Bird & Bird and BT Work on 'Open' Joint Venture With BSkyB

24 July 2000

Interactive digital TV to offer viewers extra e-commerce opportunities

Led by BT's in-house legal team, international law firm, Bird & Bird advised BT on their involvement in Open, a major joint venture with BSkyB. Open is the largest e-commerce platform in the UK, with access to 9 million people through televisions in over 3.4 million homes; content providers currently include BT, Manchester United, WH Smith, HSBC and Dixons, with more providers and services in the pipeline.

BT's stake in Open will be 19.9% with the majority holding of 80.1% held by BSkyB. BSkyB will acquire shareholdings of 20% from HSBC and 15% Matsushita for an aggregate of £394 million.

Bird & Bird's team advising on the deal comprised corporate partner Matt Dennis, assisted by Belinda Saddington; partners Richard Ward and Brett Israel advised on tax and banking issues respectively.

Stephen Wilkinson, a partner with Herbert Smith represented BSkyB, together with Kevin Pearce, BSkyB's in-house counsel. Mark Hawes, a partner with Bristows acted for Matsushita and Jonathan Gould, a partner with Allen & Overy advised HSBC, together with Richard Hennity, HSBC's in-house counsel.

For more information, please contact partner Matt Dennis on +44 (0) 20 7415 6000.