Orange refuses to budge on under-fire Belgium buyout - Mobile World Live

Orange refuses to budge on under-fire Belgium buyout

13 APR 2021

Orange dismissed demands to increase an offer to purchase outstanding shares in its Belgian subsidiary made by minority shareholder Polygon Global Partners, reiterating the bid was an attractive one.

The operator is offering minority Orange Belgium shareholders €22 per share in an attempt to acquire the capital it doesn’t already own. However this sum was publicly slammed by Polygon, which is refusing to sell its 5 per cent stake at that rate.

Orange stated its bid was a “unique opportunity” and it would not move on the price, pointing to an independent report by financial services company Degroof Petercam (DP) stating the offer “did not disregard the interests of minority shareholders”.

The operator’s defence of its terms came after Polygon questioned the conclusions of the DP report, claiming the assessment “appears to downplay” Orange Belgium’s expected growth and made over-aggressive capex assumptions.

Polygon also slammed DP’s conclusion there was no value held in Orange Belguim’s towers, apparently made on account the assets were not for sale and would not be included in Orange’s group tower company.

“The argument that an asset does not have value simply because its potential owner does not intend to sell it astounds Polygon,” the investor added. “We liken the tower portfolio to a prized Picasso. If a neighbour offered to buy your house and its contents, including your Picasso, would you agree to discount the value of the Picasso to zero simply because your neighbour claims they do not have plans to sell it? The notion seems absurd.”

Polygon believes Orange’s offer is “derisory” with its estimated value for the business at more than €40 a share.

In Orange’s latest statement, the company reiterated it believed there was “no hidden value” in the tower assets, partly due to national regulations in Belgium around sharing antenna sites.

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Chris Donkin

Chris joined the Mobile World Live team in November 2016 having previously worked at a number of UK media outlets including Trinity Mirror, The Press Association and UK telecoms publication Mobile News. After spending 10 years in journalism, he moved...

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