Vodafone hires easyJet's top lawyer as eminent GC Rosemary Martin announces retirement

Martin to be succeeded by Maaike de Bie following retirement next March

Rosemary Martin Image courtesy of Vodafone

Vodafone Group has announced that its longstanding general counsel, Rosemary Martin, one of the UK’s leading in-house lawyers, is set to retire next year. 

Martin will step down at the end of next March after 12 years as the wireless giant’s general counsel and company secretary and will be succeeded by highly-regarded easyJet GC Maaike de Bie with her deputy, Rebecca Mills, stepping into her shoes at the airline. 

Prior to joining Vodafone, Martin served as general counsel for Reuters for more than a decade and earlier spent 14 years at legacy firm Rowe & Maw, where she began her legal career in 1981 and later made partner. 

Over the course of her career, Martin took a leading role in the development of the GC position in the UK and in numerous ESG initiatives, recently conducting a legal panel refresh at Vodafone that saw firms selected based on a mutual commitment to promote diversity targets and ESG best practice. 

Martin led a team of 450 at Vodafone and oversaw complex litigation and arbitration, including victory in an international arbitration case in 2020 when a tribunal in The Hague threw out a $2bn tax liability imposed on the company by the Indian government. She was also at the helm when Vodafone completed its $21.3bn acquisition of Liberty Global’s cable systems in Eastern Europe and Germany in 2018, the company’s largest acquisition to date. 

“I have been very fortunate to have worked in fine organisations, with great colleagues and advisers, on challenging and interesting assignments around the world. Thank you everyone,” Martin wrote on LinkedIn, adding that she wished de Bie “every success” at Vodafone. 

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Also highly-regarded by the legal community, de Bie spent five years rising through the ranks at Royal Mail to become group general counsel before joining easyJet in 2019. Her time at the company saw her nearly double her team’s headcount and launch an internal training academy to school junior lawyers on soft skills such as networking and leadership as well as traditional legal training.

At easyJet, she led a team of 75 and won plaudits for her work guiding the airline through the significant challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic, including a legal disagreement with the UK government over quarantine regulations, and a cyberattack. 

An easyJet spokesperson said: ‘Group general counsel and company secretary Maaike de Bie is leaving easyJet to join Vodafone early next year and we would like to thank her for her contribution to the airline over the past three and a half years.

‘Rebecca Mills will be promoted to group general counsel, reporting to CEO Johan Lundgren. Having been with easyJet for nearly 12 years Rebecca brings a wealth of experience to the role, most recently as easyJet’s deputy general counsel and legal director for easyJet holidays. Deputy company secretary Ben Matthews will be promoted to company secretary, and both will provide a seamless transition and strong leadership at easyJet.’

Vodafone thanked Martin and Wibergh for their ‘leadership, dedication, and contributions to making Vodafone a better company.’ 

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