Orange Considers Uganda, Kenya Stake Sales in Africa Review

Orange SA said it is considering cutting its holdings in Kenya and Uganda, potentially scaling back investments by the largest French phone carrier in Africa.

Its options for Uganda and Kenya include finding new financial or operational partners to help invest in phone networks and support the development of the mobile carriers, Tom Wright, a spokesman for the Paris-based company, said in an e-mailed statement. Orange owns 95 percent of Orange Uganda and and 70 percent of Telkom Kenya, he said.

Under Chief Executive Officer Stephane Richard, Orange has sold assets in countries including Switzerland and the Dominican Republic as competition hurts sales in its home market. Richard has said he is looking at opportunities to reinforce Orange’s presence in other markets, such as Spain and Romania.

Orange is committed to Africa and the Middle East and is conducting a review in Uganda and Kenya as part of an evaluation of its footprint, Wright said.

Orange rose 4.3 percent to close at 10.68 euros in Paris. The stock is up 19 percent this year, giving the carrier a market value of 28.3 billion euros ($39.3 billion).

France’s former phone monopoly, which makes about half of its sales at home, had 618,000 mobile customers in Uganda and 948,000 in Kenya as of the end of last year. Full-year sales in Kenya were 83 million euros. Uganda was counted as part of the 586 million euros of sales Orange had in countries outside of its main markets. Total revenue fell 5.8 percent to 41 billion euros, as Orange copes with price wars in France and falling phone bills elsewhere in Europe.

Orange hired Lazard Ltd. to advise on the asset review, TMT Finance reported last week. A Lazard representative declined to comment.

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