Orange mulls IPO for its Africa and Middle East business

Orange is considering a separation of and initial public offering (IPO) for its operations in Africa and possibly also the Middle East, in what would form part of efforts to also raise funds to strengthen its European business.

"I can confirm that this is something that we are thinking about but we're at a very early stage at the moment. No decision has been taken regarding the exact details of any such project (including geographic scope) and no calendar has been defined," an Orange spokesperson said in a statement emailed to FierceWireless:Europe.

At the same time, the spokesperson emphasised that the group's development in Africa and the Middle East remains a key part of Orange's strategy.

Orange has a presence in 21 markets in Africa and the Middle East, and many of these local operations are some of its fastest-growing businesses. However, the company has already agreed to sell Orange Uganda to Africell, and is understood to be considering an exit from its business in Kenya, where it faces tough competition from Safaricom.

These moves also form part of a general portfolio reshuffle by the group to trim off peripheral or weaker businesses in order to focus on growth areas. For example, the company also sold its assets in the Dominican Republic to Altice at the end of last year.

In its results for the first half of 2014, Orange reported 3.8 million net additions in Africa and the Middle East and said it had the strongest growth there in four years. First-half revenue grew by 7.4 per cent to €2.1 billion ($2.6 billion), out of total group revenue of €19.6 billion. This compared to a 4.6 per cent decline in France, a 5 per cent drop in Spain, a 6.7 per cent fall in Poland and a 10.1 per cent drop in other European countries.

In the second quarter of this year, countries such as Mali (+36 per cent), Guinea (+57 per cent), Ivory Coast (+11 per cent) and Egypt (+2.7 per cent) were responsible for driving overall first-half growth.

For more:
- see this Bloomberg article

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