Raghubir Menon is an M&A and PE partner at the firm and primarily works on matters pertaining to M&A and private equity. He is currently the regional practice head for M&A and PE (Mumbai region) for the firm. Prior to joining Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas, he worked at White & Case LLP, in London and Singapore for five years. He has an LLB from the National Law School of India University, Bangalore, and enrolled at the Bar Council of Delhi in 2004. He is a qualified solicitor (England and Wales).
Describe your career to date.
I started my career with the erstwhile Amarchand & Mangaldas & Suresh A Shroff straight from law school in 2001. Then in 2006, I moved to London and joined White & Case, which I was with for a total of five years, first in London and thereafter in Singapore. I came back to India in 2011, and have been with Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas and its precursor firm since then. Currently, I am the regional head of M&A and PE (Mumbai region).
What attracted you to the fields of M&A and corporate governance?
Back in 2001, corporate law was just burgeoning. I started my career with a corporate partner in India at the erstwhile Amarchand in their Delhi offices and worked with him through my formative stint of five years in Amarchand. In my early years, I had a lot of exposure to corporate advisory, acquisitions and public M&A, albeit in an Indian context. This grounding, followed by five years of experience with White & Case – undertaking M&A transactions, LBOs and complex cross-border structured acquisitions across EMEA, South Asia and South East Asia, and exposure to various norms, degrees and international standards in relation to governance – ingrained and deepened my knowledge understanding and interest of these areas.
What was the greatest challenge you faced in establishing yourself in India after working abroad?
I came back into this market having completed more than 10 years in the profession. By such time, most peers in the profession had already developed and deepened relationships with existing clients whom they had been servicing for several years. Having been outside India for a number of years, it was imperative to begin building relationships, almost from scratch, while at the same time proving my technical skills, showcasing the ability to deliver and, from such position, to finally be viewed, building a team as a trusted adviser.
On what types of matters do clients come to you most frequently at present?
Currently, there is a broad mix of strategic M&A transactions and PE investments, coupled with a fair amount of activity in the public M&A space. We also have a reputation for being able to execute complex PE control deals seamlessly and have undertaken multiple transactions over the past given years.
How has corporate governance in India changed over the past five years?
Governance in India has undergone a sea change, starting from the implementation of the 2013 Companies Act. Governance is and will remain a hot topic, while companies and boards continue to raise standards and ensure that appropriate checks and balances are implemented. A recent shake-up has been the case of IL&FS, with the government, the securities regulator and industry participants refocusing on governance with a new lens.
To what extent is the upcoming election affecting M&A activity in the country?
Interestingly, the upcoming election has not, until now, affected M&A activity in the market. We had a stellar year for Indian M&A in 2018, and we are seeing the carry-on effects in the first quarter of the year. However, we are starting to experience the first seeds of the market slowing down in the immediate precursor to the elections, which is always inevitable. Interestingly, prior to the 2014 elections, the bottom had fallen out of the M&A market close to 12 months prior to the elections, which is not currently the case. I expect a two-to-three month period where strategics and investors wait and watch and conserve capital, prior to the next phase of activity.
How does your practice stand out from others in the market?
I believe that one of the key differentiating factors is that it encompasses all aspects, from governance to private investment, private equity and public M&A. Over the years, I have advised numerous corporates, sovereign wealth funds and private equity funds across the full range of their operations and activities. My practice has encompassed MNCs, corporates, investment and commercial banks, private equity funds, sovereign wealth funds, multilateral agencies and strategic corporate clients on a variety of domestic and cross-border transactions. In addition, the length and breadth of the clientele is broadly a key differentiating factor.
What is your proudest achievement to date?
One of the proudest achievements was probably being ranked as a band 1 practitioner for private equity by Chambers and Partners a few years back.