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Chinese SOE eschews large globals on M&A deal

Author:  Source:Lawyers Weekly

China’s largest nuclear energy provider has chosen a small local firm with international connections as its Australian counsel on a US$190 million M&A deal.

Firms: The Beijing arm of Dacheng Law Offices acted as the lead counsel for the China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC); Chambers & Company were also involved (Australian counsel for the CNNC); and Herbert Smith Freehills sat on the other side of the table (Paladin Energy Ltd)

Deal: Sale of 25 per cent joint venture equity stake in Paladin Energy’s flagship Langer Heinrich uranium mining operations in Namibia to China Uranium Corporation Ltd, a wholly owned subsidiary of CNNC

Area: Energy and Resources

Value: US$190 million

Key players: Chambers & Company is a commercial law firm with offices in Melbourne and Perth. It also has an office in Beijing, where it has an affiliation with the American global law firm Chadbourne & Parke. The firm’s three-office network has a focus on China work. The firm’s founder, Robin Chambers, is also a special counsel and Chadbourne & Parke’s chief Beijing representative.

Chambers led his firm’s team on this transaction with assistance from senior associate Pierre Lau. Senior partner Yang Guisheng (pictured) led the Dacheng team along with partners Zhang Ting, Gong Haiyan, and Zhang Zhiming, and senior lawyer, Wang Lu. Herbert Smith Freehills advised Paladin. Its lead lawyers were Perth-based partners David Gray and Paul Branston.

Deal Significance: Paladin is a Perth-based company which has listings on the Australian, Canadian and Namibian stock exchanges. Paladin CEO John Borshoff said the deal would provide his company with a significant cash injection, which will be applied to debt reduction. The CNNC has over 100 subsidiary companies that operate throughout 20 provinces in China. It has also has business relationships in Australia and over 40 other countries.