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November 30, 2010 6:03 PM

Miller Canfield, Honigman, and Jones Day Advise on GM Unit Sale

Posted by Brian Baxter

WangArbuckleWalawender

UPDATE: 12/1/10 11:25 a.m. The sixth and seventh paragraphs of this story have been added to reflect Honigman Miller's involvement on the deal for GM.

General Motors has completed the sale of its Nexteer Automotive unit to China's Pacific Century Motors, an affiliate of Beijing's municipal government. While the terms of the deal have not been disclosed, various reports put the value of the transaction at about $450 million.

The New York Times reports that the deal effectively makes Beijing the largest private employer in Saginaw, Mich., where Nexteer, a power-steering components business, is based. (The Wall Street Journal has more on the 104-year-old GM unit and its transition to Chinese control; the deal is China's largest investment so far in the global auto parts industry.)

Miller, Canfield, Paddock, and Stone advised Pacific Century on the acquisition. Shusheng Wang, a codirector of the firm's global business practice and a member of its China practice, counseled the Beijing-based company along with corporate head Richard Walawender and corporate partner Brad Arbuckle. (Wang, Arbuckle, and Walawender are pictured above at Miller Canfield's Detroit headquarters.)

Wang, a former in-house lawyer at GM who was born in China, joined Miller Canfield earlier this year from Butzel Long. The firm hoped that Wang's arrival would enhance its ability to serve Chinese auto companies seeking business in North American markets.

This year Miller Canfield's international and emerging markets practice has represented Mexico's Metalsa Automotive on its $140 million acquisition of Dana Holding's structural products business. Three years ago the firm advised Norway's Kongsberg Automotive on its $560 million purchase of an auto unit of U.S. industrial group Teleflex.

Frank Gorman, a corporate and restructuring partner at Honigman Miller Schwartz and Cohn, led a team from the firm including finance cochair Norman Beitner and associate Adam Keith advising GM on the Nexteer sale. GM has been a longtime client of the Detroit-based firm, which advised the automaker during its government-backed bankruptcy last year.

Honigman started its own international auto team with Faegre & Benson a year ago and advised GM on the since-scuttled sale of its Hummer unit to a Chinese company.

Jones Day also advised GM, according to a press release. The firm, which did not immediately provide a list of lawyers working on the transaction, has represented GM in the past on dealership arbitrations and products liability litigation. (Jones Day was also one of eight firms advising on the future of the U.S. auto industry when it represented Auburn Hills, Mich.-based GM rival Chrysler in its bankruptcy sale to Fiat last year.)

An interesting sidenote: Jingzhou Tao, a Jones Day corporate partner based in Beijing, recently authored a book on Chinese M&A. Tao joined the firm in November 2007 from DLA Piper, where he worked since October 2005 after leaving his post as managing partner of the China practice at now-defunct Coudert Brothers.

Gil Kaminski, an in-house attorney with GM in Detroit, handled internal legal matters on the Nexteer sale.

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