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Automotive Suppliers


Varnum is firmly focused on serving automotive suppliers and other sophisticated parties that have commercial relationships with automotive OEMs, rather than serving OEMs themselves. As a matter of firm policy, we provide the full gamut of legal services exclusively to automotive suppliers in order to deliver commercially astute and conflict-free counsel that allows suppliers to enjoy strong relationships with their customers, capitalize on opportunities and minimize risks.

We are regularly asked to develop creative solutions, providing clients with bespoke legal advice tailored to their business goals. Illustrative examples of our work in action include:

  • Negotiating long-term supply agreements amongst multiple sole source suppliers to protect a client’s future sourcing needs at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Advising companies on navigating complex economic sanctions programs, including the provision of advice on day-to-day compliance with OFAC and other sanctions related to trade with Cuba, Iran and Russia/Ukraine.
  • Conducting an internal investigation for an automotive supplier and securing declinations of criminal prosecution in grand jury investigations by two U.S. Attorneys offices and the Department of Justice Environment Natural Resources Division for alleged violations of the Clean Air Act.
  • Representing Tier 1 and Tier 2 suppliers in out-of-court workouts and bankruptcies of troubled suppliers and customers.



"Auto Parts” Antitrust Investigation

We have defended a global auto supplier in connection with the Department of Justice’s long-running “Auto Parts” antitrust investigation, including in connection with claims asserted by car dealers and direct purchasers in multiple class actions. Through our creative counseling, we secured a full declination of charges from the DOJ, despite our client’s identification as an alleged co-conspirator, and have paid de minimis settlements of class action claims.

Historic Independent Monitorship of General Motors

Our firm served as a member of the leadership team assembled by the Independent Monitor named by the U.S. Department of Justice to oversee a GM’s compliance with its obligations stemming from a deferred prosecution agreement arising, in part, from the manufacturer’s failure to comply with Federal Motor Vehicle Safety regulations in connection with a safety recall. We monitored the manufacturer’s processes in connection with the development of an autonomous vehicle technology and monitored and provided recommendations in connection with ensuring the accuracy of owner’s manuals, communications, marketing and advertising statements regarding autonomous vehicles, technology, and driver interaction with technology.

Fabco’s Sale to Meritor

A Varnum team represented Fabco in connection with the sale of its product portfolio and related technologies to Meritor. The creative transaction generated value for both Fabco’s stakeholders and allowed Meritor to acquire an attractive collection of assets. This transaction was named the 2018 “Restructuring Deal of the Year” at the 12th Annual Atlas Turnaround Awards.

Innovative Commercial and Supply Contract Support

As longstanding counsel to a Tier 1 supplier to the heavy truck industry, we routinely negotiate, structure and execute long-term supply agreements that balance both original and aftermarket solutions in a highly competitive pricing environment.

Paving the Way for Rapid Expansion in Michigan

The Varnum real estate team provided counsel for a first-in-its industry national client’s service business and entrance into the Michigan market, which included rapid growth and acquisition of multiple sites, assets and work forces.

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