Orange targets African acquisitions while selling off Armenian business

Orange is in talks with Indian mobile group Bharti Airtel to acquire four new businesses in Africa, while revealing talks are ongoing to sell its Armenian business.

The French operator currently owns radio licenses and runs mobile businesses in 14 African territories, including Cameroon, Egypt, Kenya and Tunisia, and confirmed in a statement that it is looking at acquiring businesses in Burkina Faso, Chad, Congo Brazzaville and Sierra Leone, as it looks to expand its influence in the emerging market. Orange has already released a number of services tailored to the African market, including a mobile money solution to help customers conduct mobile payments between mobile phones. It is also responsible for deploying extensive submarine cable connecting Africa to other mainland continents, which Orange claims extend beyond 450,000km of cable.

A brief statement from Orange read: “Orange and Airtel have entered into an exclusive agreement to explore the possible acquisition by Orange of Airtel’s subsidiaries in Burkina Faso, Chad, Congo Brazzaville and Sierra Leone. There is no certainty of any binding agreement as a result of these discussions.”

Meanwhile, the group has also confirmed it has entered exclusive discussions with Armenian internet service provider Ucom to sell 100% its mobile business in the country. While Orange has been placing increasing significance on a converged, multiplay strategy, it said its reasons for flogging off its Armenian arm come down to its lack of ability to offer more than just mobile services to customers.

“The discussions with the internet service provider Ucom concern the sale of Orange Armenia, which would enable the creation of a strong Armenian player capable of offering its customers a broad range of fixed and mobile services,” the telco said in a statement. “Although significant progress has been made in recent years, both in terms of subscriber numbers and profitability, largely thanks to the efforts made by its staff, Orange Armenia does not have the necessary scale to carry out by itself the massive investments required to enable it to offer its customers convergent services.

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