* Rothschild leads global auto M&A tables
* Citi, JPMorgan, and Hogan & Hartson advised Ford
By Quentin Webb
LONDON, March 29 One of China's most senior
female bankers, two top Swedish industrialists and a childhood
friend of London's mayor led the Rothschild team that helped
Geely seal China's biggest-ever overseas autos takeover.
Signing the deal helps cement Rothschild's [ROT.UL]
standing as the busiest adviser to the automotive industry --
and underlines the family owned bank's impeccable establishment
On Sunday, Li Shufu's Zhejiang Geely agreed to buy Volvo
Cars from Ford for $1.8 billion. That capped months of
painstaking negotiations over the future of the Swedish maker
of robust sedans, which Ford has owned for a decade.
Even before the Volvo transaction, Rothschild had worked on
$89.25 billion worth of auto deals over the last 12 months,
according to Thomson Reuters data, more than any other bank.
Recent clients include Volkswagen (VOWG_p.DE), BMW (BMWG.DE)
and the British and U.S. governments.
People familiar with the matter said Jennifer Yu,
Rothschild's top investment banker in greater China, and
London-based Meyrick Cox, one of the three co-heads of the
bank's automotive team, helped lead the deal.
Yu is married to the adopted son of former Chinese
President Jiang Zemin, according to a 2008 article by French
business magazine Challenges.
She helped smooth relations with the Chinese government,
whose support was vital for Geely, the people said. "She's one
of those people who tends to get whisked through security at
airports -- it's very impressive," one said.
The car-obsessed Cox, a former Goldman Sachs (GS.N) partner
who switched banks in 2002, was key in negotiating complex
intellectual property issues, one person said.
As a child, Cox won a scholarship to the elite Eton College
alongside his friend Boris Johnson, now London's mayor.
Also instrumental were Rothschild adviser Hans-Olov Olsson
and Pehr Gyllenhammar, vice-chairman of Rothschild Europe, who
have ties stretching back decades to Volvo Cars and its former
parent Volvo AB (VOLVb.ST).
Olsson served as chief executive and then chairman of Volvo
Cars, and later as Ford's chief marketing officer. A
"restrained, analytical, archetypal Swedish businessman," he
helped communicate with Volvo Cars employees, unions and
suppliers, one of the people said.
Gyllenhammar, who ended a 23-year career at Volvo AB as
executive chairman in 1993, is also chairman of the Thomson
Reuters (TRI.TO) (TRI.N) Trustee Directors.
Freshfields corporate lawyer Chris Bown and intellectual
property specialist Avril Martindale also advised Geely.
Ford turned to Hogan & Hartson LLP partner Bill Curtin, who
advised the Detroit giant on the 2008 sale of two of its other
premier car marquees, Jaguar and Land Rover, to India's Tata
Motors Ltd (TAMO.BO).
Citigroup (C.N) bankers including Leon Kalvaria, vice
chairman of Citi's institutional clients group, and Eric
Levengood, managing director in the bank's global industrials
group, also advised Ford, as did a team from JPMorgan (JPM.N),
the people said.
(Additional reporting by Michael Flaherty in Hong Kong;
Editing by Maureen Bavdek)