Capital Radio

In a line-up of UK broadcasters, Capital Radio seems to be dwarfed by its competitors, which include the BBC and Scottish Media Group-owned Virgin Radio.

Capital is historically linked with its London birthplace, but since the early 1990s, the company has been quietly extending its reach in the UK through the acquisition of a tranche of local radio stations.

Towards the latter part of the nineties, Capital diversified its business through the internet and by starting a record label, both of which were launched with Telstar Entertainment Group.

And at the beginning of this year, Capital entered another period of intense change when it launched Life, its first national digital station.

It is the diversity of the company’s portfolio that Nathalie Schwarz, company secretary and head of legal at Capital, says makes the job so exciting.

She says: “It is very dynamic, you don’t know what is going to hit your desk from one day to the next. There is stuff floating around from the radio to the internet side.”

Although Schwarz is the sole legal adviser to Capital, she keeps the majority of work in-house.

She says: “Some of the work is outsourced, for example property. But we only outsource where appropriate.

“In terms of day-to-day work, as opposed to transactional, most of it is kept in-house. The odd employment query goes out and obviously trademarking, but I would say the majority goes past my desk.

“There might be the odd contract that gets outsourced, but it is very hands-on.”

Up until a year ago, however, Capital outsourced all its work because the company did not have an in-house legal capability.

Schwarz says: “There was another company secretary, but he was more a finance person. I am the first lawyer.”

She says that the company had a series of relationships with external legal advisers.

“I had a look at them when I arrived and it had been very much a longstanding relationship with particular firms. But it is not just the firms, I guess there had also been good personal relationships which I think is important.”

For commercial work, Capital uses Freshfields, which advised the company on the disposal of a number of its restaurants last year.

Schwarz says: “The deal happened quickly because we had set certain time pressures.

“You have to be quite sensitive when it comes to disposals because there are wider concerns such as employee concerns and public relations, so you can’t really have these things drag on for so long.”

Aside from day-to-day commercial matters, Schwarz also has to grapple with the legal implications of using the internet as a business tool.

She says: “The basic principles you apply when dealing with e-business are those you would apply in general law. But there are new issues, such as music rights online.

“These are changing constantly and they are the areas we try to get specialist up-to-date advice on, because they are issues private practice lawyers are not confident about.”

Capital’s business is restricted solely to the UK, so there is no need for a European-wide legal adviser.

Schwarz says: “Any move into Europe has to be carefully thought about with broadcasting and regulatory concerns over foreign ownership.

“But then obviously we would go for external advice.”
Nathalie Schwarz
Head of legal and company secretary
Capital Radio

Organisation Capital Radio
Sector Media
Market capitalisation £1.3bn
FTSE 250 rating 162
Employees 1000
Legal function one lawyer
Head of legal Nathalie Schwarz, company secretary
Reporting to Peter Harris, financial director
Main location for lawyers London
Main law firms Freshfields (corporate), Eversheds (property), Denton Wilde Sapte (employment), Olswang (media) and Titmuss Sainer Dechert (trademarks)