Olswang LLP

The Scoop

One of the more desirable law firms to work for, Olswang has enjoyed a listing in Sunday Times' "Best 100 Companies to Work For" for five years. Considered a trendy firm with an unstuffy culture, Olswang is best known for its expertise in the technology, media and real estate sectors. The firm has a substantial litigation practice, a significant presence in the corporate realm and a growing international network. Clients include BBC, Channel 4, Graphite Capital Management, M&C Saatchi, MTV Networks Europe, RDF Media, Tottenham Hotspur FC, the British Greyhound Racing Board and Vodafone.

Working the media angle

Olswang began life in 1981 as a film financing and entertainment practice. Founded by Simon Olswang and current Senior Partner Mark Devereux, the firm focused its attention on the developing communications, media and technology sectors in the booming 1980s. This was an unusual move for City firms at the time. Rapid growth ensued until 2000, by which time the firm had made a significant name for itself and outstripped rival firms.

In 2001, the dot-com crash proved a major setback to the firm's profits, and Olswang reacted by broadening its practice. After bringing a large property team on board in 2003, the firm acquired real estate boutique Julian Holy Solicitors two years later. In 2007, Olswang opened an office in Berlin, its second Continental outpost following the launch of a Brussels office in 1999. Very quickly, profits began to rise once again. By 2008, Olswang's 10-partner team of 1991 had swelled to more than 100.

Olswang's corporate clout owes much to the restructuring efforts undertaken by corporate chief Fabrizio Carpanini in 2007, who arranged the corporate practice into focus groups, each centred on one of the firm's key sectors: technology, leisure, retail, real estate, media and telecommunications.

Eyes on Europe

Olswang made a strong recruitment drive in 2008, taking on 107 new staff and making up 10 new partners, the largest number ever promoted at the firm. Overseas, thanks to the addition of teams from Linklaters and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Olswang's Berlin office doubled to include 28 lawyers. In 2010, the firm entered into a non-exclusive alliance with Silicon Valley tech firm Cooley LLP. That same year, the firm opened an office in Madrid, followed the next year by an office in Paris. Also in 2011, Olswang set up an IP-focused office in Munich to better serve clients by having a presence at the seat of the European Patent Office.

Olswang reported solid figures for the 2009-10 fiscal year, and turnover for the following year inched up as well, with international revenue again making a strong showing. Reflecting the firm's strategy to expand its overseas network, in 2011 the partnership agreed to invest 10 per cent of net profit into international growth.

Recent News

Top Gear's new garage

In a deal announced in August 2011, Olswang advised long-time client BBC Worldwide, a wholly owned subsidiary of the British Broadcasting Corp, on the sale and licensing of its consumer magazine business to Exponent Private Equity. Exponent will take over 11 BBC Worldwide titles, including Radio Times, while other BBC-branded magazines, such as Gardeners' World and Top Gear, will be published under licensing or publishing contract arrangements. Exponent will also acquire Origin Publishing (in which BBC Worldwide holds a minority stake), as well as BBC Magazines' stakes in Dovetail, a subscriptions fulfilment company, and Frontline, a distribution business. In addition, BBC Worldwide agreed to sell its 50 per cent share in Worldwide Media, a joint venture in India, to fellow shareholder and owner of The Times of India, Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd.

In a separate transaction, Olswang also advised BBC Worldwide in relation to the sale by Virgin Media of its 50 per cent stake in UKTV to US company Scripps Networks Interactive for £339 million. BBC Worldwide owns the remaining 50 per cent of UKTV, one of the largest television companies in the UK.

News Corp buys Shine

In April 2011, Olswang advised Shine Group, a global television production company, on its £415 million sale to News Corp. With Elisabeth Murdoch, daughter of News Corp chairman Rupert Murdoch, as Shine's majority shareholder, the sale met with some controversy. Olswang has advised Shine since its incorporation in 2001. Among the production company's best-known TV shows are "MasterChef", "Spooks", "The Biggest Loser" and "Got to Dance".

Can't beat that deal

In 2011, Olswang completed a number of M&A transactions in the e-commerce sector. In January, the firm advised the shareholders of goviral, which distributes branded video content on the internet, on its $96.7 million sale to AOL Europe. That same month, the firm helped LivingSocial, the Amazon-backed social commerce site, acquire a majority stake in Let's Bonus, a Barcelona-based start-up that offers discounts for gourmet restaurants, luxury spas and romantic destinations. The addition of Let's Bonus gives LivingSocial more than 16 million subscribers in 10 countries.

In August 2011, Olswang acted for eConversions Ltd on the sale of the websites VoucherCodes.co.uk and Gutschein-Codes.de to WhaleShark Media Inc, owner of the largest portfolio of online coupon and deal sites in the world. VoucherCodes.co.uk is the UK's top online coupon website; Gutschein-Codes.de provides access to online coupons and deals in Germany.

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Olswang LLP


90 High Holborn
London WC1V 6XX
Phone: +44 (0) 20 7067 3000
www.olswang.com

STATS


  • Employer Type: Private
  • Chief executive: David Stewart
  • Total No. Attorneys 2011: 333

Major Office Locations

  • Brussels, Belgium
  • Madrid, Spain
  • London, United Kingdom
  • Reading, United Kingdom
  • Paris, France
  • Berlin, Germany
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