Orange cleared to sell Armenian unit to local ISP Ucom

Orange gained regulatory clearance for a deal to sell its Armenian business to local internet service provider Ucom.

Armenia's Public Services Regulatory Commission cleared the sale of 100 per cent of Orange Armenia after noting the deal would benefit the operator's staff and customers, local news agency Arka reported.

Commission chief Gevorg Gevorgyan accepted that Orange Armenia lacks the resources required to justify investing in its network, in particular in offering converged fixed and mobile services in the country, Arka said. Gevorgyan was also satisfied that the terms of Orange Armenia's current mobile licence would continue to be fulfilled after the sale, the news agency added.

Orange announced it was in talks with Ucom in July, stating that the deal would create a "strong Armenian player capable of offering its customers a broad range of fixed and mobile services."

The operator explained that its Armenian unit did not have the scale to carry out the investments required to offer its own converged services in the country. The decision was also prompted by Orange's Essentials2020 strategy, which sees the company focus on markets where it can offer converged fixed and mobile services.

EE, the operator's UK mobile joint venture with Deutsche Telekom, is also being offloaded as part of the Essentials2020 plan. Meanwhile, Orange this week completed the acquisition of 100 per cent of Spanish fixed line operator Jazztel, also as part of the programme.

Orange acquired an operating licence in Armenia in 2009, and had 630,000 customers by the end of 2014. The business employed 500 people at that date.

The operator is increasingly focussed on markets in Africa and the Middle East as drivers of future growth, and announced in July that it was in talks with Bharti Airtel regarding a potential acquisition of its mobile subsidiaries in Burkina Faso, Chad, Congo Brazzaville and Sierra Leone.

For more:
- see this Arka report
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