Orange sells Dominican Republic unit to Altice for €1.1B

Orange has agreed to sell its unit in the Dominican Republic to Luxembourg-based Altice for a total value of US$1.435 billion (€1.1 billion), bringing to an end a process that has lasted for several months.

Orange had previously confirmed that it was conducting an asset review of its operations in the Dominican Republic and had invited potential buyers to submit bids. Now, 100 per cent of the unit will be sold to Altice, which is a cable and telecoms operator with a presence in six countries: Israel, Belgium, Luxembourg, the French Overseas Territories of Guadeloupe and Martinique, Portugal and Switzerland. It is also the biggest shareholder in France's largest cable operator, Numericable.

Orange said in a statement that the transaction is subject to the approval of the Dominican Republic's competent authorities and will be submitted to the board of directors of the Orange Group for approval during the week commencing Dec. 9.

"Upon completion, this transaction will represent a significant step forward in the optimisation of Orange's assets portfolio as announced in 2011," Orange observed.

Orange Dominicana was established in 2000 and posted revenues of DOP 22.8 billion (€451 million) in 2012 and had 3.4 million subscribers at the end of September 2013. The company employs around 1,400 people. The company will continue to use the Orange brand within a defined framework, Altice said in a statement.

For Altice, the acquisition of the Orange unit forms part of its strategy to combine fixed and mobile assets in order to offer "quadruple-play" services to its users. The company recently acquired cable operator Tricom in the Dominican Republic, and said Orange Dominicana and Tricom have a combined total subscriber base of about 4 million.

In the Caribbean as a whole, Altice already offers pay-TV, high-speed broadband and mobile services in Martinique, Guadeloupe and French Guyana.

"We are very pleased with the acquisition of Orange Dominicana which is demonstrating strong growth and provides for--through both a state-of-the art mobile communications network and a high-quality management team--a perfect fit with our strategic vision to offer high-quality quadruple-play services to our subscribers," said Dexter Goei, CEO of Altice.

For its part Orange, like many European operators, has been seeking ways to reduce group debt by trimming off peripheral assets and focusing on investment in stronger markets. According to separate reports in Canada's Globe and Mail, the France-based operator is also examining a potential entry into Canada's mobile market. The report said the Orange Horizons unit is considering options such as setting up an MVNO in the country.

The Orange Horizons subsidiary was launched in January to find "new business opportunities" in markets where it is not present.

For more:
- see this Bloomberg article
- see this Altice release
- see this Globe and Mail article

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