A&O advises BSkyB on Competition Commission challenge

BSkyB is relying on Allen Overy (A&O) to lead a legal challenge against the Competition Commission’s ruling that it reduce its stake in ITV.

In October 2007 the Competition Commission concluded that BSkyB’s 17.9 per cent stake in ITV would lead to a substantial lessening of competition by giving BSkyB the ability to influence its competitor’s strategy. This, the commission said, would be against the public interest.

BSkyB is seeking to quash these findings. The media giant will also seek to challenge the subsequent decision by the Secretary of State that BSkyB should dispose of the majority of its shareholding in ITV.

BSkyB will lodge its appeal with the Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT) tomorrow (22 February).

The A&O team is led by competition partner Antonio Bavasso and consultant John Wotton, assisted by associates Cerry Darbon and Dominic Long.

A&O advised BSkyB on its original £940m acquisition of the ITV stake after the company’s regular adviser, Herbert Smith, was conflicted out. At the time BSkyB said that Herbert Smith would remain its primary external counsel.

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer acted for ITV in the original Competition Commission probe, but is not directly involved in BSkyB’s present appeal.

Herbert Smith meanwhile was instructed last March to act for BSkyB on a parallel, but separate, Ofcom probe (www.thelawyer.com, 21 March 2007).