Freshfields beats Shearman to advise Daimler on three-way car deal

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer has landed a lead roll ahead of go-to adviser Shearman & Sterling on Daimler’s tie-up with Renault and Nissan.

Sullivan & Cromwell and Japanese firm Nishimura also won roles on the three-way partnership between the car manufacturers.

The cross-shareholding agreement will see Renault and Nissan, which already have a similar agreement in place between them, jointly acquire a 3.1 per cent interest in Daimler. The German manufacturer will in turn acquire a similar stake in the capital of each of Renault and Nissan.

Daimler’s market capitalisation is equivalent to that of the Japanese and French manufacturers combined, with the bilateral investments each valued at €1.25bn (£1.1bn).

The six-partner Freshfields team acting for Daimler was led by Frankfurt corporate partner Christoph Gleske and also featured  corporate partners Christian Decher and Andreas König (Frankfurt), Takeshi Nakao and Edward Cole (Tokyo), and Farbice Cohen (Paris).

Paris-based corporate partner Gauthier Blanluet led the Sullivan & Cromwell team acting for Renault, while Nissan turned to Nishimura for advice.

Gleske led the Freshfields team that advised Daimler on last year’s $2.7bn (£1.8bn) investment by Abu Dhabi’s Aabar Investments. Shearman corporate partner Georg Thoma, longstanding counsel to Daimler in Germany, acted for Aabar on the deal, clearing the way for Freshfields (30 March 2009).

Gleske said: “When we started out on that deal the relationship was new and we were relatively surprised [to get the mandate] but Shearman was representing Aabar.

“Our relationship with Daimler has improved since then, and this deal has a lot of features similar to that one, so we’re pleased that they’ve used us again.”

The deal will allow the three companies to jointly develop and produce two and four-seater cars as well as fuel-efficient diesel vehicles. They will also cooperate on the production of light commercial vehicles, with Daimler planning to use Renault production plants as it expands its portfolio.