch pension service provider APG have dropped circa $141 million in Dutch money on an Indian residential project led by Godrej Properties, finally forging some Indo-Dutch ties. And, according to one of the advisors on the deal, India and the Netherlands hooking up just happened so fast.

"It was a very fast paced deal," beep-beeped a breathy advisor to Legally India. "At any given time there were around 40 people involved on it." And of those 40 people, at least some of them were lawyers: international law firm Linklaters, along with two European firms, were on hand to advise throughout the deal.

The gory details, in full: Godrej Properties were advised by Nisith Desai Associates. Sparinvest were advised by Danish firm and spellcheck botherers Bruune & Hjejle. J Sagar Associates' Rupinder Malik headed up a team on behalf of Stichting Depositary APG Strategic Real Estate Pool, and Fox Mandal, Linklaters and Loyens & Loeff acted on behalf of miscellaneous other investors. Basically, was any one of the supposed 40 people in the room not a lawyer?

How come so many people in suits were assembled in a room to shout at each other and slam flat palms on the table? Because when business links between two countries spread over two continents and involving significant chunks of change arise, you need your legal team to be on it to ensure your business goes into negotiations with its eyes open. And that's why local knowledge is such a crucial asset.

And one that could become ever-more coveted in the Indian legal sector. A recent Allen & Overy YouGov poll found that the majority of stakeholders in India's top 50 firms believed the legal market in the country should be liberalised, meaning more of those three key things: foreign investment, overseas firms and shouting. And should such moves come to fruition, it could be big news for Indian industry. "As India's corporate champions continue to expand and compete globally, they see a need for greater choice of legal services at home to ensure their success overseas," said Allen & Overy chair Jonathan Brayne.