King & Wood Mallesons is advising German auto giant Daimler AG on its $820 million acquisition of a 12 percent stake in Chinese state-owned carmaker BAIC Motor Corp. Ltd., its longtime joint venture partner.
Stuttgart-based Daimler said in a Feb. 1 statement that the deal, if approved by regulators, would be the first in which a Western car company has taken a stake in a Chinese one. The deal is expected to close towards the end of this year or early next, ahead of a planned initial public offering by BAIC on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.
Beijing partner Xu Ping is leading a King & Wood Mallesons team on the deal that also includes Beijing partner Liu Cheng and Hong Kong partner Candy Chan.
Clifford Chance Beijing partner Tim Wang is representing BAIC, with Hylands Law Firm acting as Chinese counsel.
BAIC, the fourth-largest Chinese car manufacturer, was the first to enter into a joint venture with a foreign manufacturer when it teamed with American Motors Corp. in 1984 to locally produce Jeep Cherokee sport utility vehicles. Chrysler Corp. took over AMC in 1987 and was in turn taken over itself by Daimler in 1998. The German company sold Chrysler in 2007 but held on to the JV, which produces licensed versions of the Mercedes-Benz E- and C-Class sedans. BAIC also has a JV with Korea’s Hyundai Motor Co.
Joint ventures producing foreign makes under strict licenses dominate the Chinese passenger car market. A May 2011 feature in Corporate Counsel, an Asian Lawyer affiliate, profiled BAIC legal director Sun Yanchen and his efforts to acquire or license technology the Chinese company could use to produce a competitive care under its own brand.
Daimler chairman Dieter Zetsche said the deal would include greater technical and sales cooperation between the companies. "Our investment is a strong sign of the increased level of trust and cooperation between our two companies," he said, "and clearly emphasizes the long-term commitment to a joint successful future of our two companies."
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