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Portrait of Chris Watson

Chris Watson

Partner
Global Head of TMC

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 Global 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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Memberships & Roles

  • 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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Education

  • MA Modern Languages, New College, Oxford
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Get in contact with

Feed

31 May 2021
CMS Net­work Shar­ing 4.5
On the brink of a new gen­er­a­tion
16 February 2021
5G reg­u­la­tion and law in United King­dom
1. What is the state of 5G de­ploy­ment in your coun­try? The United King­dom is re­l­at­ively more ad­vanced than oth­er European coun­tries in so far as 5G de­ploy­ment is con­cerned. All four ma­jor mo­bile net­work...
Comparable
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...
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...
January 2020
In­fraT­ech Fin­ance
Con­nectiv­ity is the new mod­el of what used to be plain old tele­com­mu­nic­a­tions. In the 5G world, hu­mans and ma­chines now do more than just com­mu­nic­ate: they con­stantly and ubi­quit­ously con­nect with...
11/12/2019
Shar­ing is (S)caring: Your face is a weapon
Many will already be fa­mil­i­ar with 'fa­cial re­cog­ni­tion'. The term is reg­u­larly seen in news stor­ies, with com­munit­ies such as San Fran­cisco ban­ning the use of it by their po­lice de­part­ments. If you use...
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
26 February 2019
Top Tech pre­dic­tions 2019
Will you be in Bar­celona for Mo­bile World Con­gress in Feb­ru­ary? Dur­ing the time of the Mo­bile World Con­gress in Bar­celona, along­side lead­ing tech ad­vis­ory and in­vest­ment firm GP Bull­hound, part­ners from...
18 February 2019
High­lights of our ex­per­i­ence in com­mu­nic­a­tions
CMS’s glob­al com­mu­nic­a­tions team is well versed in ad­vising cli­ents on a host of leg­al is­sues. They are fa­mil­i­ar with a broad range of tech­no­lo­gies and work closely with our tech­no­logy team giv­en the...
Jan 2019
Di­git­al - In­fra­struc­ture for our 'Con­nec­ted Fu­ture'
With di­git­al in­nov­a­tion now firmly at the fore­front of our every­day life, in­terest in the sup­port­ing in­fra­struc­ture has come sharply in­to fo­cus. Al­though we have spent much of the re­cent past seek­ing...
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...