People / Chris Watson
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Chris Watson

Partner
Head of the CMS TMC Group

CMS Cameron McKenna Nabarro Olswang LLP
Cannon Place
78 Cannon Street
London
EC4N 6AF
United Kingdom
Languages English, French, Italian, Spanish, German

Chris Watson is Partner and Head of TMC at CMS. He focuses on international commercial matters in the technology, media and communications sectors, particularly in areas where competition and regulation overlap, and on EU law arising in cross-border and complex telecommunications transactions. He also has extensive experience in other regulated network sectors, such as postal and other utilities, as well as in general commercial, corporate, and financial matters. Chris works with an extensive range of clients in the global telecommunications industry. He has been recognised in The International Who's Who of Telecoms & Media Lawyers 2014 as a 'Most Highly Regarded Individual' in which he is described as "exceptionally bright", and boasts an "amazingly international practice". Chris has a strong interest in the Middle East, having lived in Iran for a number of years, and has developed a global practice with approximately half of his clients based outside the UK. Chris is a regular contributor to magazines, a sought after speaker and is frequently quoted in the media. He is a member of the governing Council of the International Bar Association (IBA), and a past chairman of the Communications Law Committee. Chris’s memberships also include Supreme Court of England and Wales, Paris Bar and board membership of the Space Law Committee. He is dually qualified as a solicitor in England and as an avocat in France. Relevant experience Cinven LLP on its bid to acquire a controlling stake in Telekom Slovenije (2015). Macquarie Communications Infrastructure Group (MCG) on the acquisition of NTL’s broadcast business for a purchase price of £1.27 billion. T-Mobile/One2One in relation to the inquiry by Oftel and the Competition Commission into the charges made by UK mobile operators for call termination. National Grid on the replacement of its electricity operational telecommunications (OpTel) assets. The World Bank in relation to reform of the Lebanese telecommunications law, including drafting the new Law and Decrees in English and in French. KPNQwest on the rollout of its pan-European network (including property, IT procurement and issues relating to co-ordination with other operators) and drafting sales contracts for sale of fibre, capacity and services on the network. The Communications and Information Technology Commission, the Saudi Arabian telecommunications regulator, on the successful auction of a second GSM licence and, separately, of voice and data licences for a global consideration of $3.5 billion. The Office of the Telecommunications Authority in Hong Kong on the 3G licensing process. The Jordan Telecommunications Regulatory Commission on the implementation of a new licensing/regulatory system. FMC (USA) on the purchase of the alginates business of International Specialty Products (USA). The OFT decided not to refer the matter to the Competition Commission for further investigation. This was a first of its kind in this scenario and is likely to be a leading case reference by the OFT in years to come.

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Education

MA Modern Languages, New College, Oxford

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Memberships

Council Member, International Bar Association

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Lectures list

TMT M&A Panel at the TMT Finance & Investment Central East Europe 2014 Conference Warsaw – on the panel, 30 September 2014 Oxford Student Dinner – mentor, 25 November 2014 Cyprus OCECPR Stakeholder meeting – speaker, 27 March 2015 ABA Spring Meeting San Francisco – speaker, 17 April 2015 IBA Vienna conference – speaker, 7 October 2015

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Chris Watson is Partner and Head of TMC at CMS. He focuses on international commercial matters in the technology, media and communications sectors, particularly in areas where competition and regulation overlap, and on EU law arising in cross-border and complex telecommunications transactions. He also has extensive experience in other regulated network sectors, such as postal and other utilities, as well as in general commercial, corporate, and financial matters.

 

Chris works with an extensive range of clients in the global telecommunications industry. He has been recognised in The International Who's Who of Telecoms & Media Lawyers 2014 as a 'Most Highly Regarded Individual' in which he is described as "exceptionally bright", and boasts an "amazingly international practice".

 

Chris has a strong interest in the Middle East, having lived in Iran for a number of years, and has developed a global practice with approximately half of his clients based outside the UK.

 

Chris is a regular contributor to magazines, a sought after speaker and is frequently quoted in the media. He is a member of the governing Council of the International Bar Association (IBA), and a past chairman of the Communications Law Committee. Chris’s memberships also include Supreme Court of England and Wales, Paris Bar and board membership of the Space Law Committee.

 

He is dually qualified as a solicitor in England and as an avocat in France.

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Relevant experience

  • Cinven LLP on its bid to acquire a controlling stake in Telekom Slovenije (2015).
  • Macquarie Communications Infrastructure Group (MCG) on the acquisition of NTL’s broadcast business for a purchase price of £1.27 billion.
  • T-Mobile/One2One in relation to the inquiry by Oftel and the Competition Commission into the charges made by UK mobile operators for call termination.
  • National Grid on the replacement of its electricity operational telecommunications (OpTel) assets.
  • The World Bank in relation to reform of the Lebanese telecommunications law, including drafting the new Law and Decrees in English and in French.
  • KPNQwest on the rollout of its pan-European network (including property, IT procurement and issues relating to co-ordination with other operators) and drafting sales contracts for sale of fibre, capacity and services on the network.
  • The Communications and Information Technology Commission, the Saudi Arabian telecommunications regulator, on the successful auction of a second GSM licence and, separately, of voice and data licences for a global consideration of $3.5 billion.
  • The Office of the Telecommunications Authority in Hong Kong on the 3G licensing process.
  • The Jordan Telecommunications Regulatory Commission on the implementation of a new licensing/regulatory system.
  • FMC (USA) on the purchase of the alginates business of International Specialty Products (USA). The OFT decided not to refer the matter to the Competition Commission for further investigation. This was a first of its kind in this scenario and is likely to be a leading case reference by the OFT in years to come.
more less

Education

MA Modern Languages, New College, Oxford

more less

Memberships

Council Member, International Bar Association

more less

Lectures list

TMT M&A Panel at the TMT Finance & Investment Central East Europe 2014 Conference, Warsaw – on the panel, 30 September 2014

Oxford Student Dinner – Mentor, 25 November 2014

Cyprus OCECPR Stakeholder meeting – speaker, 27 March 2015

ABA Spring Meeting San Francisco – speaker, 17April 2015

IBA Vienna conference – speaker, 7 October 2015

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January 2020
In­fraT­ech Fin­ance
Reg­u­lat­or Round Table
28 April 2020
Green light for UK tower con­sol­id­a­tion
On 22 April 2020, the UK Com­pet­i­tion and Mar­kets Au­thor­ity (CMA) cleared Cell­nex’s ac­quis­i­tion of Ar­qiva’s UK tele­coms in­fra­struc­ture busi­ness.  Cell­nex, which cur­rently has a small share of the...
8/01/2020
Shar­ing is (S)caring: The con­nec­ted sta­di­um of the fu­ture
Pod­cast
15 April 2020
Com­mu­nic­a­tions as an es­sen­tial ser­vice dur­ing coronavir­us (COV­ID-19) con­fine­ment
Gen­er­ally, we have not (yet) seen le­gis­lat­ive or reg­u­lat­ory meas­ures taken for tele­coms in re­spect of COV­ID-19. Of­com and the UK Gov­ern­ment are co­oper­at­ing closely with tele­com pro­viders to man­age the...
16/12/2019
CMS is re­leas­ing its ‘Shar­ing is (S)caring’ Pod­cast Series
19 August 2019
Growth and in­vest­ment op­por­tun­it­ies in the tele­coms sec­tor in Mex­ico
Tele­coms Sec­tor Over­view Every year since 2010, the Mex­ic­an tele­coms sec­tor has out­paced GDP growth. Ac­cord­ing to the Fed­er­al Tele­com­mu­nic­a­tions In­sti­tute (IFT), Mex­ico’s broad­cast­ing and tele­coms reg­u­lat­or,...
18 June 2019
An­nu­al Re­view 2018 – 2019
Cross­ing bor­ders is both the theme of this year’s CMS An­nu­al Re­view and a guid­ing idea that we had when we es­tab­lished CMS 20 years ago. At that time, we de­cided to cre­ate a high-qual­ity, ex­pert and mul­tijur­is­dic­tion­al law firm. This Re­view shows what we’ve achieved over the last year in pur­suit of this goal.Since 1999, work­ing across bor­ders has be­come a daily task for all our law­yers. We are one of the most in­ter­na­tion­al law firms, with more than 70 of­fices in over 40 coun­tries. Our 4,800 leg­al ex­perts world­wide work as one team across jur­is­dic­tions, prac­tice areas and sec­tors to en­sure that you get clear, ac­tion­able and busi­ness-fo­cused ad­vice. You can read about our mul­tijur­is­dic­tion­al sup­port for cli­ents in the stor­ies through­out this An­nu­al Re­view. For ex­ample: an in­ter­na­tion­al CMS team ad­vised Ad­vance / Ne­w­house Part­ner­ship on its pur­chase of Stage En­ter­tain­ment, one of the world’s largest theatre pro­du­cers and own­ers. Our law­yers spe­cial­ising in cor­por­ate, me­dia, real es­tate, tax, em­ploy­ment, IP, com­pet­i­tion and bank­ing all worked on the trans­ac­tion.Glob­al­isa­tion con­tin­ues to im­pact the busi­ness en­vir­on­ment pro­foundly, as do the key is­sues on the glob­al agenda such as the US trade talks with China, Brexit and the con­sequences of cli­mate change. With our glob­al firm struc­ture and mind­set, we help you an­ti­cip­ate the prob­lems you face in your daily op­er­a­tions. On page 28, you can read what some of our part­ners around the world have told us about the chal­lenges their cli­ents are cur­rently fa­cing.An­oth­er ma­jor factor shap­ing our daily work is the im­pact of tech­no­logy on all busi­nesses. This year, our an­nu­al event in Da­v­os on the oc­ca­sion of the World Eco­nom­ic For­um (see page 18) fo­cused on how in­creased di­git­al­isa­tion is af­fect­ing con­ven­tion­al busi­ness mod­els.Today, in­tro­du­cing more ad­vanced tech­no­lo­gic­al tools in­to leg­al prac­tice is a must in or­der to meet cli­ents’ qual­ity and ef­fi­ciency ex­pect­a­tions. For CMS, it is about more than just us­ing ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence soft­ware or di­git­al tools. To us, in­nov­a­tion means de­vel­op­ing tech­no­logy to of­fer our cli­ents new high-qual­ity ser­vices and to provide new ways of de­liv­er­ing all our leg­al of­fer­ings. Our scale and pres­ence across many jur­is­dic­tions, coupled with our deep un­der­stand­ing of cli­ent needs in their loc­a­tions, means that we are very well qual­i­fied to de­vise such solu­tions. On page 16, some of our key in­nov­at­ors de­scribe the ways in which our tech­no­logy is be­ne­fit­ting cli­ents.I hope you find some in­ter­est­ing and thought-pro­vok­ing stor­ies in this year’s An­nu­al Re­view and wish you an en­joy­able read. My col­leagues in the CMS ex­ec­ut­ive team and I are al­ways happy to hear from you if you have any com­ments or ques­tions.Cor­neli­us Brandi, Ex­ec­ut­ive Chair­man
22 November 2018
New re­port | Con­nec­ted Fu­ture: in­vest­ment op­por­tun­it­ies in the rad­ic­ally...
Tech­no­logy-driv­en trans­form­a­tions are not only dis­rupt­ing our every­day lives, but are also rad­ic­ally trans­form­ing the in­fra­struc­ture sec­tor. On the one hand, in­nov­a­tion is driv­ing an up­grade of ex­ist­ing...
2 April 2019
Fin­an­cing In­fraT­ech
In this re­port, we high­light the themes that emerged from those dis­cus­sions, in­clud­ing how the par­ti­cipants feel that reg­u­lat­ors and in­vestors are re­spond­ing to those chal­lenges and op­por­tun­it­ies, and their pre­dic­tions for the fu­ture.
03 October 2018
Aus­trali­an re­forms could re­quire UK com­pan­ies to crack en­cryp­ted com­mu­nic­a­tions
Po­ten­tial le­gis­lat­ive re­forms in Aus­tralia could see tele­com­mu­nic­a­tions and oth­er sim­il­ar com­pan­ies forced to help Aus­trali­an au­thor­it­ies ob­tain ac­cess to en­cryp­ted com­mu­nic­a­tions. The pro­spect­ive re­forms...
18 February 2019
High­lights of our ex­per­i­ence in com­mu­nic­a­tions
01 March 2018
The Fu­ture of Food
In­nov­a­tion in food is not only con­stant but it is defin­it­ive and once you move to the next stage there is no go­ing back. At CMS’s an­nu­al tech­no­logy con­fer­ence, this year themed In­nov­ate to Sur­vive,...