Burges Salmon has made moves to head off potentially serious conflict issues after it was instructed to advise both 3 and longstanding client Orange.
Two distinct planning teams of three associates led by a senior associate have been set up to cover the work, with planning star Patrick Robinson overseeing both relationships.
The firm has secured client approval to advise the two competing businesses after Robinson won the firm the role of planning and environmental adviser to 3’s video mobile network, despite its longstanding relationship with competitor Orange.
The history of the two clients is, of course, closely intertwined: Hutchison sold its entire 44.8 per cent stake in Orange to Mannesmann in 1999, won a 3G licence and began the roll-out of its new video mobile network 3.
This has worked to Burges Salmon’s advantage. Jane Evans, 3’s head of UK network planning, was among personnel to switch from Orange and was keen to continue her relationship with Burges Salmon. In the interim, 3 used the planning department of Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, its global and strategic adviser. Its other key relationship is with CMS Cameron McKenna for site acquisition.
Before appointing Burges Salmon, Evans said that she looked at two City firms, Manchester and Leeds. However, Burges Salmon’s speedy response times and the flexibility of using a relatively small team were particularly appealing.
“If there’s a site we are both interested in, we have clear demarcations… The sitution has not yet arisen where I have felt the need to pull work out [of Burges Salmon] over a conflict,” Evans told The Lawyer.
Evans said that Burges Salmon’s role advising both clients on general industry issues would not amount to conflicts.
Robinson said: “It was a question of finding a method of working that satisfied both major operators.”