Sullivan & CromwellFreshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, and Clifford Chance have the lead roles in China United Network Communications Group Co. (China Unicom)’s $1.4 billion buyback of shares from Spanish telecommunications giant Telefónica SA.
Between 2009 and 2011, Telefónica acquired a 9.7 percent stake in state-owned China Unicom, one of China’s largest mobile phone companies. The Spanish company has now agreed to sell back roughly half, or 4.6 percent, of its stake in the company, subject to regulatory approvals. According to Bloomberg, Telefónica is acting to slash a roughly $72 billion net debt burden built up over a decade-long acquisition spree.
Hong Kong-listed China Unicom also owns a 1.4 percent stake in Telefónica pursuant to a deal between the two companies.
Sullivan & Cromwell partner Chun Wei is advising China Unicom on U.S. disclosure requirements. Freshfields is advising the company on Hong Kong law with a team led by Teresa Ko and Grace Huang. Both firms also previously advised China Unicom when the two companies first began investing in each other.

Telefónica is being advised by Clifford Chance Hong Kong partner Cherry Chan.