A legal battle between Mirae Asset Financial Group and China’s Anbang Insurance Group may escalate into a war including Anbang’s legal advisor amid sharp conflict between the two sides over a collapsed $5.8 billion hotels deal.
Mirae Asset filed the suit in May after four of its affiliates — Mirae Asset Global Investments, Mirae Asset Capital, Mirae Asset Daewoo and Mirae Asset Life Insurance — were sued by Anbang for missing a deadline to buy its 15 U.S. hotels. MAPS Hotels and Resorts One LLC, a paper company formed to acquire the hotel portfolio, was also sued.
Mirae Asset’s countersuit contended that Anbang had not secured full title insurance on the hotels before the transaction deadline. Mirae Asset is particularly putting its utmost efforts into seizing evidence that Anbang had intentionally tried to conceal important issues.
“Mirae Asset is focusing on securing evidence related to Anbang’s intentional concealment,” said a legal source, adding, Mirae Asset is expected to have secured related evidence and witnesses.
Market insiders are paying attention to Anbang’s lawyer, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP. The law firm also provided Anbang with legal advice when the insurance conglomerate and Mirae Asset signed their agreement last year.
Mirae Asset is focusing on the point that Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher might have recognized Anbang’s concealment when the two sides signed the contract last year. A legal source said Mirae Asset is likely to focus on whether Anbang intentionally concealed the critical issues and Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher had recognized the fact at that time.
“If the legal battle escalates to include Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, it is likely to put more power in Mirae Asset’s hands,” said a second legal source. “If Mirae Asset could prove that Gibson Dunn & Crutcher had recognized Anbang’s title problems, the lawsuit is expected to be advantageous to Mirae Asset. Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher may be put in a position where it has to prove Anbang’s and its innocence at the same time.”
Anbang is represented in this lawsuit by Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher and Kim & Chang. Mirae Asset has hired Peter & Kim and Quinn Emanuel to respond to the lawsuit. Korean law firm Yulchon and the U.S.-based Greenberg Traurig, which provided Mirae Asset with legal advice regarding the acquisition last year, also support Mirae Asset.
Mirae Asset and Anbang’s first hearing will be held on August 24 with the two sides busy securing their witnesses. (Reporting by Byung-yoon Kim)