French Mobile Operator Orange Considers IPO Of Its Africa Business

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Written by Peter Pedroncelli
French mobile operator
French mobile operator Orange is considering an initial public offering of its Africa and Middle East unit in London or Paris. Alioune Ndiaye, CEO of Orange Middle East and Africa. Image: Guillaume Lechat/Orange

French mobile operator Orange has begun preparations for a potential initial public offering of its Africa and Middle East unit.

One in 10 Africans are Orange customers, with more than 120 million people using Orange as a mobile provider in Africa and the Middle East, according to the company.  

The French mobile operator firm has considered an IPO for Orange Middle East and Africa for the last five years but the company has yet to decide whether it should list in Paris or London, Bloomberg reports.

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A French mobile operator with a large African footprint

Paris-based Orange has customers in 19 African countries including Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Egypt, Morocco, Senegal and Mauritius. 

Orange’s revenue from Africa and the Middle East rose 5.1 percent in 2018 to $5.76-billion.

Orange said in 2014 that it was considering separating its African and Middle East assets from the central Orange Group, which is already listed in Paris and New York.

This separation strategy was considered as price competition in the African and Middle East markets weighed on wireless revenue in France, according to Telecompaper.

That IPO narrative has been recycled often since then. An Orange listing could take place as soon as 2020.

A representative for Orange said the creation of a separate Africa and Middle East subsidiary could “create options” for partnerships but did not give specific details, Bloomberg reported.

Orange is among a small group of international mobile operators that expressed an interest in entering the Ethiopian market. Ethiopia plans to open up its telecommunications market to private companies and investors in 2020.