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Lenovo Group Ltd., a trailblazer in what some see as China’s quest to acquire top American companies, acquired an American GC in July when it hired technology veteran James Shaughnessy. Most recently GC at PeopleSoft, Inc., Shaughnessy, 51, helped that company respond to Oracle Corporation’s hostile takeover bid. Lenovo is no stranger to high-stakes dealmaking. In May it bought International Business Machines Corporation’s personal computer division. The $1.75 billion acquisition created the third-largest PC maker in the world. Shaughnessy downplays the hurdles facing a Chinese-owned company operating in the United States. But recent events suggest such companies face increased scrutiny. In July security concerns effectively killed Chinese oil company CNOOC Limited’s bid for Unocal Corporation. By comparison, Lenovo’s purchase of IBM went smoothly. Regulators sought only a few concessions. To help allay fears of sensitive American technology falling into Chinese hands, Lenovo is relocating 1,900 employees from IBM’s Raleigh campus to a more isolated facility a mile away. Because PeopleSoft and Lenovo are both global brands, says Shaughnessy, the differences between his old and new jobs are mainly due to the companies’ respective circumstances. “At PeopleSoft, I needed to deal with litigation in California and Delaware [surrounding] Oracle’s tender offer.” At Lenovo, he says, “the situation is very different � one large business spun off and merged with another company.” Shaughnessy says integrating the two legal departments tops his agenda. There are now 34 lawyers total, in Purchase, New York; Raleigh; Washington, D.C.; Beijing; and Hong Kong. He expects to hire more attorneys soon. Another challenge is mastering Hong Kong’s corporate governance laws. Although its global headquarters are in Purchase, Lenovo was incorporated in Hong Kong and is listed on its stock exchange. Shaughnessy says Hong Kong’s compliance system is sophisticated and similar to our own. When not brushing up on foreign laws, Shaughnessy has been studying Mandarin and getting used to long flights. Six weeks into his job he had made two trips to China, with several more planned this year.

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