France Telecom could spend up to €7 billion in African and Middle Eastern investments over the next five years, according to CEO Stephane Richard.
In an interview with Bloomberg, Richard said the operator hopes to double its revenue from emerging markets, and has a strong interest in increasing its number of operations in Africa.
France Telecom currently earns around €3.3 billion from emerging markets, just 7% of the operator's total.
“If we can buy a portfolio of assets to arrive more rapidly, that’s very good,” Richard told Bloomberg. “If it’s necessary to buy licenses country by country, that works also.”
Factoring in €1 billion worth of organic growth from its existing operations, France Telecom hopes to find €2 billion worth of new revenue opportunities, he said.
The company already has African operations in Cameroon, Senegal and Niger, and hopes to expand further in Western Africa.
Some of the purchase price will be funded through France Telecom's projected cash flow of €8 billion for each of the next two years, he added.
Richard's company is not the only French operator to have African ambitions – Vivendi, operator of France Telecom's main competitor SFR - is targeting Africa through its Maroc Telecom unit.