The General Motors Headquarters, located in Detroit, Michigan. ()
No driver? No problem.
Detroit-based automotive giant General Motors Co. announced Friday that it had agreed to acquire San Francisco-based autonomous vehicle technology startup Cruise Automation Inc. in order to further its work in the self-driving car space. While financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, Fortune reported that the purchase price was over $1 billion.
Cruise Automation, whose head of legal and regulatory is former Latham & Watkins associate Matthew Gipple, tapped Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe to advise on its sale to GM. Orrick M&A partner Mark Seneca and technologies companies group partners John Bautista and C. Augie Rakow are leading a Silicon Valley-based team from the firm representing Cruise Automation, which has scooped up $18.8 million in equity funding from 30 investors.
Automated cars bring with them their own host of legal and regulatory issues, as recently noted by sibling publication The Recorder, but GM president Dan Ammann said in a company release that “fully autonomous vehicles can bring our customers enormous benefits in terms of greater convenience, lower cost and improved safety for their daily mobility needs.”
Scott Joachim, chair of the private equity group at Fenwick & West, is leading a team of lawyers from the Mountain View, California-based firm advising GM on its acquisition of Cruise Automation. The startup isn’t the only technology company that GM has zeroed in on lately.
Back in January, TechCrunch reported that automakers have become increasingly keen on ramping up their efforts in the tech sector, with GM making a $500 million investment in ride-sharing startup Lyft Inc. and picking up assets from now-defunct Sidecar. (GM’s general counsel is Craig Glidden, who took over last year as the company’s in-house legal chief.)
As for Fenwick, the GM deal is the latest in a string of deals for the firm in recent weeks. In late February, the firm advised struggling personal camera maker GoPro Inc. on its $105 million acquisition of a pair of video editing startups. Fenwick also advised San Jose-based Cisco Systems Inc. earlier this month on its $320 million purchase of Israeli chip designer Leaba Semiconductor and $260 million buy of cloud computing startup CliQr.
Social media giant Facebook Inc., which tapped Fenwick to handle its $5 billion initial public offering in 2012, turned to the firm this week for counsel on its acquisition of Masquerade Technologies Inc., creator of the popular face-swapping app MSQRD. Fenwick also advised life sciences company Agilent Technologies Inc. on its $80 million investment for a 48 percent stake in Houston-based biotechnology company Lasergen Inc., as well as gaming startup Radiant Entertainment on its sale to Riot Games and gamer Nexon Co. Ltd. on its purchase of Big Huge Games Inc. The terms of those deals were undisclosed.
In other M&A news …
Nasdaq/International Securities Exchange
Continuing its acquisition spree, sibling publication Legal Week recently reported on Nasdaq’s bid to buy the International Securities Exchange—which operates electronic options exchanges ISE, ISE Gemini and ISE Mercury—from the Deutsche Börse Group. The sale of ISE, announced Wednesday, is expected to close in the second half of 2016. The New York Times noted that Nasdaq was busy on the transactional front in 2015, picking up SecondMarket and Marketwired in separate deals.
Legal Advisers: Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz and Jones Day for Nasdaq; Allen & Overy for Deutsche Boerse.
Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc./Imperial Oil Ltd.
Calgary-based Imperial Oil—majority-owned by oil giant Exxon Mobil Corp.—has agreed to sell the nearly 500 remaining Esso gas stations it owns in Canada to five fuel distributors for $2.8 billion. The deal, announced Tuesday, will see Alimentation Couche-Tard pay $1.68 billion for 279 of those stations. As reported earlier this month, amid falling oil prices, Exxon Mobil is keeping an eye out for potential acquisitions.
Legal Advisers: Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg for Alimentation Couche-Tard; Blake, Cassells & Graydon for Imperial.
Shanghai JinJiang International Hotels Development Co. Ltd./Actis
Actis is getting out of Chinese budget hotel chain Plateno Hotel Group. The London-based private equity firm has agreed to sell its minority stake in Plateno to JinJiang Hotels for $1.53 billion, giving the acquirer an 81 percent stake in the chain, as noted by Legal Week. Announced Feb. 29, JinJiang Hotels’ deal for Plateno—formerly known as 7 Days Inn Group prior to its delisting in 2013—will see the acquirer emerge among the top five hotel operators in the world.
Legal Advisers: DLA Piper for JinJiang Hotels; Clifford Change for Actis.