The big deal

We recently advised Orange on their half of the sale of EE - the UK’s biggest mobile operator - to BT. This transaction trebled BT’s customer base and redefined Orange’s strategy. It was a landmark deal for the telecoms industry – and for three of our trainees.

A trainee’s perspective - Hannah Stiven

“Working on a market-shaping deal was incredible. I was involved right from the initial briefings. And because the deal was delivered in such a short time, I got to experience it all in one seat.

As a trainee, you support an associate on a specific part of the deal. I was involved in the disclosure letter. This showed me the importance of attention to detail. No matter how fast paced it got, we had to be accurate and provide evidence for everything. Any mistakes could cause serious problems later on.

It also reinforced the value of teamwork. All the parties had their own legal advisers, and working with, rather than against, another law firm was an interesting experience. It was good to share the excitement and pressures with other trainees.

On our side, the other trainees and I delegated work between ourselves and then one of us drew it all together to make sure it was consistent. The wider team came together well too – particularly when the deadline was approaching and we were putting in the long hours and late nights.

At the time of writing, we are awaiting approval from the Competition and Markets Authority. When this comes through, I’m looking forward to the closing dinner.”

A partner’s perspective – Oliver Stacey

“Orange has a very strong in-house legal team but on such a large, groundbreaking deal, they needed greater resources and corporate and telecoms expertise and so having worked with us before on a number of transactions, they were happy for us to advise.

The deal presented plenty of challenges. A limited exclusivity period meant that timescales were unusually short. There was sensitivity around the Competition and Markets Authority approval, because of the deal’s profile. Both EE and BT had their own pension schemes, so there were complex pension issues to contend with too.

Orange is based in Paris, so there was lots of travel required. We were next to them at every stage of negotiations - supporting them in a very exciting deal in a fast moving and still-developing sector. It was one of those transactions that required many different departments here to work together. This is when we’re at our strongest.

You can’t do deals like this without trainees. Hannah, Matt and Rosie all played key roles – particularly during the due diligence and negotiation phases. We had a short time to review and process an enormous number of documents, and we needed the team to manage this with ability as well as enthusiasm. They stepped up, and our client was very pleased with the performance of everyone here.”

Our trainees rise to some impressive challenges in the office – but that’s only one of the ways we’ll support your development. To discover how we’ll help you outside the office, find out what your role could be beyond the day-to-day.


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