Orange looks to new pastures in EMEA after collapse of Bouygues talks

Orange signalled its intentions to pursue deals in markets outside of France as the operator started to look towards a future that will now not include Bouygues Telecom.

The France-based operator is not letting the grass grow under its feet: just days after it was revealed that talks over a potential merger with its domestic rival had collapsed -- with many now laying the blame at the feet of Minister for the Economy, Emmanuel Macron -- the company has already announced plans to acquire a €75 million ($85 million) equity interest in Africa Internet Group, which operates the Jumia e-commerce platform among other online consumer web sites.

Orange joins AXA, Goldman Sachs and longstanding investors MTN Group, Millicom and Rocket Internet in this investment, which it said will be accompanied by a series of strategic partnerships between the subsidiaries of the two groups.

The operator will help Jumia and other web sites run by Africa Internet Group to accelerate their growth and seize development opportunities in Africa, it added.

Orange Group CEO Stephane Richard has been widely quoted as saying he plans to focus on potential deals in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

"We'll...continue to seek opportunities to consolidate and enter new markets in Europe, as well as expand in Africa and the Middle East," he said.

Speaking to Bloomberg, Richard also said that although consolidation "would have made things easier" in France, the company's strategy for its domestic market had not changed.

"We have a clear strategy through 2020 and French consolidation was never a prerequisite for it," Bloomberg quoted Richard as saying.

He noted that the investment in Africa Internet Group would allow Orange to play "a leading role" in the fast-growing e-commerce market in Africa and said the deal was in alignment with its Essentiels2020 strategic plan.

"This acquisition is combined with the signature of several important partnership agreements that will create value for all parties. In particular, across the twelve countries where we have a common presence, this investment will enable us to significantly develop our ability to market products and services developed by Orange Middle East & Africa over the Internet," he added.

For more:
- see this Orange release
- see this Bloomberg article
- see this separate Bloomberg article

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