Orange failed in its attempt at a complete buyout of minority shareholders of its Belgian subsidiary, securing fewer than 51 per cent of shares targeted from its final offer.
When announcing the move in December, the operator group said it aimed to increase its stake in Orange Belgium and intended to delist it from the local stock market should it meet the conditions required for it to do so.
To delist shares it could have performed a “squeeze-out bid” to forcibly acquire remaining interests had it raised its stake above 95.3 per cent. However, this level looked impossible when minority investor Polygon publicly stated its opposition to the price being offered and refused to sell its 5.29 per cent.
At the close of its extended offer period on 4 May Orange achieved support from investors owning 50.97 per cent of shares targeted. Once acquired, these will take its total stake, including the proportion it already owned, to 76.97 per cent.
When the initial offer expired in late April, Orange had secured just over 46 per cent of the shares targeted, taking its share to almost 75 per cent. It reopened the offer on the same terms, having already dismissed calls to increase the price.
Despite falling short of the sum needed to delist the business, in a statement deputy CEO for Finance, Performance and Development of Orange Group Ramon Fernandez chose to focus on the positives.
“We have achieved the objective we set for ourselves: offering a fair price to shareholders who wanted to monetise their shares and strengthening our stake in Orange Belgium,” he said.
“With nearly 77 per cent of the capital held by the Group, we now have the means to improve the financial flexibility of Orange Belgium, deploy its long-term value creation strategy more effectively and enable it to better react to major transformations of the Belgian market.”
In a separate statement, a spokesperson added the company was satisfied with the result and noted “the decision to undertake this operation was, in part, due to the unique opportunity afforded to us by last year’s €2.2 billion tax rebate.”Subscribe to our daily newsletter Back