Orange appoints new CEO for Belgian unit; completes Airtel purchase in Sierra Leone

Orange released a flurry of announcements this week involving the appointment of a new CEO at its Belgian unit, the completion of the Airtel acquisition in Sierra Leone and an investment in a smartphone financing venture.

The France-based operator said Michaël Trabbia would take up the position of CEO of Orange Belgium with effect from September. Trabbia first joined the Orange group in 2011 and has held a number of roles since then. He replaces Jean Marc Harion, who is to succeed Yves Gauthier as the next CEO of Orange Egypt, also from September.

Gervais Pellissier, deputy CEO of Orange in charge of European Operations (excluding France), said: "We are delighted to have Michaël join the other European CEOs on our management team. He will bring all of his skills and experience to bear on Orange Belgium's operations. I am convinced that he will pursue the path so successfully laid by Jean-Marc Harion, who has just been appointed CEO of Orange Egypt, and whom I would again like to thank for his contribution to the development of Orange Belgium."

Harion leaves just after Orange Belgium -- the former Mobistar -- relaunched its convergence strategy with the offer of new fixed broadband and TV services alongside its traditional mobile offerings.

Fixed and mobile convergence is a core part of Orange group strategy and is also a major component of its offering in France.

One of the group's other strategic objectives is to expand its operations in Africa and the Middle East (MEA); Airtel in Sierra Leone represents the 21st mobile operator to come under the Orange umbrella in this region. In June, Orange completed the 100 per cent acquisition of Airtel in Burkina Faso through Orange Côte d'Ivoire, another subsidiary.

The company signed an agreement in January to buy the two units from Bharti Airtel as part of its efforts to boost its presence on a continent it sees as vital to its future growth.

Bruno Mettling, deputy CEO of the Orange group and chairman and CEO of Orange MEA, said the Airtel acquisition "will further strengthen Orange's strategic position on the African continent."

Finally, Orange Digital Ventures this week made a strategic investment in PayJoy, a company that offers a digital platform enabling people with limited or no access to credit to pay for a smartphone in regular instalments. Orange's investment comes as part of PayJoy's series-A funding round alongside several venture capital firms including Union Square Ventures (USV), Draper Nexus Ventures, Fenway Summer Ventures, Core Innovation Capital, among others.

Pierre Louette, Orange's CEO delegate in charge of Orange Digital Ventures noted that PayJoy represents a "logical extension" of the group's investments in other "frontier markets" such as Jumia Group (formerly Africa Internet Group), Afrimarket, and Afrostream.

"PayJoy illustrates our belief at Orange that disruptive ways of thinking can often provide surprisingly simple solutions for breaking down previously insurmountable barriers," Louette added.

For more:
- see this Orange release on Orange Belgium
- see this Orange release on Airtel
- see this Orange release on PayJoy

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