Herbies’ Silicon Valley trip seals Atmel factory sale

Herbert Smith won work on the sale of a Tyneside factory after a trip to Silicon Valley with alliance partners Gleiss Lutz and Stibbe.

Partner Christopher Rees said the three firms’ collective technology, media and telecoms (TMT) M&A group made the trip last summer, and Herbert Smith won the role from Atmel Corporation, which is based in Silicon Valley, around the same time.

Atmel planned to sell its semiconductor production business as a going concern, but ended up selling the machinery and plant site to different buyers.

This, said Rees, meant a greater number of parties had to reach agreement, while there were also environmental issues.

“The environmental impact of such a site is significant and it has to be decommissioned in a very controlled way,” said Rees. “Louise Moore, head of our environment group, had to write an agreement for the three partners in the deal for which there was no precedent.”

Atmel’s equipment was sold to Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, advised by Simmons & Simmons, for $82m (£41.88m).

Highbridge Properties bought the land for £21m, advised by Macfarlanes, with Nabarro acting on the land transfer. The factory’s employees, who all lost their jobs, were advised by Dickinson Dees.