Orange is reported to be eyeing a public offering of its African unit, as it looks to free-up funds from the fast-growing business to support its operations in its more mature European markets.
According to Bloomberg, the talks are at an early stage, and it is not clear if such a move would also include the France-based group’s assets in the Middle East. It is also not certain how big a stake in the business would be up for grabs.
Newspaper L’Agefi said that finance head Ramon Fernandez and European head Gervais Pellissier had discussed the move in meetings with investors.
Africa and the Middle East has been the driver of Orange’s growth in recent years – the company’s H1 2014 results showed it has 91.8 million mobile customers in the region, with revenue increasing by 7.4 per cent to €2.1 billion.
In contrast, it saw revenue declines across its core European operations, including France, Spain and Poland.
“We are working on our strategic plan for 2020, and Africa is at the heart of the strategy,” he said.
“From a capitalist point of view you can argue for different ideas, if it works well, you can sell it and take the cash. But it’s not the strategy today,” the executive observed.
Orange has already inked a deal to offload its Ugandan business, and has said that its Kenyan operation is “under study”, as part of its strategy to be a top-two player in the markets where it operates.
But Rennard also noted that the company is looking at opportunities in markets including Mauritania and Togo.