Orange Seeking Partnerships Rather Than Acquisitions in Africa

(Bloomberg) -- Orange SA is seeking to build partnerships in Africa rather than making major acquisitions or entering new markets as the French phone carrier focuses on its existing businesses in 21 countries on the continent.

Mobile-phone operators in Africa have to increasingly share their investment in infrastructure to reduce costs, Bruno Mettling, Orange’s deputy chief executive officer in charge of operations for Africa and the Middle East, said in an interview Tuesday in Abidjan, the commercial capital of Ivory Coast.

“That’s what we’re doing in sharing our network, our infrastructure with other partners, to optimize the expenses,” he said.

Orange, which invests about 1 billion euros in Africa each year, will focus on markets where it already has a presence rather than expand to new countries, according to Mettling. The company will also concentrate on bedding down recent acquisitions, such as those in Sierra Leone, Burkina Faso and Liberia, he said, adding that while those three businesses represent 8 percent of Orange’s revenue, they account for about a third of its global growth.

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"Of course there are some opportunities of consolidation, but it’s not Orange’s priority,” Mettling said. “The priority is to consolidate the market where we are present and make the integration of the new countries a success."

Orange is starting new services in the countries where it operates, including the distribution of solar kits, he said earlier on Tuesday at a conference.

The company plans to distribute as many as 20,000 solar kits in four African countries in partnership with U.K.-based renewable-energy firm BBOXX. Orange targets selling between 400,000 and 500,000 solar kits in the next five years. It also has 30 million customers using its mobile-money service, 12 million of which are active, Mettling said.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.

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