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Wed, Jan. 27, 11:42 AM
- Orange (ORAN +2.9%) is pitching its deal to take over rival Bouygues Telecom (OTCPK:BOUYY) to key French government officials this week, Bloomberg reports, with a goal of getting to a deal before Orange's Feb. 16 earnings report.
- The deal's likely to value Bouygues' mobile unit at about €10B, though the deal's structure is still up in the air.
- Orange has already approached Iliad (OTCPK:ILIAY) and Numericable-SFR (OTCPK:NUMCF) about selling them parts of Bouygues to enable the deal, sources said -- with each interested in different assets.
- The looks more likely to see examination from France's competition authority rather than the European Commission.
- Previously: Orange chief: Bouygues deal will have to create value, boost investment (Jan. 12 2016)
- Previously: France plans to remain key Orange shareholder, assess Bouygues talks (Jan. 06 2016)
Fri, Jan. 22, 1:36 PM
- MTN Group (OTCPK:MTNOY +8.6%) has denied allegations of tax evasion in Cameroon, an issue that has resulted in €147M in fines between it and French carrier Orange that pounded those stocks yesterday.
- Orange (NYSE:ORAN) is up 4.3% in U.S. trading today.
- Cameroon's anti-graft agency accused telecoms of failing to pay taxes on gaming and gambling revenues.
- Meanwhile, MTN has signed a deal with cloud solutions firm ItsOn to implement its platform in its operator IT system.
- The African carrier will be able to more quickly launch new services with the ability to virtualize and automate customer-oriented systems including billing, charging, rating, policy, activation, marketing and on-device purchases. “We want to make it easier for our customers to access these services and content, act on contextual offers and purchase new goods directly from their device," says MTN's Albert Fernandez.
- MTN will begin deployment in South Africa before expanding into other countries.
Thu, Jan. 21, 9:56 AM
- Orange (ORAN -0.5%) and MTN Group (OTCPK:MTNOY -6.3%) have received combined fines of €147M (about $160M) from Cameroon, for failing to pay taxes on gambling and gaming services.
- The two are part of a wider probe by the country into the sector that could punish other telecom operators (including Camtel and Viettel) with fines that total $283M.
- MTN is continuing to challenge a much larger fine, $3.9B, imposed by Nigeria over the tardy disconnection of millions of unregistered SIM cards.
- Previously: Official: MTN Group could face more fines if it misses Nigeria's deadline (Dec. 23 2015)
Tue, Jan. 12, 9:29 AM
- The CEO of Orange SA (NYSE:ORAN), up 4.5% premarket, says that a merger he's discussing with Bouygues Telecom (OTCPK:BOUYY) would have to "create value for Orange and boost investments in the French telecoms sector."
- "I will not engage Orange in a risky deal," says Stephane Richard, adding that the deal wouldn't have a negative impact on consumers, and that he sees the negotiation wrapping up in weeks instead of months.
- Orange is in talks to buy its rival for about €10B (around $10.9B) in cash and stock. The move would reduce France's mobile carriers from four to three and give the combination close to 50% market share in communications.
- Whatever happens in the talks, Richard says, France will remain Orange's leading shareholder. The deal's needed, he believes, to stimulate infrastructure investment and keep France's telecoms competitive with European rivals.
- An Orange subsidiary, Orange Cote d'Ivoire, has reached a deal to acquire 100% of the Liberian subsidiary of Cellcom (NYSE:CEL). Liberia has a population of 4.3M with a relatively low mobile penetration rate of 66%, and Cellcom's operation is the leader there.
- Previously: France plans to remain key Orange shareholder, assess Bouygues talks (Jan. 06 2016)
- Previously: Report: Talks moving forward on €10B Orange-Bouygues deal (Jan. 04 2016)
Tue, Jan. 5, 9:27 AM
- Partner Communications (NASDAQ:PTNR) says it will terminate its brand license agreement with France's Orange (NYSE:ORAN) based on the framework agreement the two struck last summer.
- Orange is down 1.1% premarket in U.S. trading.
- In June, the companies set a new framework deal that set up a market study and allowed either the right to terminate the brand license agreement within 12 months. If Partner didn't act to terminate the deal under those terms, either company could then terminate it during the next 12.
- That deal allowed for Partner to get €40M from Orange, with another €50M if the BLA were terminated.
- Partner says it will provide hardware and services under the Orange brand until further notice.
- Updated 9:42 a.m.: Partner is up 3.5% in U.S. trading, while Orange is down 0.7%.
Dec. 15, 2015, 3:37 PM
- Orange Business Services (ORAN +1.6%) has a deal with Switzerland's Cotecna to expand the latter's reach into Africa.
- Orange's Business VPN will provide connectivity for 53 Cotecna sites across 29 countries, including its operations in Asia and Europe.
- Cotecna is a specialist in international testing, inspection and certification. In addition to the hybrid network solution it's getting from Orange, Cotecna will also extend its anti-fraud Cotrack solution into Burkina FFaso and Senegal using M2M connectivity.
- The two have been partners on M2M tracking since 2012.
Dec. 7, 2015, 3:10 PM
- Orange (NYSE:ORAN) moved from the flat line to up 1.4% on a Bloomberg report that it's in early talks to acquire the telecom/media assets of Bouygues SA (OTCPK:BOUYY).
- That could be one of a number of directions for Orange. A possible deal would see Bouygues extracting the construction unit and retaining a minority stake, sources said.
- Bouygues had fended off a bid for its phone assets this summer by Patrick Drahi's Numericable-SFR (OTCPK:NUMCF). The phone unit was a cash cow before having to fight a price war with hard-charging Iliad (OTCPK:ILIAY), pressing it for third place in the mobile market.
- Most of Bouygues' media business is tied up in a minority stake in Societe Television Francaise 1, the leading private TV group in France.
- Previously: Bouygues Telecom rejects Altice's €10B buyout bid (Jun. 23 2015)
Dec. 2, 2015, 9:55 AM
- Responding to reports that it's hired advisers to look at expanding beyond France, Orange (ORAN -0.1%) said it had no plans to merge with Telecom Italia (TI -1.7%).
- “Contrary to some press rumors or other speculation, Orange affirms there are no discussions with Telecom Italia and no plan to merge,” said Orange spokesman Jean-Bernard Orsoni.
- Sources had told Bloomberg that a combination with Telecom Italia was one of several possibilities that Orange was considering along with advisers. Any talks were in early stages, though, and might not result in a major move.
- Previously: Bloomberg: Orange exploring expansion, combination with Telecom Italia (Nov. 30 2015)
Oct. 28, 2015, 10:09 AM
- BT Group (NYSE:BT) is up 3.5% in U.S. trading following the UK's provisional clearance of its £12.5B merger with mobile market leader EE.
- The telecom giant had made its case to regulators for the takeover in early May. Opponents, particularly Vodafone (NASDAQ:VOD), have been vocal about the combination of the UK's biggest fixed-line telecom with its biggest mobile operator.
- And despite a harder-line stance by EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager -- whose opposition led to TeliaSonera and Telenor calling off a Danish merger -- the EU's digital economy commissioner, Guenther Oettinger, thinks consolidation will continue to run: "I believe the consolidation process will continue - we have rather too many than too few companies in Europe."
- As for Vestager's approach: "She sets a lot of store by variety of offerings, by competition, that's the one important factor. The other is that we need competitive companies who are big enough in the global competitive context."
- Also up today: EE owners Orange (ORAN +0.5%) and Deutsche Telekom (OTCQX:DTEGY +1%).
- Previously: TeliaSonera, Telenor call off Danish merger as regulators balk (Sep. 11 2015)
Oct. 22, 2015, 9:28 AM
- Orange (NYSE:ORAN) is up 5.8% premarket after a return to revenue growth in Q3 prompted it to raise full-year guidance.
- Revenues grew 0.5% to €10.28B; it had fallen 0.2% in Q2 and fallen 0.9% in Q1. Its restated EBITDA of €3.56B beat an expected €3.39B.
- Overall, mobile customers grew to 201.7M, up 10.8% Y/Y. In France, it added 234K postpaid customers to bring that total to 23.7M (about 84% of subscriber base). Its 4G customers grew 1M to hit 6.6M.
- For Europe, mobile base grew to 50.1M; in Africa/Middle East, it grew to 111.2M from 94.3M.
- Fixed broadband customers grew to 17.9M from 15.8M, driven by France and Spain.
- It raised full-year EBITDA guidance to €12.3B from a previous €11.9B-12.1B. Capital IQ consensus sees EBITDA of €12.23B for the year.
- Full results
Oct. 8, 2015, 8:02 PM
- Boom times for African mobile companies may be coming to an end with growth about to slow down sharply, says industry group GSMA. And that could encourage consolidation.
- Subscriber growth of 13% from the past five years will become 6% in the next five, as Africa faces its own "rural challenge" despite relatively low penetration.
- Low spending power in rural areas means expansion is even more difficult than in the U.S., though not even half the continent's population will have subscribed to a mobile service by 2020, the study says.
- That could drive consolidation so players can achieve economies of scale required to take on that expense. Already dealing: Vodacom (OTC:VODAF) bought Neotel to force competition with Telkom (OTCPK:TLKGY +3.9%); Millicom (OTCPK:MIICF -0.7%) bought Tanzania's Zantel from the UAE's Etisalat. Other key players: Orange (ORAN +0.6%), making a major expansion in the region; MTN Group (OTCPK:MTNOY +1.2%), the continent's biggest wireless operator.
- Previously: Orange shuffles Africa/Middle East leadership (Oct. 01 2015)
Oct. 2, 2015, 10:13 AM
- Vivendi (OTCPK:VIVHY -1.7%) -- already the biggest shareholder in Telecom Italia (TI -3.7%) -- is making moves toward boosting its stake to about 19%, Reuters has reported, with an eye toward increasing its clout there.
- Banks have reportedly arranged derivative deals so that Vivendi can add to holdings. Chairman Vincent Bollore is on record as saying he wants to keep investing in Telecom Italia as part of a southern Europe strategy, and TI CEO Marco Patuano says that's "always fine."
- One source says Bollore wants to be kingmaker in any upcoming European consolidation, which might include TI tie-ups with Orange (NYSE:ORAN) or Deutsche Telekom (OTCQX:DTEGY).
- Vivendi could claim at least two seats on TI's board, but hasn't done so yet; so far it says it's just a long-term investor. But the investments could keep coming.
Oct. 2, 2015, 9:15 AM
- Orange (NYSE:ORAN), down 2.3% premarket, is in the end stages of talks to sell a 70% stake in Orange Kenya, the country's Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich says.
- The deal's coming "very soon," he says, likely before year-end. Orange had paid $390M for the stake in 2007.
- Abandoning Kenya would mean another operator getting out and leaving the country to Safaricom, part owned by Vodafone (NASDAQ:VOD), which has taken advantage of its development of the M-Pesa mobile payment system.
Oct. 1, 2015, 11:13 AM
- Orange (ORAN -2.6%) has named Bruno Mettling its deputy CEO in charge of Africa and the Middle East, with Jean-Marc Vignolles his COO at that operation.
- Mettling steps up for Marc Rennard, who is becoming deputy CEO in charge of customer experience and mobile financial services. Mettling and Rennard will both be part of the 12-member executive committee around company CEO/Chairman Stephane Richard.
- The moves come in conjunction with Orange's "Essentiels2020" five-year strategic roadmap, which includes the importance of Africa and the Middle East as a growth territory.
- Meanwhile, Laurent Paillassot is becoming CEO of Orange Spain.
Sep. 18, 2015, 1:25 PM
- Antitrust regulators in Europe are set to launch a wide probe into Hutchison Whampoa's (OTCPK:HUWHY) £10.3B bid for O2, the UK mobile unit of Telefonica (TEF -4.1%) -- which likely means key concessions are coming, Reuters reports.
- The plan to merge Hutchison's Three with O2 was a long time coming, and now it's facing what looks like a sterner regulatory regime whose stance helped kill a plan to merge the Danish operations of TeliaSonera and Telenor.
- The EU's competition authority has an Oct. 16 deadline for preliminary review but is expected to follow with a full-blown investigation that should last five months.
- Proper concessions are likely to be challenging, however: Three UK shares a 3G network with market leader EE (ORAN, OTCQX:DTEGY), while Telefonica shares some towers with Vodafone (NASDAQ:VOD) -- which has been vocal about ensuring competition as the UK market consolidates.
Aug. 21, 2015, 12:54 PM
- Vodafone (VOD -2.8%) has pulled out of a six-company competition to take over Lebanon's two mobile operators.
- The government's two mobile firms, Touch and Alfa, were being run by Zain and Orascom Telecom Media and Technology, though the two companies' management contracts expired two years ago.
- Vodafone's pulling out leaves five others competing: Zain, Orange (ORAN -0.2%), Maxis, Turkcell (TKC -1.9%) and a unit of Deutsche Telekom (OTCQX:DTEGY), as OTMT didn't submit a bid application on time.
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