Orange entered exclusive discussions with BNP Paribas for the financial company to take control of its banking unit’s customers as it looks to exit the sector.

The operator stated it had completed a strategic review commenced several months ago when it initiated a search for a partner for Orange Bank. If talks are successful, its online retail customers will fall under BNP Paribas’ Hello Bank umbrella.

Orange’s proposed partnership with BNP Paribas is part of a wider intention to progressively withdraw Orange Bank from the retail banking market in France and Spain, putting an end to a foray made in 2017.

It amassed around 2 million customers, but CEO Christel Heydemann decided to get rid of the division due to losses amounting to more than €1 billion since launch, Reuters reported.

Orange added there will be no change in services for its customers during the process and it will work to redeploy its banking unit employees across the company.

Commenting on the eventual exit, Heydemann said the evolution of the banking market had led it to a “new phase” and it was prioritising support for employees and customers during the integration process with BNP Paribas.

Kester Mann, director, consumer and connectivity at CCS Insight, added Orange Bank represented a worthy effort to diversify, but continued losses “meant this decision is no surprise”.