Simmons sees Telefónica through purchase of China Netcom Group

Simmons & Simmons has closed its first deal for Telefónica as the acquisitive Spanish telecoms operator made its first steps into China.

The firm won a competitive tender against a number of City and US firms to advise Telefónica on the acquisition of a e240m (£135.6m) equity stake in Hong Kong-based China Netcom Group. The Spanish company intends to increase its equity stake in China Netcom in the near future.

Simmons Hong Kong-based corporate partner Daniel Liew led the team, with assistance from Madrid managing partner Luis Felipe Castresana.

Clifford Chance Hong Kong advised China Netcom. The firm also advised Telefónica on its 2001 IPO. Clifford Chance partner Amy Lo is leading the team advising China Netcom.

Liew said: “It’s the first time that a major telecoms company from Europe has acquired a fixed-line operator in this part of the world. We had to look at the regulatory environment in China because telecoms is not fully open.

“There were issues in Hong Kong, because the target company is listed in Hong Kong but operational in China. It also has some Asian operations after it bought the network of Asian Global Crossing.”

Following the acquisition, Telefónica and China Netcom will negotiate a framework for strategic cooperation, which could include the joint purchasing of technology and infrastructure, research and development and marketing.