Orange adds Burkina Faso to MEA footprint

Orange completed the 100 per cent acquisition of Airtel in Burkina Faso through its subsidiary Orange Côte d'Ivoire, further expanding its footprint in the Middle East and Africa.

The company signed an agreement in January to buy the unit from Bharti Airtel as part of its efforts to boost its presence on a continent it sees as vital to its future growth. It also agreed to buy Airtel's operations in Sierra Leone, but no statement has yet been made on that transaction.

Burkina Faso thus becomes the 20th country in MEA to join the Orange group. Airtel is the country's second-largest operator with almost 4.6 million customers.

Bruno Mettling, deputy CEO of the Orange group and chairman and CEO of Orange MEA (Middle East and Africa), said: "We are pleased to announce that the acquisition of the mobile operator Airtel in Burkina Faso has been finalised. This new acquisition will further strengthen the group's positions on the African continent."

Orange has also previously said it was exploring the possibility of buying Airtel's mobile subsidiaries in Chad and Congo but has since confirmed that talks on these two markets have lapsed. Airtel Africa operates in 17 markets across Africa in total.

More acquisitions could still be ahead, however: reports at the end of May said Orange was mulling the acquisition of further operations owned by Millicom International Cellular in Africa and had started informal talks with the company.

Orange has already acquired Millicom's Tigo business in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) for $160 million (€143 million). Citing unnamed sources, Bloomberg said at the time that the company was considering buying Millicom's operations in Senegal, Ghana and Chad.

Orange has continued to emphasise that Africa is a strategic priority for the group. It has already announced plans to acquire a €75 million ($83 million) equity interest in Africa Internet Group, which operates the Jumia e-commerce platform among other online consumer web sites.

In its results for 2015, Orange said the total number of mobile subscribers in Africa and the Middle East increased by 4.1 per cent year-on-year on a comparable basis to 110 million.

For more:
- see the Orange release

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