Hot 100: Edward Smith, Telefónica UK

Things are never dull in the fast-paced telecoms sector but 2012 was a particularly busy time for Telefónica UK, which operates under the O2 brand in the UK, and its general counsel Edward Smith (scroll down for video interview).


Smith oversaw the complete  transformation of the legal team in the wake of widespread company restructuring and the creation of London division Telefónica Digital, which took on a large number of employees that were previously working for the UK business. After various replacements and 13 new hires, the team now has 31 lawyers, four regulators and four PAs.

Another major coup for Smith and his team last year was brokering the deal with Vodafone UK to roll out a single grid of 18,500 sites across the country.

“Everything now has to be done as it has never been done before. We have to work out the best way forward and ask ourselves if we can solve this by a partnership or by looking for new partners,” says Smith. “Closing the network deal with Vodafone was so important as without it our business would not have been viable.”

Smith topped one triumph with another by navigating the highly contentious 4G spectrum auction. “The whole 4G spectrum subject has been the most challenging thing that we’ve dealt with this year, since we were trying to get the rules agreed without risking the auction being delayed and we really showed forbearance in terms of litigation,” he says.