December - 2014 - Special issue > Top 25 Legal Consultants of the Year - 2014

iCounsel: Turning Roadblocks into Stepping Stones

Pankaj Kundwani
Monday, December 22, 2014
Pankaj Kundwani
Moving towards an era when India is talking business, there is no better time than now for entrepreneurs to take up new challenges, invest, invent and generate value for a large Indian populace which is all set to see a change. Moving up the ladder is what upcoming and existing entrepreneurs are striving for. However, be it any level they stand at, they must ensure that they make the right moves, legally sound and meticulous. Be it protecting the value of innovative ideas and technologies, making investments, raising funds or growing the business inorganically through mergers and takeovers, law plays a great catalyst. If used in the right manner, the value that could be unlocked for a business, its stakeholders and consumers would be immense. Unfortunately, businesses make mistakes stuck by cost factors and lack of legal awareness. Helping organizations of all sizes make their moves right and legally sound is a mulch-practice law firm – iCounsel.

Founded in 2013, this law firm is no ordinary start-up, as the brains behind the firm carry unmatched experience and wisdom in the area of law. The founder, N A Muraleedharan, is a practicing advocate at the High Court of Kerala in Kochi. Having begun his career as a law practitioner in 1968, he is a much sought after lawyer in the Food and Health Care space. Aiding him is his son Krishnan Murali, a second generation lawyer with a decade long impeccable track record, who heads the Bangalore office of iCounsel. He specializes in the areas of Mergers & Acquisitions (M&A) and Private Equity (PE) and also represents a significant breadth of domestic and multinational companies on a wide range of general corporate and commercial matters. Heading the office in New Delhi is Parul Sabharwal who as a lawyer with experience of over a decade, has cumulated immense knowledge of corporate and securities laws. She consistently advises investors on structuring transactions and has drafted countless investment and acquisition agreements.

iCounsel represents highly esteemed names like Hindustan Unilever, Reliance Industries, Taj Hotels Resorts & Palaces, Nestle, Hindustan Coca Cola Beverages, Murugappa Group, Aditya Birla Retail and C K Birla Group. Individual partners such as the likes of Krishnan have also been focusing on investments in niche segments such as retail trading, energy, technology, infrastructure and insurance. With a strong leadership in place, the firm has developed brilliance acting for foreign strategic investors in their investments in India and domestic companies in relation to their local and outbound acquisitions. iCounsel takes care of all M&A relating matters be it structuring joint ventures and collaborations, preparing the transaction documents and providing negotiation assistance to parties, or drafting, reviewing and presenting schemes of arrangement, reconstructions and De-mergers.

Making contribution to building a strong start-up ecosystem in India, iCounsel assists many start-ups and SMEs secure funds by way of Private Equity (including Private Equity in Public Enterprises (PIPEs)), Venture Capital, Seed investments or Angel Funding. iCounsel also regularly acts for a wide range of investors and funds (across varied ticket sizes). The firm conducts legal due diligence, leads negotiations, drafts or reviews the definitive documents, oversees transaction closure, liaises with government authorities including the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) and the Reserve Bank of India (RBI)."We realize that a lot of start-ups and SMEs often do not consider taking external legal advice owing to the high cost involved, and this is coupled with the fact that most of them neither have their in house legal desks. Having identified this huge void, we have designed some exciting retainer packages for our clients, pursuant to which we take care of their legal affairs on an annual basis. We strive to tackle all the issues in a time-bound manner. In comparison, our fees might be considerably less than some of the top tier law firms, but the quality of our services is no less than theirs," says Krishnan Murali, Lead, iCounsel.

Businesses often face setbacks and obstacles arising at different stages. Project financing also seems a daunting process. Having various subject matter experts on board to assist in project financing matters (right from preparing bid documents to finalizing the project finance related agreements), the firm also deals with government compliance's, organizations that float projects and lending institutions who fund these projects. It acts as a facilitator in the whole process and ensures smooth flow of work.
The plethora of services covered by the firm does not end here. It has brought together specialists in corporate finance, intellectual property, real estate and banking matters -specialists with real deal street experience so that businesses benefits from a multidisciplinary approach. iCounsel has advised many clients across sectors and industries in the areas of litigation & dispute resolution, contracts and commercial matters, intellectual property rights management, including restructuring of rights, rights issues, private placements, and advisory services to listed companies and intermediaries and so on.

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