The Work

September 8, 2009 12:51 PM

Clifford Chance, Norton Rose Get Call on U.K. Mobile Megamerger

Posted by Brian Baxter

Clifford Chance is hitting the ground running amid reports of a long-awaited upswing in M&A activity.

Sibling publication Legal Week reports that the firm is advising Deutsche Telekom in negotiations to merge its T-Mobile unit in the U.K. with the mobile operations of Orange UK, owned by France Telecom.

Deutsche Telekom and France Telecom announced on Tuesday that they were planning on merging their British mobile operations in a 50-50 joint venture as a means of competing with market leaders O2 and Vodafone. The planned merger, expected to close in October, would create the U.K.'s leading mobile service provider.

Legal Week reports that Clifford Chance corporate partners Joachim Fleury and Spencer Baylin in London are advising Deutsche Telekom. Joachim Schütze, managing partner of the firm's Düsseldorf office, is serving as antitrust counsel along with partner Jenine Hulsmann in London. (Clifford Chance is one of Deutsche Telekom's panel firms.)

Orange parent company France Telecom has turned to Norton Rose, according to Legal Week. Corporate finance partners Chris Pearson and Oliver Stacey in London are leading a team from the firm advising the company's Orange UK unit. (The firm has previously advised France Telecom on M&A deals.)

T-Mobile's U.K. unit has had a rough year, with Deutsche Telekom writing down its value by $1.8 billion in the first quarter. U.K. mobile market leader O2, which is owned by Spanish telecom giant Telefónica, and Vodafone both submitted bids for the struggling subsidiary. Linklaters won the instruction from Vodafone, reports Legal Week.

In a separate telecom deal announced on Monday, Clifford Chance advised Telefónica on a strategic alliance with China Unicom. The deal, which will see both companies purchase $1 billion stakes in the other, is the first equity stake in a European telecom purchased by a Chinese company.

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer advised China Unicom on the arrangement.

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