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Baker & McKenzie Experience in Representing Automotive Clients

Baker & McKenzie's global reach and the depth of its resources in the major countries of the Americas, Asia Pacific, Europe and the Middle East have made Baker & McKenzie a primary provider of legal services to automotive clients throughout the world for more than 40 years.

Baker & McKenzie lawyers and economists have a breath of experience in representing automotive clients that is unmatched by any other law firm.

Today Baker & McKenzie advises or represents the major companies in every sector of the automotive industry, and in every facet of this fast changing industry.

Continue reading below for details on special services we provide to automotive companies and names and contact links to our specialists in those fields in our offices around the world. To request more information about Baker & McKenzie, you may also click here.

Baker & McKenzie's Resources for Automotive Clients

Americas
(more than 1,200 lawyers and economists in 26 offices in 8 countries)
Europe/Middle East
(more than 1,600 lawyers and economists in 29 offices in 20 countries)
Asia Pacific
(more than 1,100 lawyers and economists in 14 offices in 10 countries)

Offices Worldwide

For lists of Baker & McKenzie offices in the Americas, in Europe/Middle East, or in Asia Pacific, please click here.

Baker & McKenzie's Services to Automotive Clients

To contact automotive specialists in the Americas, in Europe/Middle East, or in Asia Pacific for the services that you need,  please click on the services below.

CORPORATE TRANSACTIONS (M&A, Divestitures, Joint Ventures)

INSOLVENCY AND DISTRESSED ASSETS
DISTRIBUTION AND CUSTOMER/SUPPLIER RELATIONS
CUSTOMS AND TRADE REGULATION
TAX AND TRANSFER PRICING
LABOR AND EMPLOYEE RELATIONS
MOVING PRODUCTION TO LOW-COST JURISDICTIONS
SUPPLY CHAIN
OUTSOURCING
INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY PROTECTION AND LICENSING
PRODUCT LIABILITY AND LITIGATION
ENVIRONMENT AND CLIMATE CHANGE
COMPETITION LAW
IMMIGRATION
More information about Baker & McKenzie



CORPORATE TRANSACTIONS
(M&A, Divestitures, Joint Ventures)

Corporate transactions in the automotive industry typically involve multiple issues and multiple jurisdictions, as companies shed unprofitable operations, acquire assets or operations to attain economies of scale or global reach, or embark on joint ventures designed to share investments and spread risks in an uncertain marketplace. At Baker & McKenzie, our Mergers & Acquisitions team includes more than 800 lawyers worldwide, offering global coordination, unrivaled local expertise in all aspects of public or private transactions, and experience in ensuring that our automotive clients realize the projected value in the mergers, acquisitions, divestitures, joint ventures and strategic alliances that they undertake. Our automotive clients quickly learn that cross-border deal work is a specialized business line of Baker & McKenzie. As a result of our experience with cross-border transactions, we bring an instinctively global perspective to these kinds of deals which is innately built into the fabric of our culture. We routinely navigate the complex legal issues of an international deal across practices and borders with ease and efficiency, providing the right team and expertise regardless of location.

Our corporate, tax and regulatory specialists work together to ensure that e very transaction benefits from appropriate structuring and the careful risk analysis and forward planning required to deliver value and convince the market that the deal makes sense. In the automotive industry in particular, this requires understanding of the antitrust, regulatory and governance issues and alignment of the finance, tax, employment and intellectual property requirements with the strategic objectives of the deal. The ability of our lawyers to work together seamlessly, coordinate complex global transactions successfully, address regulatory requirements, prepare local documentation, advise on tax matters, assist in due diligence investigations, and deliver the required legal opinions covering multiple jurisdictions is an aspect of our practice that no other law firm can match.

For example, we recently represented a major European automotive parts manufacturer in a $150 million acquisition of assets in thirteen different countries from a US selling parent that was in Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

Regional contacts for automotive clients on corporate transactions:

United States and Canada
- to contact Ed West, please click here
Latin America - to contact Carlos Angulo, please click here
Europe/Middle East - to contact Florian Kaestle, please click here
Asia Pacific - to contact Ashly Poke, please click here


INSOLVENCY AND DISTRESSED ASSETS

Multiple bankruptcy filings by major automotive parts suppliers in recent years has illustrated the advantage of receiving and applying quality insolvency expertise in this distressed industry. More can be expected during the current industry and general economic downturn, and not even the OEMs may be immune. Baker & McKenzie lawyers have advised U.S. automotive parts suppliers in some of the industry’s largest bankruptcies.

We also advise automotive clients on managing insolvency risk in their own operations and in the operations of their customers and suppliers. The “just‑in‑time” nature of the supply chain mandates that commercial relationships among suppliers and OEMs continue to work smoothly despite the insolvency or bankruptcy of anyone in that chain. The largest threat to the performance of a suppliers “just‑in‑time” obligations in this context is the failure by one or more suppliers to understand the shifting rights and obligations caused by insolvency. Conversely, those businesses that understand and apply insolvency expertise may be able maintain and improve their commercial position.

In addition to the myriad issues arising from maintenance of commercial relationships and supply chains, the insolvency of suppliers in the automotive industry has led to a proliferation of sales of insolvent suppliers’ profitable businesses and business groups that have been cut off from lagging businesses and legacy liabilities. We have advised North American, European and Asian automotive clients on major transactions for the acquisition of distressed assets in the United States and elsewhere. More often than not these sales are at a significant discount to the potential value of these businesses. As a result, opportunities are likely to abound for potentially profitable distressed acquisitions, most significantly for suppliers that maintain constructive relationships with the OEMs.

These and many other issues reveal the increased value at every level of the industry of the insolvency knowledge and expertise that we can provide."

Regional contacts for automotive clients regarding insolvency and distressed assets:

Americas
- to contact David Heroy, please click here (Mr. Heroy's bio)
Europe/Middle East - to contact Oliver Socher, please click here
Asia Pacific - to contact Gary Seib, please click here


DISTRIBUTION AND CUSTOMER/SUPPLIER RELATIONS

The global automotive industry is increasingly dependent on sound but flexible contractual relationships with key suppliers and key customers in order to meet the challenges arising from the changing global economy. The strategic issues to be addressed by clients include dealing with an ever-changing regulatory landscape, the repercussions of the credit crunch on the real-life economy, or intensified competition due to new market entrants. Moreover, the interdependency of lean production and strategic system supplier arrangements, increasing challenges for the logistics and supply chain, and the opportunities and challenges arising from emerging markets require a strategic element in both legal and commercial decisions.

As automotive clients meet the challenges of a rapidly changing global marketplace, they need quick and reliable access to trusted and experienced counsel; not only when issues arise, but preferably before they arise.

With an integrated and dedicated team of more than 80 practitioners dedicated to commercial law throughout Europe alone and more than 450 in Europe, Asia Pacific and the Americas, we cover more than three dozen nations that together comprise more than 80 percent of the world’s economic activity. Baker & McKenzie thus has not only the experience but also the coverage and expertise on which many automotive clients rely for efficient, expert advice whenever issues of commercial law arise. Our services include:

· Drafting, review and negotiation of customer/supplier contracts – We assist automotive clients during all stages of contract drafting and negotiation and render advice on strategic supplier/procurement contracts (including manufacturing or toll manufacturing agreements), agreements with key account customers (1st tier suppliers or OEMs), development and supply agreements, or joint ventures and cooperation agreements.

· Sales and distribution channels – We have particular expertise in distribution and agency with years of experience assisting clients in setting up, rolling out and terminating/restructuring their sales channels across regions. We also assist clients on consumer protection, advertising, promotions and similar issues so as to minimize their exposure. We have particular strengths in handling these arrangements in a coordinated and uniform manner across boundaries and regions while taking account of local legal issues.

· Prevention of anti-competition practices – Assistance in preventing your part suppliers, customers, dealers or competitors from pursuing anti-competitive arrangements that adversely affect your business. We advise on strategies to deter suppliers and competitors from anticompetitive practices in the automotive market.

· Competition law compliance – The European Commission’s Regulation EC/1400/2002 established a sector-specific regulation for the sale and distribution of vehicles and vehicle spare parts within the EU. Other countries and regions are also subject to special rules which may affect the business in the automotive sector. We advise in reviewing distribution structures, practices and agreements so that they do not conflict with competition law.

· Commercial litigation – Representation in commercial litigation , including civil cases, class actions and government prosecutions. We also defend companies and executives in government investigations and follow-on private litigation.

Regional contacts for automotive clients on distribution and customer/supplier relation:

Americas - to contact Charles Hallab, please click here
Europe/Middle East - to contact Ulf Wauschkuhn, please click here
Asia Pacific - to contact Peerapan Tungsuan, please click here


CUSTOMS AND TRADE REGULATION

The modeling of modern supply chain structures becomes increasingly complex in a global economy and has huge implications on various areas apart from tax planning. For instance import VAT/customs issues must be dealt with and compliance with import and export regulations and WTO and international trade rules is paramount. Such issues, albeit regulatory in nature, must be considered in conjunction with the drafting of customer and supplier contracts. The issues associated with trade regulation have long since become an issue not only for nations, but even more so for automotive companies which are international by virtue of the global marketplace in which they operate.

With an integrated and dedicated team of legal practitioners in Europe, Asia Pacific and the Americas, Baker & McKenzie has the experience, coverage, and expertise on which many automotive clients rely for efficient, expert advice whenever issues of customs and trade regulation arise:

· Global customs strategies – We handle all aspects of strategic customs planning and compliance. We help secure favorable customs rulings and approvals for various business ventures, and prepare strategies for usage of global classifications and valuation. We also obtain interpretations of relevant WTO and regional agreements and conduct multi-jurisdictional studies of customs duties, laws and requirements.

· Outbound trade and corporate compliance – We provide day-to-day compliance advice, conduct internal investigations, and represent clients in enforcement actions on export control, trade sanctions, anti-corruption, anti-boycott, anti-terrorism and anti-money laundering measures as implemented in various countries. We deliver timely, practical, "hands-on" compliance advice and training to enable businesses to operate legally and responsibly under these complex and rapidly changing laws.

· Trade remedies – We handle anti-dumping and countervailing duty investigations for petitioners and respondents, as well as safeguards actions and other trade sanctions imposed on imports. We also develop dispute avoidance and duty reduction strategies, and advise on negotiation of new trade remedies rules in the context of trade liberalization.

Regional contacts for automotive clients on customs and trade regulation:

Canada - to contact Paul Burns, please click here
United States - to contact Don Unger, please click here
Latin America - to contact Manuel Padron, please click here
Europe/Middle East - to contact Arne Gutermann, please click here
Asia Pacific - to contact Eugene Lim, please click here


TAX AND TRANSFER PRICING

Tax and Transfer Pricing are critical areas for companies in the automotive industries due to the important role that automotive companies play in the global economy and the magnitude of cross-border transactions. Our global Tax team, consisting of more than 500 attorneys and more than 50 economists and financial analysts, has advised automotive companies on complex and cutting-edge tax issues including transfer pricing, mergers and acquisitions, corporate restructurings, tax planning, tax controversy and VAT. As required, we work seamlessly with attorneys in our corporate, customs, intellectual property and other practice groups to deliver first-rate advice to automotive companies. In 2008, we were honored to receive Chambers USA’s award as Tax Team of the Year.

Transfer Pricing
Transfer pricing has drawn the attention of taxing authorities worldwide, and with the important role that the automotive industry plays in the economies of most countries, automotive companies are frequently subjected to rigorous transfer pricing scrutiny. New rules, documentation requirements and tax penalties have been created to encourage enforcement and support and enhance audit functions. Their impact on an automotive company's financial statements, tax planning and management compensation programs can be overwhelming. The drain on internal resources to resolve these disputes can be of equal concern.

Creative transfer pricing approaches can help manage and minimize global tax rates. Automotive company officials are realizing the importance of incorporating these policies into every aspect of their business, from acquisitions and divestitures to research and development activities.

More Than Any Other Law Firm
At Baker & McKenzie, our transfer pricing lawyers use their significant tax experience and automotive industry knowledge to assist clients in addressing and minimizing tax and financial statement exposure. We have more attorneys dealing with transfer pricing matters on a daily basis than any other law firm.

Our expertise in transfer pricing gains regular recognition in the International Tax Review.

How We Can Help
Our automotive industry experience is second to none, and our capabilities are diverse and substantial. They include:

· Tax audits and administrative appeals conferences for automotive parts suppliers and vehicle manufacturers.
· Administrative resolution to complex automotive transfer pricing cases in various jurisdictions.
· Unilateral and bilateral advance pricing agreements for automotive parts suppliers and vehicle manufacturers.
· Litigating automotive transfer pricing cases in court when necessary.
· Global transfer pricing policies for multinational automotive companies.
· Development and implementation of cutting-edge transfer pricing methods tailored to the automotive industry.
· Creation of economic and empirical support for the transfer pricing policies to be established.
· Preparation of Section 6662(e) transfer pricing documentation.
· Collaboration with management of automotive companies regarding transfer pricing structures.
· Multijurisdictional cost sharing, licensing and other arrangements for intangible property used in the automotive industry.
· Establishment of holding companies to minimize tax burdens.

Tax Advice for M&A and Corporate Restructuring
We provide global tax planning for mergers and acquisitions as well as pre-spin off and post-acquisition restructuring for companies in the automotive industry.

As the pace of globalization accelerates, cross-border mergers and acquisitions have become a daily occurrence. The need for highly specialized tax counsel to provide integrated global tax advice with respect to such transactions in the automotive industry is critical.

Working closely with corporate and securities lawyers to assess the corporate ramifications of potential structures and to get the deal done, the Global Tax Transactions Group devises and implements global tax strategies for public and private mergers and acquisitions in the automotive industry. These strategies - focused on transactional planning, structuring, and financing - produce substantial tax savings and legal efficiencies for our automotive clients. Because of its depth of expertise and its geographic scope, the Global Tax Transactions Group is also called upon to conduct complex multijurisdictional tax due diligence projects to ferret out potential tax exposures and liabilities that can impact significantly the price paid in a merger or acquisition. The Global Tax Transactions Group drafts and reviews transaction documentation to ensure that our automotive clients realize the tax savings they seek and are protected from tax risks and exposures. Such documentation includes merger agreements, share and asset purchase agreements, shareholder agreements, joint venture agreements, financing agreements, offer documents, prospectuses, and employee retention arrangements.

Tax Planning
Our approach to tax planning is multijurisdictional. We provide seamless national and international tax advice, taking into account the particular issues in the automotive industry and the tax considerations in the various countries involved in an international structure or transaction. Our aim is to maximize the efficiency of the worldwide tax position of our automotive clients based upon their overall objectives. And, unlike other international advisors, we have tax controversy and litigation expertise to defend our automotive clients' structures and strategies against challenge from tax authorities.

Tax Controversy & Litigation
Working with automotive clients on tax controversies with the tax authorities around the world is a major focus of our Global Tax Practice. Our lawyers provide advice and assistance at every stage of the controversy from audit, where it is important to control information and focus, through litigation, where it is important to forcefully and logically present the merits of our automotive clients' cases. Our attorneys have had experience working in various government agencies and well understand the administrative process. We have also handled many significant litigations in various courts around the world.

VAT
Our Global VAT Group comprises more than 100 VAT professionals around the globe. They advise on all aspects of VAT for clients in the automotive industry, including the VAT implications of transactions and VAT controversy work. They will help you reduce your VAT compliance burden, avoid VAT risks, litigate VAT cases and, most importantly, assess opportunities.

The current tax environment is driven by greater compliance requirements, more complex laws and tightened VAT regulations and a more robust attitude from the tax authorities. Not addressing VAT issues can lead to significant VAT exposures such as additional tax, interest and penalties as well as consequential income tax audits.

The sheer size of VAT adjustments can be daunting, particularly in the automotive industry, because of the way VAT exposures quickly extrapolate based on the number of transactions and years that may be in issue if VAT errors are discovered, especially when IT systems appear not to deliver what was promised or expected in the first place. However, experience shows that addressing VAT upfront reduces the burden of compliance. In addition, it invariably increases the potential for finding opportunities in the various jurisdictions. We can help automotive companies by:

· Providing high-level VAT advice
· Providing VAT health checks
· Assisting in VAT compliance
· Negotiating with tax authorities
· Concluding VAT rulings with authorities
· Negotiating/lobbying with EU Commission
· Representing clients at industry meetings
· Litigating VAT cases

Regional contacts for automotive clients for tax and transfer pricing:

North America - to contact Richard Slowinski, please click here
Europe/Middle East - to contact Stephan Schnorberger, please click here
Asia Pacific - to contact Brendan Kelly, please click here


LABOR AND EMPLOYEE RELATIONS

Personnel costs and HR issues are in the focus of all players in the automotive sector. They feel cost stress and profit pressure. Increasing costs of steel and other raw material force both OEMs and suppliers explore their options to optimize their workforce.

For nearly 60 years, our labor and employment team of more than 420 employment lawyers in 33 countries worldwide have helped companies in planning and realizing cross-border restructurings in establishing operations in new jurisdictions to replace higher cost operations . We have vast experience in advising automotive clients on coordinating the sensitive labor issues involved in such international projects, and we believe that no other law firm can offer the same level of seamless global service.

Our focus is both on the strategic planning and on the practical implementation of projects like plant relocations (e.g. migration to low cost countries) and closedowns including mass lay-offs, outsourcing, and insourcing. We know the local labor laws and help you in the negotiations with works councils and unions on the ground.

We advise our clients in merger situations, including post-merger-integration and harmonization of employment terms and conditions. Obviously our expertise covers also the drafting of employment contracts, bonus plans, long-term incentive and stock option plans, pensions and advice concerning executives (separation, non-compete agreements, etc).

Recent projects include
- close down of automotive parts manufacturing plants in Spain
- mass layoffs in Germany (General Motors/Opel)
- advising several suppliers with regard to the establishment of a European Works Council
- advising the automotive parts supplier Dura Automotive Systems in worldwide restructurings
- advising a supplier in selling a plant in Germany and dealing with protesting workforce and union

Regional contacts for automotive clients for labor and employee relations:

Canada - to contact Kevin Coon, please click here (Mr. Coon's bio)
United States - to contact John Raudabaugh, please click here (Mr. Raudabaugh's bio)
Latin America - to contact Ricardo Castro, please click here
Europe/Middle East - to contact Markus Kappenhagen, please click here
Asia Pacific - to contact Andreas Lauffs, please click here


MOVING PRODUCTION TO LOW-COST JURISDICTIONS

Companies that survive the current automotive industry meltdown will need to pay ever greater attention to their cost structures. These considerations have led vehicle producers to reaffirm their decisions to expand operations in low-cost jurisdictions, and suppliers will continue face increased pressure to join them.

As they establish and expand operations in Mexico, China, Southeast Asia, Eastern Europe and the Middle East, Baker & McKenzie lawyers and economists are there with the expertise and experience to help them avoid the pitfalls, establish efficient operations, and obtain the benefit of special tax and trade regimes that will make the most of their cost-cutting efforts.

As the leading law firm in all of these regions of the world, Baker & McKenzie has many years of experience in addressing all of the corporate, labor, tax, trade, IP and regulatory issues that automotive clients encounter in establishing manufacturing operations in any of these markets. In Mexico, for example, Baker & McKenzie is the leader in helping clients structure or restructure their operations in the ways required to enable them to benefit from the considerable tax reductions and trade efficiencies available for vehicle manufacturers and automotive parts manufacturers.

We also have advised many automotive clients on the full range of issues that they encounter in closing or downsizing operations in North America or Western Europe as they expand operations in lower cost jurisdictions, including issues of labor relations, benefits, commercial regulations and environmental laws that accompany plant closures.

Regional contacts for automotive clients for advice on matters related to moving production to low-cost jurisdictions:

Mexico - to contact John McLees, please click here
China - to contact Danian Zhang, please click here
Southeast Asia - to contact Peerapan Tungsuwan, please click here
Eastern Europe - to contact Martin Hrodek, please click here
Middle East - to contact Charles Hallab, please click here


SUPPLY CHAIN

In the increasingly competitive automotive industry, vehicle producers and parts suppliers are seeking more cost competitive supply chains and entering new markets for their products. These companies have increased needs for legal and tax advice to evaluate and implement their options on a cost-effective basis and synchronize their business, operational, legal and tax efficiencies. We advise companies on all issues regarding the structuring, implementation and maintenance of global and regional supply chain restructurings, including, for example, corporate, customs, employment, intellectual property, privacy and tax (direct and indirect) matters.

Regional contacts for automotive clients for advice on matters related to supply chain:

Americas - to contact John McLees, please click here
Europe/Middle East - to contact Jan Snel, please click here
Asia Pacific - to contact Brian Chia, please click here


OUTSOURCING

Outsourcing provides significant opportunities for and raises unique legal issues in the automotive industry. Whether its outsourcing engineering services, information technology, application development, call center or back-office functions, the cost savings and efficiency gains of outsourcing or offshoring must be factored into the decisions of automotive industry participants. These opportunities must be considered against the regulatory environment, compliance obligations and risk mitigation strategies applicable to outsourcing and offshoring in the automotive industry. At Baker & McKenzie, our Outsourcing team includes more than 250 lawyers worldwide, offering global coordination, unrivaled local expertise in all aspects of outsourcing transactions, and experience in ensuring that our automotive clients realize the projected value in the sourcing strategies that they undertake. As a result of our experience with multi-national transactions, we bring an instinctively global perspective to these deals which is innately built into the fabric of our culture and which addresses the unique issues raised with respect to sourcing functions from offshore locations. We routinely navigate the complex legal issues of outsourcing and offshoring transactions across practices and borders with ease and efficiency, providing the right team and expertise regardless of location.

Our outsourcing specialists ensure that every transaction benefits from appropriate structuring and the careful risk analysis and forward planning required to deliver value. In the automotive industry in particular, this requires understanding the design, testing and manufacturing environment of our automotive industry clients, applicable export control rules and alignment of the finance, tax, employment and intellectual property requirements with the strategic objectives of the outsourcing or offshoring transaction. The ability of our lawyers to work together seamlessly, coordinate complex global transactions successfully, address regulatory requirements, advise on tax matters, assist in due diligence investigations, and deliver required legal advice covering multiple jurisdictions is an aspect of our practice that no other law firm can match.

For example, we recently represented a major automotive parts supplier in outsourcing its information technology architecture and network management globally to a Tier 1 supplier, including local advice regarding the impact of European employment laws on the proposed transaction and advice regarding the optimal invoicing structure to minimize service taxes.

We also represented a major automotive parts supplier in sourcing engineering services from an Indian provider, including the provision of specific legal advice on issues of Indian intellectual property law, protection of confidential information in offshore locations and practical strategies for limiting the risk of theft of trade secrets.

We also recently advised a Tier 1 supplier with respect to its obligations related to compliance with export control regulations related to the remote delivery of dual use CAD/CAM software to its customer’s international affiliates and in structuring transition activities to minimize immigration constraints.

Regional contacts for automotive clients for advice on outsourcing of services and functions to third parties:

Americas - to contact Peter George, please click here
Europe/Middle East - to contact Richard Hawtin, please click here
Asia Pacific - to contact Henry Chang, please click here


INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY PROTECTION AND LICENSING

Our intellectual property lawyers assist on all aspects of IP portfolio management, technology transfer and licensing transactions. We conduct IP audits, help ensure patent validity, counsel on enforcement options, and bring enforcement actions for our automotive clients in the key jurisdictions where they operate.

Our IP lawyers are particularly active with respect to matters involving anticounterfeiting and gray market issues.

Regional contacts for automotive clients for advice on intellectual property protection and licensing:

Americas - to contact Kevin O'Brien, please click here
Europe/Middle East - to contact Jean-Francois Bretonniere, please click here
Asia Pacific - to contact Richard Gough, please click here


PRODUCT LIABILITY AND LITIGATION

Automotive clients need sound strategies to deal with product liability issues, and as they expand their global footprint, they need to be able to mobilize counsel world-wide overnight to deal with product recalls when they occur. Baker & McKenzie is unmatched in its expertise and experience throughout the world in product recall and product liability matters and in its proven ability to mobilize the resources that clients need to deal with product recalls wherever they occur.

With regard to product recall, we regularly work with our clients to achieve the best possible results in dealings with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration ("NHTSA") in the U.S. and its parallel government agencies abroad. We have particularly unique experience in coordinating global recall and other remediation programs. With regard to product liability, our litigators practice in courts throughout the world and are skilled in the defense of cases involving alleged defects in the design or manufacture of automotive products. We have particular experience with class actions and in their defense both in the U.S. and, increasingly, in other jurisdictions.

In addition, we have extensive experience with non-product liability disputes arising out of automotive component supply contracts, including disputes involving whether products meet specifications and whether a contract may be subject to termination. This experience includes disputes arising both under contracts between suppliers and OEM's, as well as contracts between different tier suppliers. We likewise have represented equipment suppliers in disputes with OEM's and have represented many automotive industry clients in disputes arising out of joint venture, alliance, outsourcing and distribution and agency agreements.. Another area in which we have extensive experience is in disputes involving merger and acquisition agreements, where there is an issue as to whether the buyer or seller has liability for claims arising out of the assets that were the subject of the transaction.

We have particular expertise in international arbitration under the rules of all of the major arbitral authorities, and we are finding increasingly that transnational contracts involving the automotive industry include arbitration clauses.

Regional contacts for automotive clients on product liability and litigation:

Americas - to contact Richard Franklin, please click here
Europe/Middle East - to contact John Leadley, please click here
Asia Pacific - to contact Klerk Ying Chew, please click here


ENVIRONMENT AND CLIMATE CHANGE

The automobile industry has for decades been on the forefront of initiatives to promote the protection of the environment and public and worker health and safety. The industry has been a leader in incorporating active environmental management into the manufacturing process. The industry has long been committed to workplace practices designed to ensure the health and safety of its workers. More recently, the industry has been focused on product innovation to respond to the challenges of global climate change and the increasing scarcity of natural resources. Industry consolidation and the expansion of manufacturing capabilities into emerging markets has also required companies to confront and resolve environmental challenges arising out of plant shutdowns and new development in foreign jurisdictions.

Baker & McKenzie’s Global Environmental Practice Group has long provided environmental counsel and legal support to automobile industry clients. With over 150 environmental attorneys located in offices around the world, we have brought the strength of our global environmental network to the assistance of our industry clients. Our clients include companies working throughout the global automobile supply chain - from raw material suppliers, including steel and aluminum producers, and parts manufacturers to established and start-up automobile manufacturers. We also represent large automobile sales and service companies.

The work that we have performed for our automobile industry clients is as varied as the clients themselves. We have worked with clients to develop and implement comprehensive environmental management systems to address the expanding regulatory compliance obligations confronted by the automobile industry. This work has included regular advice and counsel in support of ongoing corporate compliance auditing initiatives and in defense of environmental enforcement matters. Increasingly, this work has extended to the representation of clients on compliance issues and environmental auditing associated with new and expanding operations in Latin America and Asia. Given the pace of industry consolidation, we are also assisting clients in managing the environmental liabilities associated with the shutdown and decommissioning of manufacturing facilities in North American and Western Europe and the transfer of those operations to emerging markets. This work continues to include counsel on site cleanup and remediation and the development of comprehensive divestment strategies for closed operating sites.

Finally, Baker & McKenzie’s Global Environmental Group has been advising industry clients for over a decade now on the risks and opportunities associated with emerging regulatory schemes and expanding markets that have arisen to address the challenge of global climate change and the regulation of greenhouse gas emissions. The global footprint of our environmental practice makes us uniquely suited to assist clients in developing effective strategies to address this truly global issue. This counsel has extended to the development of corporate policies on the management and reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and, more broadly, the pursuit of environmental sustainability initiatives. We have also advised automobile industry clients on the opportunities presented by global carbon markets and emerging regimes in the United States.

Examples of ongoing work for automobile industry clients include the following:

- Representing an aluminum supplier in the United States in a major U.S. EPA enforcement case involving allegations of noncompliance with Clean Air Act requirements in more than ten states across the country;
- Preparing environmental registries documenting compliance obligations of multi-national automobile parts supplier in eight countries in Latin America;
- Environmental counsel in furtherance of the implementation of a company-wide strategy to consolidate manufacturing operations and dispose of shuttered manufacturing sites in the United States and Mexico;
- Environmental due diligence assistance and compliance counseling in support of the acquisition of industrial truck manufacturing facilities in China;
- Representing a major United States automobile manufacturer in permitting and compliance obligations implicated by the construction of a new manufacturing facility in Russia; and
- Strategic counsel to industry manufacturing concerns on the compliance risks and opportunities associated with global climate change regulations.

Regional contacts for automotive clients on environment and climate change:

Americas - to contact John Watson, please click here
Europe/Middle East - to contact Ulrich Ellinghaus, please click here
Asia Pacific - to contact Beatrice Schaffrath, please click here


COMPETITION LAW

As Automotive clients meet the challenges of a rapidly changing global marketplace, they need to implement sound competition policies and defensive strategies, and they need quick access to trusted and experienced counsel when issues arise.

With an integrated team of more than 120 competition lawyers throughout Europe, Asia Pacific and the Americas, Baker & McKenzie has the experience and expertise on which many automotive clients rely for efficient, expert advice whenever competition issues arise:

· Anti-competition prevention and competition compliance - Assistance in preventing your part suppliers, dealers or competitors from pursuing anti-competitive arrangements that adversely affect your business. Regulation 1400/2002 established a selective distribution system to sell and distribute vehicles and spare parts within the EU area. Other countries and regions are also submitted to special rules affecting the automotive sector. We advise in reviewing distribution structures and practices so that they do not conflict with competition law. We denounce suppliers and competitors who benefit from anticompetitive practices in the automotive market that damage price structure and fair competition.

· Compliance programs and audits - We provide competition law compliance training, programs and auditing to clients in all industry sectors, in particular, the automotive sector. Our team trains on auditing, raids and investigative techniques, inter alia, with police training schools and forensic investigators. Our Global Competition Toolkit is designed to help you efficiently achieve successful compliance and train your key employees. We also offer online compliance training, customizable by language, industry and jurisdiction.

· Winning the whistle blowing race - Once a company suspects anti-competitive conduct within its own structure, an internal audit of employees and documents is essential. The company needs to identify the scale of the problem, the countries affected and options for self-reporting and to mitigate sanctions before a raid comes. We are regularly called upon -often in the middle of a whistle blowing race- to coordinate time-record audits across countries and other regions to identify grey areas and report top managers accordingly. We have successfully settled cartel cases and obtained amnesties and leniency measures for automotive clients from authorities throughout the world. Our Global Leniency Manual gives you a guide as to the various policies worldwide.

· Investigation strategies – We have a practical expertise to formulate an effective strategy in the case of an investigation by antitrust and competition authorities. We can provide local, on-the-spot assistance when officials launch multi-jurisdictional raids of your premises. And we will manage the investigation process to contain the risks. We coordinate the defense of investigations at national, regional (e.g. multijurisdictional European) and global levels, through teams from our Global Antitrust Group. We advise on options for settlement or reducing penalties through cooperation with the authorities and, if necessary, before the Courts.

· Cartel defense and antitrust investigations - Cartel prosecutions an antitrust investigations, so common in the automotive sector, consist of coordinated competition authority raids that regularly happen simultaneously in multiple countries. Companies need immediate access to experienced competition lawyers who can represent them effectively in all jurisdictions and before the relevant competition authorities. We respond to investigations, conduct internal audits and coordinate dealings with regulators around the world. Both US and European authorities have been seriously active to prosecute and punish antitrust behaviors. The investigations carried out on Volkswagen, Mercedes-Benz or Opel facilities have resulted in heavy fines imposed by the European Commission. Contact our Competition Dawn Raid Hotline in case of any raid in the EU.

· Antitrust/competition litigation - Representation in Antitrust/Competition Litigation, including civil cases, class actions and government prosecutions. We also defend companies and executives in government criminal cartel investigations and follow-on private litigation. We have an established track record around the world including our Competition Litigation Unit in the EU to manage pan-EU and EU Member State based litigation.

· Merger control - Securing approvals for mergers, acquisitions, joint ventures and other arrangements to comply with competition law. Over 90 countries have laws requiring merger control clearance of transactions. Coordination of filings and clearances is essential to getting the deal through without regulatory delays. We advise on the competition law implications of mergers, joint ventures and other complex transactions in all sectors and, in particular, the automotive industry. We make national filings, European Commission filings and coordinate notifications across the globe, drawing on the expertise of our Global Antitrust Group. We handle in-depth merger investigations and, where necessary, negotiate remedies or conditional clearances with the authorities. Our Global Merger Control Manual details filing requirements in all major jurisdictions worldwide.

Regional contacts for automotive clients on competition law:

Americas - to contact Tom Campbell, please click here
Europe/Middle East - to contact Josep Balcells, please click here
Asia Pacific - to contact Pornapa Thaicharoen, please click here


IMMIGRATION

Like other technology and engineering-intensive industries, companies in the automotive sector are focused on recruiting and hiring the most highly educated, skilled, and talented employees, regardless of nationality. To this end, Baker & McKenzie’s Global Migration and Executive Transfer practice group has extensive experience representing multinational automotive companies in the global movement of executive, technical, and professional staff. Our Migration and Executive Transfer lawyers around the globe provide integrated legal services necessary to facilitate all aspects of expatriate assignments and the hire of foreign national employees.

These services include counseling on:
· The most appropriate methods of transfer;
· Temporary work visas and permanent residence applications;
· Expatriate agreements;
· Governing laws;
· Employee benefits;
· Income taxes and social security coverage; and
· Other administrative issues that commonly arise in connection with international transfers.

We counsel our clients regarding immigration-related corporate compliance issues, and prepare clients for immigration-related government raids/audits. Further, we counsel clients regarding penalties for non-compliance with local immigration, employment, tax, and employee benefits regulations.

Regional contacts for automotive clients for immigration matters:

North America - to contact Betsy Morgan, please click here
Canada – to contact Alan Diner, please click here
Latin America – to contact Alessandro M. O. Martins, please click here
Europe/Middle East – to contact Tony Haque, please click here
Asia Pacific – to contact Rita Chowdhury, please click here


More information about Baker & McKenzie:

Baker & McKenzie is the world's leading global law firm. We have provided sophisticated legal advice and services to many of the world's most dynamic and global organizations for more than 50 years.

With a network of more than 3,900 locally qualified, internationally experienced lawyers in 38 countries, we have the knowledge and resources to deliver the broad scope of quality legal services required for both international and local clients – consistently, with confidence and with sensitivity for cultural, social and legal practice differences.

The more than 11,000 lawyers, supporting professionals and staff of Baker & McKenzie share common values of integrity, personal responsibility and tenacity in an enthusiastic client-service culture. We are still guided by the enduring entrepreneurial spirit and demanding standards of our founders.

Ours is a diverse and welcoming culture with a global mindset. The lawyers and other professionals in our firm are citizens of more than 60 countries. We speak more than 65 languages. English is our common language.

Our teams are supported by advanced technologies and sophisticated management systems. These include a single, shared global technology platform, including client intake, financial and billing systems, e-mail, intranet and client extranets as well as global practice standards, a quality audit program and a worldwide conflicts policy.

Global Systems for Seamless Service

It's one thing to say you're a global law firm. It's quite another to actually be one.

As law firms expand around the world, they – and their clients – are discovering the quirks and challenges of international operations. Communication systems that don't talk to each other. Incompatible billing systems. Conflict checks that don't turn up conflicts – until it's too late.

At Baker & McKenzie, we have been building the infrastructure for seamless global service for more than half a century. We know what it takes to align people, processes and technologies so clients are well served. Work flows smoothly across borders. And bills arrive on time.

Ours is not the virtual reality of a virtually global firm. It's the actual reality of a law firm that has always operated with confidence across cultures, time zones, communications grids and power networks. We invest in infrastructure, so our lawyers can focus on client needs.

Systems to Meet Client Needs

In more than 65 locations worldwide, we use a common scheduling package, a common time and billing package, a common accounting package and a common invoicing package.

With our globally integrated billing system, all lawyers enter time in a consistent way, and we can provide clients with reports on the status of their matters and the pace of billings, across all offices and jurisdictions, in real time and in the currency of their choice.

We also have common guidelines on conflicts and a global conflict identification system that helps us reduce the likelihood that conflicts will surface belatedly, putting clients in difficult, sometimes costly positions.

Connecting Practicing Lawyers

Here are some of the other ways we connect as a seamless organization worldwide:
- A single, common e-mail platform, enables our lawyers around the world to collaborate and communicate free of time-zone restrictions. Most importantly, they can connect from anywhere in the world, assuring we are always connected to our clients.
- Direct e-mail connectivity over dedicated lines with all of our offices in 38 countries means deliveries are not delayed. Clients enjoy higher levels of security. And because there is no central hub through which communications pass, interruptions are isolated and rare.
- We also have developed and operate more than 300 custom-made client extranets that provide lawyers and clients worldwide with common, secure, self-maintainable spaces to communicate and share documents.

Resources to Get Things Done

Our BakerWeb intranet provides communities of knowledge, resources and tools for our practices and support functions across the Firm.

Other Web tools enable us to capture and distribute information about the industries we serve, clients or practice areas quickly and efficiently using electronic surveys and newsletters.

A centrally coordinated global identity management application enables our offices to develop consistent marketing and presentation materials quickly, at low cost and to high standards.

Dedicated Support for Reliability

Distributed support, backed by 300 IT professionals worldwide, further enhances our network.

Our lawyers are able to turn around dictation and transcriptions and format documents 24/7, even if local support has gone home, through our Document Support Centre in Manila. The center allows us to improve client responsiveness and better manage client costs.

A Network Operations Center, also in Manila, performs 24/7 monitoring of our global infrastructure to identify potential problems before they emerge, improving service availability and reducing local office monitoring costs.

And if our lawyers or staff have questions or technology issues, they can contact a global help desk 24/7 to get the answers or support they need.




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Revised: November 24, 2008.

 


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