Orange to sell Uganda unit to Africell

Orange confirmed it is exiting Uganda after reaching an agreement to sell its local business to Africell Holding for an undisclosed amount.

The French operator said selling its majority 95 per cent stake in Orange Uganda will enable the African operator to continue its development, and is a further step in the Orange Group asset portfolio optimisation strategy. Orange added that the Middle East and Africa "remain a strategic priority" in this strategy.

The deal adds to Africell Holding's existing African operations in Gambia, Sierra Leone, and Democratic Republic of Congo.

Orange has been reviewing its operations in Uganda for several months, and is also considering an exit from its business in Kenya where it faces tough competition from Safaricom. Orange Uganda was formed in 2008, and became the country's number three player with a subscriber base of 620,000 at end-2013.

An Orange executive previously told FierceWireless:Europe the company would review its operations in global markets where it was not a top two player, and would examine options for increasing its presence in those countries, or consider an exit if no growth opportunities existed.

The France-based company is not the only European operator to review its African operations. In late March, Vodafone subsidiary Safaricom gained regulatory clearance to acquire Essar Telecom Kenya. The approval came a matter of days after Safaricom threatened to walk away from the deal due to lack of clarity from the regulator, the Communications Authority of Kenya, and would see Essar Telecom split between Safaricom and rival Airtel Kenya.

Orange, meanwhile, is also reportedly seeking a deal with Bouygues Group regarding a merger with the latter's French mobile business, Bouygues Telecom. The potential deal comes weeks after Bouygues missed out on acquiring local rival SFR, which is due to be merged with Numericable following a deal between the two companies' parents: Vivendi and Altice.

For more:
- see this Orange announcement
- see Africell Holdings' site

Related Articles:
Orange reportedly in talks with Bouygues as Numericable bids for Virgin Mobile France
Safaricom, Airtel get conditional approval to buy Essar Kenya assets
For European telecoms operators, 4 is a crowd
Orange holds margins steady as price war diminishes

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