Photographer: Balint Porneczi/Bloomberg

Orange Seeks Africa Deals as Wireless Carrier Eyes Expansion

  • French wireless carrier ‘speaking to everyone,’ official says
  • Bharti Airtel said last month it may sell Africa asset stakes

Orange SA is seeking deals in Africa as France’s biggest wireless carrier targets the continent as a source of additional revenue growth, according to a company official.

“We are looking for acquisition opportunities in Africa, it is a priority region for us,” Yannick Decaux, Orange’s commercial director for Africa, said in an interview in Johannesburg on Thursday. “We are speaking to everyone.”

European phone companies are seeking ways to boost sales amid static and saturated markets on their home continent, where competition authorities have ruled to cut roaming fees. Demand for higher-margin wireless data is growing in Africa as internet speeds improve and smartphones become more available and affordable.

Orange has units in sub-Saharan African countries including Botswana, Cameroon and Ivory Coast and agreed to buy a business in the Democratic Republic of Congo from Millicom International Cellular SA a year ago for about $160 million.

Bharti Airtel Ltd., India’s largest mobile-phone operator, is considering mergers or stake sales at some of its Africa operations as it looks to cut debt, Chairman Sunil Bharti Mittal said last month. It has a unit in Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country, where Orange doesn’t have a presence.

“We will speak to Bharti Airtel on a case by case basis,” Decaux said, adding that the Paris-based company has no plans to acquire a business in South Africa.

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