Orange completes acquisition of Cellcom in Liberia

Orange said it completed the 100 per cent acquisition of Liberia-based mobile operator Cellcom through its subsidiary Orange Côte d'Ivoire less than three months after signing the deal.

The France-based operator first announced in January that it had agreed to buy Cellcom Liberia from Cellcom Telecommunications. At the time, it also agreed to buy 100 per cent of Airtel's operations in Burkina Faso and Sierra Leone. In February it then said it would buy Millicom's business in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), where Orange already operates a mobile unit.

Liberia will now become Orange's 20th country in Africa and the Middle East. Orange noted that the country has a high growth potential with a population of 4.3 million people and a relatively low mobile penetration rate at 66 per cent of the population.

Orange has previously said that the acquisitions would enable it to strengthen its position in Africa, which it said is a strategic priority for the group. In its results for the third quarter of 2015, Orange said it had 111.2 million customers in Africa and the Middle East (MEA). Revenue in the region increased by 6.8 per cent year-on-year in the quarter to reach more than €1.3 billion ($1.5 billion).

Once the latest transactions have been completed, Orange will be present in 20 countries on the African continent and 22 in Africa and the Middle East, which it refers to as the AMEA region.

In general, Orange has repeatedly emphasised that it sees the MEA region as key to its future growth. In July last year, Orange CFO Ramon Fernandez said the company was 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.

Following the failure of talks to buy Bouygues Telecom in France, Orange again signalled its intentions to pursue deals in markets outside of France. It has already announced plans to acquire a €75 million equity interest in Africa Internet Group, which operates the Jumia e-commerce platform among other online consumer web sites.

For more:
- see this Orange release

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