Orange to buy Millicom's DRC business for $160M

Two businessmen shaking hands in a hallway

Millicom has agreed to sell its business in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) to Orange for $160 million (€143 million).

The sale of the unit, which operates under the Tigo brand, is subject to regulatory approvals. Millicom said it would use the proceeds to reinvest in its existing Latin American and African markets.

Once approved, the transaction would represent Orange's fourth acquisition on the African continent this year alone. In January, the France-based operator unveiled plans to acquire three mobile operators in West Africa: Cellcom Liberia and Airtel's operations in Burkina Faso and Sierra Leone.

Orange said Tigo DRC was "a perfect fit for Orange" both from a geographical and cultural standpoint, and would complement its existing operations in the market. The group already owns an operator in the Central African country after it acquired 100 per cent of the mobile operator Congo Chine Télécoms in 2011. CCT was renamed Orange RDC and the Orange brand introduced on Dec. 5, 2012.

Last year Orange said it had 4.3 million customers at the end of 2014, compared with 1.8 million at the end of 2013. The potential for further expansion in the market is significant given that the penetration rate was just 58 per cent, according to GSMA data from February 2015. Orange was targeting a 50 per cent increase in the number of its mobile customers in 2015, as well as revenue growth of 45 per cent.

Orange has continued to emphasise that Africa is a strategic priority for the group. In its results for the third quarter of 2015, the operator 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 ($1.45 billion).

Once the four new 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.

Related articles:
Orange overhauls European leadership as Bouygues talks continue
Arcep head keeps sharp eye on Orange/Bouygues Telecom merger talks
Orange snaps up 3 mobile operators in West Africa
Orange, Bouygues Telecom confirm preliminary merger talks
Orange beefs up top management with 2 key appointments