Stephenson Harwood, Freshfields and DLA Piper advise HNA Group acquisition

Stephenson Harwood, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and DLA Piper have won roles to advise on the sale of GE Capital’s TIP Trailer Services to China’s HNA Group for an undisclosed fee.

The purchase by HNA Group, one of China’s largest conglomerates based in Haikou and Beijing, gives it access to a European market leader of transport equipment leasing with 45,000 units and 48 branches in 16 European countries.

Stephenson Harwood advised HNA Group on the deal, which took a year to pull off, completing on 23 October 2013.

“I would say it was a very complicated deal due to the amount of jurisdictions involved with 16 jurisdictions in Europe plus London. With trailers going all over Europe, a complex security package is required,” said Stephenson Harwood partner Ben Mercer, who led the corporate team. 

“We’ve built a relationship with HNA over many years and worked on a number of transactions but this is the biggest so far, at the forefront of Chinese companies looking to invest in Europe. Asia is an important part of our business with 25 to 30 per cent of our headcount being in the region,” added Mercer.

Although the value of the deal was not disclosed, it is a significant transaction with TIP Trailer Services posting revenues of €303m at the end of 2012.

The team from Stephenson Harwood included Mercer, finance partners David Lacey and Julie Clegg, tax partner Hugo Jenney, finance associate Danae Hosek-Ugolini and corporate associate Tom Finden.

Freshfields advised Credit Suisse and Rabobank, led by finance partner Sean Lacey, while DLA Piper corporate partner Jonathan Lisle advised the sellers, GE Capital.