Equipped with varied experience across diverse sectors, Kavitha Vijay, the Senior Partner of IC Universal Legal, was instrumental in the establishment of the Chennai office in 2006 and has been leading it since 2010. The firm has built a reputation as having a highly-regarded global presence through its affiliation with Chugh LLP, a full-service law firm of certified public accountants who have their presence in various states in the US and Brazil.
Spanning an experience of 15+ years, Kavitha works primarily on mergers, acquisitions, private equity investments and joint ventures. She has also been a key player in starting the microfinance practice in the firm and her other practice areas involve infrastructure, general corporate law and advisory services.
Kavitha guides her team under the principle of ensuring that they are easily accessible to clients and provides practical business-oriented solutions within the confines of the legal framework, thereby facilitating the transaction through its life cycle in a speedy and efficient manner. We spoke with Kavitha to discuss her role, the M&A process and microfinancing.
How does your firm handle a typical merger or acquisition process?
When I and my team work on a merger or acquisition transaction, my strategy is always driven to contribute in the interest of the transaction, without compromising the interest of the client and leading the transaction to closure in a practical and effective manner. This has in most cases resulted in the firm walking away from the transaction with a new client and a new introduction.
Of all the areas you practice, which is your favourite? Why?
I have enjoyed working on joint ventures and mergers and acquisitions, primarily because the negotiations are on a more levelled playing field, as opposed to private equity, where the transactions are more one-sided in nature. The former also requires me to maintain a balanced perspective, keeping in mind the business interests of both parties and ensuring that the draft agreements cover the different futuristic scenarios.
What has been the biggest or most complex project you have worked on during your career with IC Universal Legal? Have there been any notable clients?
The Swelect – Novateur Transaction was one of the largest in South India, involving the transfer of business divisions of a listed company to the purchaser. The client was hand-held through the entire process involving negotiations with suppliers, distributors, lessors and Governmental Authorities.
During my career, I have lead the team on various transborder transactions, including:
- Represented SWELECT Energy Systems Limited (formerly known as Numeric Power Systems Limited), a Chennai based company’s acquisition by Novateur Electrical and Digital Systems Private Limited, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Legrand Group.
- Represented Bachi Group, a forerunner in the manufacture and export of leather products wherein a majority stake of the Bachi Group was acquired by leading labels in Europe, by TATA International.
- Represented Thirumeni Finance Private Limited in its raise of funds to the tune of Rs. 350 crores from multiple national and international investors.
- Represented Amelio Early Education Private Limited in its raise of funds from Babilou’s SAS, one of Europe’s childcare groups.
You played a key role in starting the microfinance practice in your firm – what did this entail? Was it challenging?
The microfinance practice required an in-depth understanding of the nature of the business, the manner of funding and the regulatory hurdles. The assistance to clients was not just with respect to capital raises, but also with respect to the other contractual and regulatory requirements.
What are the key legal and regulatory implications that need to be considered when dealing with Private Equity projects across multiple jurisdictions?
The PE business space has expanded substantially through evidence of high-risk, high-return investments going positive. Therefore, it exposes the possibility of PE investments to not only established and managed funds, but a lot of individuals willing to contribute to growth capital of start-ups and smaller businesses that promise to make a significant economic impact. This change in invest mindset is not supported by a conducive regulatory environment, and therefore while the money is available to come in, the greater challenge is securing the money in consonance with regulatory requirements and enabling an easy and effective return. This is the next stage that would require path-breaking legal reform for a propelling growth in the economy, which we as a team are greatly looking forward to.