Herbert Smith and Olswang lead on O2-Vodafone joint venture

Herbert Smith, Linklaters, Olswang and Wragge & Co have all landed roles on a joint venture between O2 and Vodafone that will see the phone companies unite to create a single national grid in the UK.

O2 – the UK arm of Spain’s Telefónica – and Vodafone, which are respectively the second and third biggest mobile operators in the UK, have formed a joint venture to pool their network infrastructure, creating a national grid of 18,500 masts and sites. The companies would not comment on the savings afforded by the deal in press reports, preferring to stress the improved signal coverage that the deal will lead to for customers, as well as its potential to speed up the delivery of 4G mobile services.

The two companies will split responsibilities to maintain and develop equipment geographically, with O2 taking the east of the UK and Vodafone the west.

O2 opted for a single advisor on the deal and picked Herbert Smith. Telecoms partners Amanda Hale and Nick Elverston led on the deal. Other partners working on the deal were Heather Gething (tax), Veronica Roberts (competition), Simon Price (property) and Tim Leaver (employment).

Olswang, meanwhile, did the bulk of the work as external advisers for Vodafone, working with the company’s in-house team. Corporate partner Simon Morgan and telecoms partner Purvi Parekh led on the deal, with partner Mark Joscelyne advising on tax. Olswang was appointed to Vodafone’s panel for the first time in September 2011 (13 September 2011).

Two other Vodafone panel members also won roles. Vodafone’s main corporate counsel Linklaters advised the company on competition issues, with Brussels advocat Gerwin Van Gerven and London partner Michael Cutting leading. Wragges, led by partner Jack Jacovou, advised the company on property issues.