- General counsel: James Conyers.
- Team headcount: 120 lawyers.
A ccording to BSkyB’s GC James Conyers, the hallmark of a great in-house team is its ability to ‘successfully identify the key needs of the business it is serving and the most efficient way to meet those needs, ensuring they will continue to be met sustainably in the future’.
The company secretary and five directors of legal report to Conyers. Each director of legal heads up a team or teams, which are focused on a particular part of Sky’s business (eg content acquisition) or a particular legal discipline (eg regulatory and competition law).
Stephen Wilkinson, global head of M&A at Herbert Smith Freehills, says: ‘What distinguishes Sky is that, whereas some companies in media and telecoms have come and gone, Sky has continued to lead change in a fast-moving industry, and the legal team’s skillset and approach has had to keep pace with that change. That change has taken place across the business – in technology, delivery platforms, expanding businesses from analogue to digital, satellite broadcasting to telecoms and broadband, and beyond. On top of all that it has taken on and integrated major acquisitions and won significant regulatory judgments and commercial litigation. They are individually and collectively leaders in their industry. There can only be a few law firm partners who know as much about broadcast media regulation as James Conyers.’
Last year the legal group, spearheaded by deputy GC Andrew Middleton and principal legal adviser Sianne Walsh, instructed longstanding adviser HSF on its high-profile £7.4bn buyout of European sister companies Sky Deutschland and Sky Italia from 21st Century Fox. The deal, which was cleared by EU antitrust authorities in September last year, created a pan-European business with 20 million customers and combined revenues of over £11bn.