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Orange to exit Portugal as market consolidation continues


France Telecom is selling its 20 per cent stake in Portuguese operator Sonaecom to the affiliate’s majority parent, Sonae, in a deal that could top EUR100 million.

The move is the latest in a line of moves by the company to dispose of minority assets in Europe, following earlier sales in Austria and Switzerland.

France Telecom and Sonae have entered into a put and call option agreement to transfer the stake. The call is exercisable by Sonae over the next 18 months and the put will be exercisable by France Telecom during the three months following this initial period. They are both exercisable at the same price of EUR98.9 million.

The price tag will rise to EUR 113.5 million if Sonaecom participates in “a material transaction (involving Sonaecom or its material assets) that consolidates or restructures the Portuguese telecoms sector in the 24 months following the signature of the agreement”.

Sonae already holds a 53.17 per cent stake in Sonaecom, which trades under the Optimus brand and is Portugal’s third-largest mobile operator after Portugal Telecom and Vodafone.

“This agreement secures France Telecom’s stated objective of disposing of its minority shareholding in Portugal under terms that allow the group to benefit from the potential consolidation of the Portuguese telecoms market,” Orange said in a statement.

Last month Sonaecom agreed to merge with Zon Multimedia, the country’s leading pay-TV operator.

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