Legal Business


  • Group general counsel and company secretary: Rosemary Martin.
  • Team headcount: 350 lawyers.

Vodafone’s legal team is the equivalent of a sizeable law firm in its own right – housing 350 lawyers in 26 countries worldwide and across legal, compliance and corporate secretariat, with a central team based in the UK. Led by GC and company secretary Rosemary Martin, one of the most well-known and respected heads of legal in the industry, it draws plaudits from all areas.

James Conyers, GC at BSkyB, says: ‘I’ve heard about the sort of things Rosemary Martin is trying to achieve at Vodafone and I always follow what they are up to with interest – in particular the approach to diversity and also the thoughtful approach to managing and developing the internal team.’

After pioneering the outsourcing of work to alternative service providers such as Riverview Law, Obelisk Legal Support and Axiom, the team is now looking towards managing the multiple resources of the in-house legal team, offshore Vodafone lawyers and legal outsourcers.

The team is particularly noted for its diversity focus, especially towards gender. Martin comments: ‘At Vodafone we do quite a lot around diversity, particularly as regards gender. We have job-sharing, which we try to encourage. A couple of senior lawyers are job-sharing.’ In the group legal team itself, which supports the head office, there are 20 nationalities, with 43 men and 65 women.

The legal department at Vodafone is also leading the pack on knowledge sharing and new media. ‘When we talk to law firms about what we are doing on knowledge management, we are probably at the forefront or certainly comparable with the big in-house legal teams, or ahead of some of the law firms, which is quite gratifying as it is something we spend quite a lot of time and effort on,’ adds Martin.

Legal Business

Hogan Lovells leads for Vodafone on €145m Cobra acquisition


Hogan Lovells’ Milan office has led on Vodafone’s €145m acquisition of Italian car electronics maker Cobra Automotive Technologies as the machine-to-machine sector is identified as the latest untapped market.

Milan-based M&A partner Luca Picone spearheaded Vodafone’s acquisition of Cobra. Leah Dunlop, who heads the Hogan Lovells corporate practice in Italy, also advised.

Alexander Deacon, head of legal corporate at Vodafone, ran the acquisition in-house.

Cobra was advised by by Alfredo Craca, a partner at Craca Di Carlo Guffanti Pisapia Tatozzi & Associates.

The deal valued Cobra, which is listed on the Milan stock exchange, at €1.49 per share in cash. Picone’s previous deals include advising Japanese IT company NTT Data on the acquisition of the entire share capital of the IT consulting company Value Team and private equity fund Terra Firma’s acquisition of solar assets Rete Rinnovabile from Terna for €670m, the largest acquisition in the Italian solar energy sector.

Vodafone’s agreement with the main shareholders of Cobra, who together hold almost 74% of the share capital, saw the group agree to tender their shares into the offer, which is expected to be launched in the coming weeks and will be subject to Italian law. Vodafone has also entered into an agreement with certain minority shareholders of Cobra’s Telematics subsidiary to acquire their 20% shareholding for €20 million.

The British multinational yesterday (16 June) announced its intention to acquire the Italian group in what has been identified as the race for machine-to-machine communications, whereby users can control household appliances and manage handheld devices by voice.

Legal Business

DLA Piper, Slaughters and Vodafone shine in 2014 Legal Business Awards


In what has proved the largest Legal Business Awards ever held, DLA Piper, Slaughter and May and Vodafone were last night (13 February) among the winners of major prizes in front of well over 1,000 guests.

DLA Piper was named Law Firm of the Year, ahead of a shortlist including RPC, Holman Fenwick Willan, Mishcon de Reya, Stewarts Law, PwC Legal and Axiom in the wake of two years of renewed global growth and ambition.

The night was also marked by the return of Legal Business’ GC Power List report in an expanded format, with a reception held alongside the main awards to mark the report’s 2014 launch, attended by 100 corporate counsel from bluechip companies.

The report highlighted 101 rising stars working in-house.

In the main awards, Vodafone was named In-House Team of the Year, edging out a shortlist including BT, ITV and Shell. A new category – Rising Star In-House Counsel of the Year – was won by ITV’s Barry Matthews.

The awards, now in their 17th year, were held at London’s Grosvenor House with the distinguished broadcaster Jeremy Vine hosting the evening. Other flagship awards saw disputes leader Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan named US Law Firm of the Year, while Burness Paull won for best regional player. Leading German independent Noerr was named International Firm of the Year.

In the practice awards, Slaughters was named Corporate Team of the Year for its work on the most high-profile privatisation in a generation for Royal Mail. Disputes Team of the Year was handed to Jones Day and Memery Crystal, who stood out for their work successfully representing separate defendants in a high-profile $1.6bn claim brought by Excalibur.

RPC was named Competition Team of the Year, while Allen & Overy and Clifford Chance respectively secured awards for finance and private equity.

In the individual awards, 2 Bedford Row’s Maura McGowan QC won Lawyer of the Year for her work as Bar Council chair combatting cuts to legal aid, while DWF’s Andrew Leaitherland was named Management Partner of the Year for work in driving his firm’s dramatic growth in recent years.

Other winners included Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer for CSR and Eversheds for Real Estate Team of the Year, while Simmons & Simmons, Mishcon de Reya and Weil, Gotshal & Manges also picked up practice awards.

The awards were held after 12 months of sustained expansion at Legal Business including a total overhaul of its website, sustained editorial investment and the launch of its acclaimed iPad edition, which now has more than 1,000 subscribers.

The Legal Business Awards and GC Power List will return in 2015 in expanded and updated format.


2014 winners

TMT Team of the Year – Wragge & Co

Finance Team of the Year – Allen & Overy

Restructuring Team of the Year – Weil, Gotshal & Manges

Employment, Pensions & Benefits Team of the Year – Hogan Lovells

Real Estate Team of the Year – Eversheds

Insurance Team of the Year – Simmons & Simmons

Energy & Natural Resources Team of the Year – Pinsent Masons

Competition Team of the Year – RPC

Lawyer of the Year – Maura McGowan QC, 2 Bedford Row

International Firm of the Year – Noerr

In-House Team of the Year – Vodafone

Rising Star In-House Counsel of the Year – Barry Matthews, ITV

Private Client Team of the Year – Mishcon de Reya

Dispute Resolution Team of the Year – Jones Day and Memery Crystal

CSR Programme of the Year – Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer

Legal Technology Team of the Year – Taylor Wessing

Corporate Team of the Year – Slaughter and May

Private Equity Team of the Year – Clifford Chance

US Law Firm of the Year – Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan

Management Partner of the Year – Andrew Leaitherland, DWF

National/Regional Firm of the Year – Burness Paull

Law Firm of the Year – DLA Piper

Legal Business

Profile: Rosemary Martin, Vodafone

Continuous money saving has been the order of the day for Vodafone’s general counsel (GC) and company secretary Rosemary Martin, who has been under continued pressure to cut costs and headcount since becoming responsible for around 350 professionals in the telecom giant’s global legal team spread across 24 countries.

Vodafone, in common with other mobile phone operators and the telecoms sector at large, has faced strong headwinds, including tough economic conditions in Southern Europe, an adverse European regulatory environment and increased competition, leading to a dip in its 2012/13 revenue of 4.2%, albeit to well over £44bn.

Legal Business

Vodafone develops Indian LPO as former Linklaters lawyer takes over as UK external affairs director


As Vodafone replaces outgoing UK corporate and external affairs director Justine Campbell with group legal director for corporate and commercial, Helen Lamprell, the telecoms giant has been focusing on developing a new relationship with the legal process outsourcing (LPO) arm of Indian law firm Qui Prior Law Associates (QP).

Vodafone in March signed up with QP, which is run by senior in-house lawyer of 20 years Rajiv Sarin, who has worked in senior positions in companies such as Coca-Cola, Unilever and HCL-Hewlett Packard, to initially take on work including basic contract review.

The move comes as Vodafone’s legal department is under continued pressure to cut costs and headcount as its group revenues for the year to March 2013 were down -4.2% to £44.4bn.

General counsel and company secretary Rosemary Martin (pictured) said: ‘I have just been to visit QP in Delhi and they are genuinely impressive, bright, energetic people led by Indian lawyers qualified not only from top Indian law schools but also from leading UK and US universities.’

QP’s LPO division, which also lists Nokia India, Unilever, Swarvoski, Reebok, SAB Miller, Kelloggs and Saint Gobain as clients, is supported by young and dynamic often English-university trained lawyers who provide support in document review, contract management, IP research, case mapping and litigation support. The relationship is being managed out of Vodafone’s Luxembourg office and the company is in the process of training and integrating QP into its systems and processes.

Other FTSE 100 legal departments to use an Indian LPO include BT, which as revealed by Legal Business in July, is in the process of reviewing its relationship with UnitedLex.

BT also uses flexible providers such as Obelisk, with group general counsel Dan Fitz describing BT’s approach to external legal advice as a layered ‘ecosystem’ to meet the organisation’s peaks and troughs. Fitz said at the time: ‘We’re testing all parts of the new legal landscape. It used to just be who is on the panel but more and more corporates will be looking at the entire ecosystem and for legal support that can flex up and down without spending a lot of money.’

The development of the Indian operation coincides with the departure of Campbell, who is leaving to take up the role of general counsel at British Gas.

Her replacement Lamprell, who joined Vodafone from Linklaters capital markets team in 2003, will report to UK chief executive Jeroen Hoencamp.

In an announcement to staff last week, Vodafone said: ‘Helen has been heavily involved in Vodafone’s major corporate acquisitions and disposals including leading the legal support for the sale of our stake in Verizon Wireless.’

Kerry Phillip will take over Lamprell’s role and report to Martin. Phillip joined Vodafone UK as head of legal in 2010, having previously worked in the legal functions of Azzurri, O2 and BT, gaining broad experience in corporate, consumer, enterprise and company secretarial law.

Legal Business

The legal elite dominates big-ticket mandates including Vodafone’s $130bn Verizon sell off


The autumn deal-doing season kicked off in style in September as Vodafone announced the $130bn disposal of its 45% stake in Verizon Wireless to Verizon Communications and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) sold off its drinks brands Lucozade and Ribena for £1.35bn.

Slaughter and May, led by corporate partner Roland Turnill, took the lead for Vodafone on one of the biggest corporate deals in history, working alongside Simpson Thacher & Bartlett in the US. Hogan Lovells had a secondary role advising Vodafone.

Legal Business

The guessing game is over as Vodafone’s $130bn Verizon sell off sees Slaughters acting opposite Macfarlanes and Wachtell


Intense speculation over Vodafone’s $130bn disposal of its US group, whose principal asset is its 45% interest in Verizon Wireless, to Verizon Communications this evening (2 September) came to an end after the deal announced, with Macfarlanes revealed as acting for Verizon and Slaughter and May for Vodafone. Slaughter and May corporate partner Roland Turnill led for the telecoms giant on one of the largest corporate deals in history, along with Simpson Thacher in the US.

Verizon was advised by Macfarlanes’ managing partner Charles Martin and corporate partner Graham Gibb, alongside Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz partners Daniel Neff and Steven Rosenblum. Hogan Lovells also had a secondary role for Vodafone.

Slaughter and May is one of Vodafone’s go-to corporate panel firms and Turnill has acted on deals including its 2011 $5bn acquisition of Essar’s minority shareholding in Vodafone Essar. The instruction comes after Linklaters, also on its panel of lead advisers, in June advised Vodafone on its €7.7bn takeover of Kabel Deutschland.

This latest transaction was unanimously approved by the boards of both companies and is subject to regulatory approval, as well as the approval of both companies’ shareholders, a Vodafone statement said today. The transaction is expected to close in the first quarter of 2014.

Vodafone’s announcement this evening on the London Stock Exchange came after an earlier statement responding to media speculation, which confirmed that talks were taking place but that there was ‘no certainty a deal would be reached’.

Lowell McAdam, Verizon chairman and CEO, said of the deal: ‘Today’s announcement is a major milestone for Verizon, and we look forward to having full ownership of the industry leader in network performance, profitability and cash flow.’

Vittorio Colao, Vodafone group CEO, added: ‘This transaction allows both Vodafone and Verizon to execute on their long-term strategic objectives. Our two companies have had a long and successful partnership and have grown Verizon Wireless into a market leader with great momentum. We wish Lowell and the Verizon team continuing success over the years ahead.’