Following BT’s high-profile £12.5bn takeover of UK mobile business EE, it has emerged the companies’ plan to consolidate external legal panels, while EE’s general counsel James Blendis (pictured) has been appointed to BT’s legal leadership team.
Blendis will now sit on BT’s legal leadership board, which comprises senior legal management including group general counsel Dan Fitz.
Keeping his title as general counsel and company secretary, Blendis, will continue to report to EE chief executive Marc Allera, with the intention to largely maintain his legal team as a separate operation. He has already started the process of integrating certain legal functions, however, particularly those that operate across BT’s lines of business including employment, legal affairs, litigation, and certain security capabilities.
The newly implemented structure means EE is now retained as a wholly owned subsidiary of BT. EE is retaining its status and operating as a separate mobile division of BT while also retaining the brand.
Blendis said: ‘I’ve got a dotted line into Dan Fitz and I’ve joined his leadership team. There will be some elements of us operating as a separate business. In the short term it won’t affect the EE panel, but there is a plan to consolidate across the BT group where we can and take advantage of the scale. We will try and be part of that but for now we need to maintain continuity.’
In November Legal Business revealed that BT had begun a wide-reaching review on how to change its internal structure to bring its lawyers closer to the business, while at the same time considering its next panel. The roster, set in 2013 for three years includes Bird & Bird, CMS Cameron McKenna, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Wiggin and Sheridans and is expected to become more nuanced with firms categorised under ‘capacity’ and ‘expertise.’
The strategic review had been derailed by the telecom giant’s proposed acquisition of EE during the summer.