China’s Geely installs chief counsel three years after Volvo deal

Geely Holding Group, which acquired Swedish automaker Volvo in 2010, has appointed veteran in-house lawyer Kenneth Tung as chief legal counsel to oversee all international legal affairs.

Zhejiang-based Geely is one of a very few Chinese car makers that have successfully completed a major acquisition abroad. Following its $1.8bn (£1.21bn) acquisition of Volvo from Ford in 2010, when it was advised by Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer (5 April 2010), Geely has picked up the pace of its global expansion.

As the company has set a target of two-million global sales by 2015, it has appointed Tung as its new chief legal counsel to oversee all legal matters arising from its international businesses and developments.

Tung is a long-serving in-house lawyer in China who started his legal career with legacy Coudert Brothers. In 1997, he joined Eastman Kodak Company as its Greater China legal affairs director, becoming one of the first international lawyers to take up in-house counsel role in China. He later held senior in-house leadership roles in Honeywell International, The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company and most recently PepsiCo, all based in Shanghai.

Tung has moved to Hangzhou, the capital city of Zhejiang province, for the new role. He told The Lawyer his priority initially is to identify and locate the legal risks of the group and then focus on finding the right solutions and resources to best manage these risks.

“Today’s legal industry is going through significant changes, largely driven by clients’ need to have cost-effective and value-added legal services. I look forward to being a part of the evolution and modernisation of the legal services sector on my new platform,” said Tung.

It is understood that Geely has an established, sizable legal department, which predominantly handles domestic legal issues. The in-house function is headed by the group’s vice-president and legal director Su Xiaoxi, who joined Geely in 2011 from Haier, a Chinese multinational consumer electronics and home appliances company.