Orange boosts stake in Moroccan operator Méditel to 49%

Orange increased its stake in Moroccan operator Méditel to 49 per cent, continuing its quest to strengthen its presence in Africa and the Middle East.

The France-based operator acquired a further nine per cent of Méditel after signing an agreement with private equity firm Fipar-Holding--part of state investment company CDG--and investment fund FinanceCom for an undisclosed amount.

In its previous guise as France Telecom, Orange originally acquired 40 per cent of the North African operator from the two local shareholders in 2010. It was agreed at the time that France Telecom would increase its shareholding to 49 per cent by 2015.

Orange noted that the transaction has already received the necessary regulatory approval and illustrates its "ambition to reinforce its presence in Africa and Middle East."

Indeed, the Méditel transaction follows the French group's announcement last week that it had entered into an exclusive agreement with India's Bharti Airtel to explore the possible acquisition by Orange of Airtel's mobile subsidiaries in Burkina Faso, Chad, Congo Brazzaville and Sierra Leone.

Orange has repeatedly emphasised that it sees Africa and the Middle East as key to its future growth. The company has around 100 million subscribers in the region, which accounts for around 10 per cent of group revenue.

Earlier in July Orange CFO Ramon Fernandez said the company is targeting annual revenue growth of around 5 per cent in Africa and the Middle East by 2018 and was looking for further opportunities to expand in the region.

The acquisition of a larger stake in Méditel means that the Moroccan operator will be fully consolidated in the financial statements of the Orange group, which will also now be able to propose five of the operator's nine board members.  

Méditel was established in 1999 and currently has more than 13 million mobile subscribers, representing a 31 per cent market share at the end of 2014. It competes with Etisalat-owned Maroc Telecom and Inwi on the mobile market.

For more:
- see this Orange release

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