France Telecom looks to Africa for more growth

Having finally concluded a deal with Egypt's Orascom Telecom over their joint ownership in Egyptian mobile operator ECMS, France Telecom's (FT) new CEO Stephane Richard says that the company is "ready to pay a good price" for further growth in Africa.  In addition, Richard said that Africa is one of the main emerging markets the company plans to focus on.

Seemingly not scarred by the extended difficulties and numerous frustrations encountered with concluding the ECMS deal, Richard said that after a final meeting with Orascom Telecom: "We need to be in Africa. We decided to be in Africa. We will be in Africa for the 10 years to come."

Richard said that Africa is the firm's main focus in terms of emerging market growth, because other markets, like Asia and Latin America, already have big players. "We have today a significant position [in Africa], we are the third global player. I think we have a lot of opportunities to grow in Africa," he added.

However, these statements came as reports emerged that FT was considering investing in the Middle East by acquiring a minority holding in an unnamed Iraqi mobile operator. "France Telecom is looking at the matter of a mobile operator in Iraq but there are no plans to take control in the short-term," a France Telecom spokesman said, without providing further detail.

FT had looked some weeks ago at the African assets belonging to Zain, but did not agree with the valuation of the target, Richard said. However, he did not rule out other transactions.

Separately, the CEO added that the FT would decide within a month on a strategy for its content business.

For more on this story:
- read this from Total Telecom 

Related stories:
France Telecom hints at more European acquisitions, Belgium tops list
France Telecom feels the pinch: Both revenues and profits down
France Telecom loses top international exec
FT Orange mulls €7bn African and Middle East venture

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