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October 12, 2009 2:34 PM

Honigman, Shearman Help GM Unload Hummer to Chinese Company

Posted by Zach Lowe

UPDATE: Feb. 24, 4:34 p.m. The New York Times reports that Hummer will stop humming after General Motors decided to close down the brand after the collapse of a deal to sell it to a Chinese investor group.

At least the General Motors asset sell-off is netting some transactional work for Detroit law firms who have long depended on the auto industry for billable hours. 

One of those Detroit heavies, Honigman Miller Schwartz & Cohn, advised General Motors on its deal to sell the Hummer brand to a Chinese investment vehicle. The deal, signed on Friday, requires the approval of at least three different Chinese state regulators, according to Reuters.

Shearman & Sterling represented Sichuan Tengzhong Heavy Industrial Machinery, the Chinese company that will control 80 percent of the new investment vehicle that is buying Hummer for an undisclosed price. (Reuters is reporting that the price is about $150 million, far lower than the $500 million GM hoped the brand could fetch). 

Suolang Duoji, a well-known Chinese entrepreneur, will control the other 20 percent, according to The New York Times. Duoji did not have separate outside M&A counsel, according to Lee Edwards, who led the Shearman deal team. Both Duoji and Sichuan Tengzhong received counsel from the Chinese firm Jun He Law Offices on Chinese legal issues, Edwards says.

Under the terms of the deal, the investment vehicle will own all Hummer intellectual property and technology and Sichuan Tengzhong must continue operating U.S. plants that provide 3,000 manufacturing jobs through mid-2011. 

Norman Beitner, the lead Honigman partner on the deal, did not immediately return a message seeking comment. As we've reported before, Honigman has been providing counsel to GM throughout its government-brokered restructuring process. Although Weil, Gotshal & Manges took the lead role in GM's Chapter 11 case, Honigman billed GM $15 million in the year before GM's bankruptcy filing. 

Other Shearman partners on the deal included: M&A partner Paul Strecker in Beijing as well as IP partner Tina Patel, tax partner Larry Crouch, and litigation partner Steve Hibbard in California. 

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