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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 one of the world’s leading communications law experts. He is Head of the CMS Technology, Media and Communications group and leads an international team of over 300 lawyers.
 
He focuses on international commercial matters in TMC, particularly in areas where competition and regulation overlap, and on EU law arising in cross-border and complex transactions.
 
Chris is included as one of a handful of “Global Elite Thought Leaders” in Who’s Who Legal: Data 2020. His recognition as a Who’s Who Legal “Global Leader” in the categories of Data - Information Technology, and Data - Telecoms & Media also goes back for several years.
Chris is described by clients and contacts as "exceptionally bright", boasting an "amazingly international practice". Sources told Chambers and Partners: "He is very knowledgeable on telecoms regulation and competition law, and one of the nicest people you could ever meet."
 
He also has extensive experience in other regulated network sectors such as postal, electricity and other utilities and as well as broad experience on commercial, corporate, and financial matters.  
 
Chris is a sought after speaker and is frequently quoted in the media. He is a past member of the governing Council of the International Bar Association (IBA), chair of its Diversity Council and a past chairman of the Communications Law Committee. Chris's memberships also include Supreme Court of England and Wales, and the Paris Bar. 

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Recognised as a "Global Elite Thought Leader".

Who’s Who Legal, 2020

Relevant experience

  • The World Bank on drafting, analysing and explaining the value of digital identity legislation and programmes for several African countries.
  • HP Inc. on the $1bn+ purchase of Samsung’s global printer business.
  • Liberty Global on the sale of its direct-to-home satellite TV operations in the Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia to M7 Group.
  • CityFibre, the UK’s largest alternative provider of wholesale fibre network infrastructure, on a partnership with Vodafone to deliver ultra-fast Gigabit-capable full fibre broadband to up to 5 million homes and businesses across the UK by 2025.
  • Apollo Global Management on the European aspects of its acquisition of Phoenix Services International, LLC, a leading global provider of industrial technology services to steel mills.
  • Bahraini Telecommunications Regulatory Authority on regulatory issues regarding their National Broadband Network.
  • Cinven LLP on its bid to acquire a controlling stake in Telekom Slovenije.
  • The World Bank in relation to reform of the Lebanese telecommunications law, including drafting the new Law and Decrees in English and in French.
  • Macquarie Communications Infrastructure Group on the acquisition of NTL’s broadcast business for a purchase price of GBP 1.27bn.
  • 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 assets.
  • 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 USD 3.5bn.
  • 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.
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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

  • Speaker, Total Telecom Congress, London – 2019
  • Panelist, FT-ETNO Summit, A future model for broadband networks, Brussels - 2018
  • Speaker, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), Digital Identity in a New Era of Data Protection, Geneva – 2018
  • Panelist, ECTA Regulatory Summit, Brussels – 2016
  • Panelist, Interlaw Diversity Forum, International Women's Day: Pledge for Parity, London - 2016
  • Speaker, Cyprus Office of Electronic Communications & Postal Regulations Stakeholder meeting – 2015
  • Speaker, American Bar Association Spring Meeting, San Francisco – 2015
  • Speaker, International Bar Association conference, Vienna – 2015
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28 Apr 20
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...
January 2020
In­fraT­ech Fin­ance
Reg­u­lat­or Round Table
15 Apr 20
Com­mu­nic­a­tions as an es­sen­tial ser­vice dur­ing coronavir­us (COV­ID-19)...
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...
18 Jun 19
An­nu­al Re­view 2018 – 2019
22 Nov 18
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
GBP 30bn re­quired,but who will write the cheques?
03 Oct 18
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...
Jan 2019
Di­git­al - In­fra­struc­ture for our 'Con­nec­ted Fu­ture'
Glob­al in­fra­struc­ture re­port
01 Mar 18
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,...
Nov 2018
Con­nec­ted Fu­ture
Glob­al in­fra­struc­ture re­port
21 Feb 18
The Com­mis­sion pub­lishes draft re­vised SMP Guidelines
On 14 Feb­ru­ary 2018, fol­low­ing pub­lic con­sulta­tions and the com­mis­sion­ing of an eco­nom­ic study in 2017, the European Com­mis­sion pub­lished a draft of its up­dated Sig­ni­fic­ant Mar­ket Power Guidelines. These...