BAE Systems has hired O2’s general counsel Philip Bramwell to replace group legal director Michael Lester.

Bramwell will join BAE Systems at the start of November and succeed Lester on 1 January 2007 as a member of the company’s executive committee.

Lester’s retirement coincides with that of BAE Systems CEO Mark Ronald, who steps down at the end of the year to be replaced by Walt Havenstein, president of the company’s electronics and integrated solutions operating group.

Dick Olver, chairman of BAE Systems said: “Michael and Mark have helped see BAE Systems through some very exciting times and their skills and experience have been invaluable to us.”

In his time at BAE Systems, Lester used Linklaters, Slaughter and May, Allen & Overy, Arnold & Porter on IP matters and Pinsent Masons on the company’s $1.9bn IT outsourcing deal with CSC this year.

He led the company through its £17.6bn takeover by Spanish telecoms giant Telefonica this year, instructing Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer corporate partner Will Lawes.