Orange, T-Mobile merger kicks off panel scramble

Telecoms giants’ ’Everything Everywhere’ tie-up puts legacy panel firms on red alert

James Blendis
James Blendis

The legal teams at Orange and T-Mobile have been integrated following the merger of the two telecoms giants, to be followed by a panel review later this year.

The merger, which went live on 1 July, has created a new company called Everything Everywhere, becoming the UK’s largest telecoms provider ahead of rivals Vodafone and O2.

The legal team is currently operating with the legacy panels of Orange and T-Mobile, which have a combined legal spend of around £5m, but they are set to be merged – a move likely to trigger fierce competition among both firms’ advisers.

A source at Everything Everywhere said: “The legal panel will be reviewed and we need to begin ­planning for what that will look like. It will take a bit of time but we need to secure the best cost advantage for the ­business.”

T-Mobile’s main panel firms include Allen & Overy, Bird & Bird, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, ­Hammonds, Kemp Little and Winckworth Sherwood. It also instructs Monckton Chambers and Essex Court Chambers.

Orange’s primary legal advisers are Field Fisher Waterhouse and Olswang, while it also works with Baker & McKenzie, Burges Salmon, Cobbetts and
TLT Solicitors. Eversheds is believed to be the only firm that has a place on both panels.

During the merger ­discussions T-Mobile’s ­parent company Deutsche Telekom was advised by a Clifford Chance team, which included competition partner Jenine Hulsman and Düsseldorf competition partner and office head Joachim Schütze.

Orange parent company France Telecom was advised by a Norton Rose team, which included regulatory partner Michael Grenfell and corporate partner ­Oliver Stacey.
The new-look legal team at Everything Everywhere is headed by general counsel and company secretary James Blendis, formerly legal director at T-Mobile. Former Orange UK general counsel Alexander Lunshof has moved into a senior role within the legal team of parent company France Telecom.

Blendis will oversee five legal divisions headed by a mix of former T-Mobile and Orange lawyers. They are: Orange’s Colin Caldwell, Sonia Bellamy and Tom Speed and T-Mobile’s Guy Perring and Matthew ­Redding. The combined 60-strong legal team will be split between offices in H­atfield, Paddington and Bristol.