Dentons and Freshfields advise Bouygues on 3G

The Lawyer can reveal that Denton Wilde Sapte and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer fought off a cluster of firms to advise Bouygues Telecom on its abortive bid for France's third generation (3G) licences.

Bouygues caused uproar last month when it pulled its bid on the eve of the auction, claiming the French government was asking for too much money as well as questioning the validity of 3G licensing. The French government had requested a fee of FFr31.5bn (£3bn) for each licence.

Dentons acted for the French telco on UK financing law and Freshfields advised on French law. Allen & Overy was instructed by the non-disclosed banks which financed Bouygues.

It is understood a range of firms tendered for the work, including Weil Gotshal & Manges and Ashurst Morris Crisp.

Dentons lead partner Matthew Jones claims ignorance of which other firms pitched for the deal, but adds: “Getting that job was the direct result of the merger [between Denton Hall and Wilde Sapte].”

Dentons banking and finance partner Chris Fanner also acted on the team, which consisted of three more assistants.

Bouygues' decision to pull out of the auction has sent shock waves through the telecoms industry, particularly as such auctions are major money spinners for the government.

But the French authorities had to pull the original auction after it was left with only two bidders, Orange, owned by France Telecom, and Vivendi's SFR. Suez Lyonnaise pulled out of the auction with Bouygues, leaving the government unable to continue in case it created a duopoly.

Similarly in Australia there are growing concerns that its auction – scheduled for March – could end up being a similar fiasco.

The French auction will be re-staged, although a date has yet to be set. Jones says the firm is awaiting instructions from Bouygues on what its next move will be.