Orange to raise €1.3 bn from sale of some fibre in France

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The operator plans to sell part of the fixed fibre assets in its home market to a consortium.

Orange has agreed to sell part of its fixed fibre assets in France to a consortium of three investors for about €1.3 billion.

The move would have been unthinkable until relatively recently: now there is a growing trend for debt-laden European operators to realise value from the assets, most notably their tower infrastructure.

Operators are also under pressure because of the pandemic to accelerate the roll out fibre and 5G, to support digitalisation of all kinds of businesses and to close the digital divide.

Rural assets

Orange said will sell the 50% of Orange Concessions, a vehicle that includes some of its French fibre assets, to La Banque des Territoires, part of France’s state-owned bank Caisse des Dépôts, insurer CNP Assurances and EDF Invest consortium.

The deal values Orange Concessions at €2.675 billion, according to Orange, which said the assets cover about 4.5 million households passed by FTTH in rural France. This will make Orange Concessions the leading fibre network operator in rural France: the networks operated by Orange Concessions on behalf of local public authorities are open to all operators.

The operator said it will provide more details of its plans for its European mobile assets when it reports its full-year results on 18 February.

Orange said the move is in line with its Engage 2025 strategic plan, announed in late 2019, giving the company the flexibility to push its development in fibre, notably in rural areas.

The transaction is expected to be completed this year.

Shared vision

Stéphane Richard, Chair & CEO of Orange (pictured), stated, “I am delighted that Orange, Europe’s leader in fibre roll-out, is now set to establish this partnership in its domestic market with recognized investors who share our vision of digital communication infrastructure development.

“Through this partnership, Orange holds the means to pursue the development of fibre in rural areas, by winning new public initiative networks or by participating in market consolidation.

This is a key milestone in the delivery of our Engage 2025 strategic plan. As to its financial merits, the achieved valuation reveals the value of Orange’s investments in fibre as well as the relevance of such strategic move.”