France Telecom reveals plans to exit Portugal

Operator group France Telecom has announced that it could sell its shares in Portuguese operator Sonaecom and has entered into a “put and call option” agreement with local conglomerate Sonae, the majority shareholder in the firm.

The agreement allows France Telecom to divest its entire 20 per cent stake in the Portuguese operator, of which Sonae currently holds 53.17 per cent of shares.

The call is exercisable by Sonae over the next 18 months and the put will be exercisable by France Telecom over the following three months.

They are both exercisable at the same price of €98.9m, according to France Telecom, although the price could be increased to €113.5m if Sonaecom makes a material transaction that restructures the Portuguese telecommunications sector in the 24 months following the signature of the agreement.

The move may not be the last divestment we see from France Telecom in the coming months. In March 2012, the operator revealed plans to pull out of the emerging markets it operates in unless it can become a market leader in those countries.

The agreement with Sonae is subject to the confirmation of the Portuguese Securities Commission.

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