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GAR 100 - 11th Edition

AZB & Partners

04 April 2018

The Yukos shareholders’ Indian firm of choice

People in Who’s Who Legal 1

AZB was born in 2004 from a merger between CZB & Partners in Mumbai and Ajay Bahl & Company in Delhi. Today the firm has five offices in India. It formerly enjoyed a “best friends” agreement with Clifford Chance.

The firm has moved away from Indian law firms’ traditional family-style structure and has been praised for its clear partnership track.

AZB’s reputation owes much to the personality and profile of founding partner Zia Mody in Mumbai. She spent three years as vice president of the LCIA and has acted in numerous cases under that institution’s rules, as well as those of the ICC, SCC, LMAA, SIAC and UNCITRAL.

Another strong name is Vijayendra Pratap Singh, partner and head of litigation in Delhi, who has spearheaded arbitrations related to option contracts, shareholder disputes and intellectual property issues.

Who uses it?

Recent clients include Tata Group; the owners of the Indian Premier League franchise cricket team Kochi Tuskers; Bank of New York Mellon; India’s largest telecoms company, Bharti Airtel; Axis Bank; HSBC; and private healthcare provider Parkway Pantai Group.

Enercon India, HSBC and General Atlantic Singapore have all retained AZB recently. Past clients include Vedanta Resources, KPMG, Philip Morris, Dhariwal Industries, Bank of New York Mellon, Lehman Brothers and US cable television network ESPN. It has also acted for Indian property developer Kabul Chawla and his company, BPTP.

Track record

In one of its highest-profile cases, the firm defended Tata Sons in an LCIA claim brought by Japan’s largest mobile operator, NTT Docomo, over a short-lived internet services venture. The arbitration ended in 2016 with a US$1.17 billion award against Tata. The award was paid in the following year, after Delhi litigation that had seen the intervention of the Reserve Bank of India in a bid to thwart payment.

In 2015, AZB defended Swiss luxury goods group Richemont in litigation filed by an Indian distribution partner, persuading the Indian Supreme Court to refer the claims to arbitration. It also convinced the court to quash parallel criminal proceedings launched against the client.

Recent events

It’s a measure of AZB’s standing in India that the former majority shareholders of Yukos Oil Company used the firm for Delhi High Court proceedings to enforce their US$50 billion Energy Charter Treaty award against Russia. However, that action has been discontinued pending the shareholders’ effort to have the award reinstated in the courts of The Hague.

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